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Officials say UIHC escapee was a flight risk

BY NINA EARNEST and MAX FREUND | DECEMBER 17, 2010 7:30 AM

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Anthony Koehlhoeffer apparently likes to run away.

Once in '07, once in '08, and once reportedly Tuesday.

In fact, when Scotland County, Mo., Chief Deputy Bryan Whitney — one of two officers who tackled Koehlhoeffer in a field, ending his 2008 escape — pulls up Koehlhoeffer's file, two red-lettered words flash on his screen: Escape Risk.

According to officials, Jefferson County inmate Koehlhoeffer fled the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics where he was receiving treatment on Tuesday. He then allegedly assaulted a female UI student, stole her car and then stole three others during a 19-hour manhunt across eastern Iowa that ended in Bettendorf.

In 2008, Koehlhoeffer was being booked into the Scotland County Jail. When a deputy removed his handcuffs and leg restraints, he turned and fled through an open doorway.

"For what it's worth, we would not have him out without being restrained," Whitney said. "Whether that is handcuffed or his arms fastened to something."

But a document, provided by Jefferson County officials, shows UIHC staff may have accepted custody of Koehlhoeffer.

"University of Iowa Hospital" is handwritten into the blank following, "Receipt of the above person into the custody of."

It's unclear who the signatures belong to, though one has the letters "M.D." after it and one is from Jefferson County.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he couldn't comment on the document and repeated that UIHC is not a custodial facility.

Still, many Iowa sheriff's offices said they wouldn't leave inmates unattended.

Robert Rotter, the sheriff of neighboring Iowa County, said the custody of prisoners was a "black and white" issue.

"I just know that I'm responsible for that person once we put them under arrest," he said. "I couldn't possibly leave them at a hospital or anywhere else without a guard."

And Roger Krohn, a sergeant in Manona County, called it "ludicrous" to leave an inmate unattended at a hospital.

Three other Iowa sheriff's offices said leaving a deputy with an inmate varies on a case-by-case basis, but a violent or escape-prone inmate is generally provided a deputy.

Other Iowa hospitals agreed it is up to the law-enforcement agency to determine if deputies need to remain with inmates.

Amy Varcoe, a spokeswoman for Iowa Health Des Moines, said though sheriff's offices determine whether a deputy or officer is necessary, one will usually remain with an inmate.

Mercy Hospital in Des Moines requires correctional-facility personnel to remain with prisoners, said spokesman Gregg Lagan.

Details on how Koehlhoeffer escaped the UIHC remain fuzzy, because Moore cited the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as a reason to not disclose information — a contention numerous experts said was invalid.

But regardless of responsibility, Koehlhoeffer — who Jefferson County prosecutor Timothy Dille called "a very angry young man" — escaped.

"He makes inappropriate comments at inappropriate times," said Dille, who is prosecuting an 11-count case against him. "[He's] very disrespectful to anyone, including judges, his mother, anyone around him."

And while Koehlhoeffer has since been apprehended by Davenport police, his supposed MySpace page lists his favorite movie: Catch Me If You Can.


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