DINWIDDIE — Authorities have found the man who escaped from Central State Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
Richard Wilson Garrett returned to the hospital on Thursday and hospital staff notified the police around 5pm. He was charged him with felony escape from the facility and was taken into custody at Merherrin River Regional Jail in Alberta. The officers currently do not know why he left or where he went. He will be brought before the court on Monday.
"The courts and the attorney nearby will deal with his mental health issues and try to get him back to where he needs to be, getting the help he needs. But because of the circumstances he left under, it was a violation of law and so therefore we charged him," said Dinwiddie's chief deputy Major William Knott.
Authorities are looking for a man they say escaped from Central State Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Dinwiddie Sheriff's Office, Richard Wilson Garrett ran away from hospital staff taking him between buildings around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday. Garrett has a history of assault, the office said.
"He didn't assault anyone to accomplish what he accomplished. Instead of getting on the van, he took off running. The hospital employees tried to follow him and call him back and he just kept running and disappeared into the woods," said Dinwiddie's chief deputy Major William Knott.
He is a white male, about 5-feet-11 and weighing 165 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and black stocking cap.
The sheriff's office said it is using tracking dogs to find him. The Virginia State Police also is assisting in the search.
"I have an obligation to let the community know when something like this happens to get the word and to make people aware in case they see him or he makes contact with anybody so that they can give us a call and we can get him back to the hospital where he needs to be," said Knott.
"We're working on following up on any tips. At this point, we don't know where he is."
On Facebook, some people reported seeing a man matching Garrett's description hitchhiking on U.S. Route 460. Several of them wrote that they thought it was odd because they rarely see anyone walking along that highway.
"We came back through around 6:30-7 and didn't see anyone, so [he] must have got a ride," one posted.
Anyone who may have seen Garrett is asked to contact the Dinwiddie Sheriff's Office at Anyone who has information on the whereabouts of Richard Garrett should contact Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office at (804) 469-4550 or their local law-enforcement department.
Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is daily news coach for USA TODAY's Southeast Region-Unified Central, which includes Virginia, West Virginia and central North Carolina. He is based in Petersburg, Virginia. Reach him at email@example.com.
Joyce Chu is the social justice reporter for The Progress-Index.
This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Authorities found man who escaped from a Virginia mental hospital