Upstate man who escaped mental hospital returned to SC - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate man who escaped mental hospital returned to SC

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Jason Carter's booking photo in TN. (Source: Williamson Co. Sheriff's Office and WSMV-TV) Jason Carter's booking photo in TN. (Source: Williamson Co. Sheriff's Office and WSMV-TV)
COLUMBIA, SC (AP/FOX Carolina) -

An Oconee County man has been returned to South Carolina after his arrest in Tennessee.

State mental health officials said Jason Carter, 39, was brought back to Columbia on Feb. 19 following his extradition.

Carter was arraigned at the Richland County jail on a larceny charge after authorities said he stole a Department of Mental Health van. Following his arraignment, he was released back into the custody of DMH where he remains involuntarily committed.

A DMH spokesperson said he is now housed in the agency's secure forensic hospital.

Carter was found incompetent to stand trial in the March 2006 death of his mother and stepfather. According to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a home in Seneca where they found the bodies of Kevin and Debra Ann Perkins inside a locked room in the basement.

Since then, Carter was held at a state mental healthy facility where Carter was part of a paid work program for patients and did various jobs, including delivering linens and mail, according to Mark Binkley with DMH.

Binkley said the program requires all working patients to be supervised, and Carter was not. The program has been suspended and is under investigation since Carter's escape.

DMH authorities said Carter stole the state van then bought a car and drove to Tennessee where he was spotted and arrested in Williamson County at a motel off of Interstate 40.

Investigation into mental patient escape continues

DMH and the State Law Enforcement Division are investigating the procedures in place at the time of Carter's escape.

The mental health agency's internal review identified and is addressing several systems issues they said allowed Carter to leave the grounds of the department.

Because of that, one employee was disciplined though they are still employed. Some of the policies that have been investigated and potentially changed in the wake of the elopement is the shift of responsibility for notifying law enforcement of a patient's absence; limiting job sites for patients to areas within the confines of the hospital; requiring a second level of approval for participation in the work program and additional training for staff who supervise patients in the work program.

The patient work program is still suspended pending approval of the new policy.

Copyright 2014 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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