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LSH escapee still at large
Law enforcement expresses frustration
John Freeman Colt
John Freeman Colt

John Freeman Colt, who escaped from the Sexual Predator Treatment Program on the campus of Larned State Hospital the morning of June 30, remains at large, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett announced Monday.

“If anyone has information as to his whereabouts, they should contact law enforcement immediately,” McNett posted on Facebook. “Do not approach this individual as he is considered dangerous.”

Local law enforcement officers expressed frustration with how the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services handled notification of the escape. McNett’s post included this update which has also been re-posted by the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office and on the Support Your Local Barton County Sheriff Facebook page:

Posted on Facebook

The Pawnee County Local Emergency Preparedness Committee received an update from Sheriff Scott King today regarding the basic timeline of Colt’s escape. This timeline included a nearly 5 1/2 hour delay between Colt leaving the facility and law enforcement first being notified. Colt walked out of the building at approximately 7:08 a.m. by disguising himself as hospital staff. He was last seen on private security cameras walking south in the 1300 block on Broadway, Larned, Kansas at approximately 11:20 a.m. on June 30, 2021.  The Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department was not notified of the escape until 12:47 p.m. At that same time LSH activated their notification system for area residence (sic).

Officials from LSH and KDADS were in attendance to answer questions and explain changes made since the escape to prevent this from happening in the future.

Sheriff King, along with the assisting law enforcement agencies, also advised those in attendance as to the efforts law enforcement have made to date, the importance of timely notification and his frustration in getting timely access to video and documentation. Those concerns included an inquiry by KDADS legal department as to the need to obtain a HIPAA related protective order.

I have full confidence in the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department and the assisting law enforcement agencies to pursue all legal means at their disposal to locate and apprehend the escaped violent sexual predator, John Freeman Colt.  To that end, on July 6th Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King made the decision a search warrant was necessary to expedite the securing of critical evidence related to the investigation.  As Sheriff King so passionately (expressed) today, law enforcement should at the very least expect KDADS, the agency actually responsible for the escape and delayed reporting, to show the same level of urgency as the investigators tasked with capturing him.  For the administration in Topeka to inquire at this point about a need for an order to protect “health information” illustrates a total lack of the sense of priorities.  The 5 ½ hour delay between the actual escape and the first notification to law enforcement resulted in the loss of their best window of opportunity to capture the escapee.  Each minute hereafter potentially places the public in greater danger.

Again if anyone has information as to the whereabouts of John Freeman Colt, they should contact law enforcement immediately.