Third woman arrested on suspicion of helping John Colt escape from Larned

Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A third woman, 29-year-old Syndi Hartman, has been arrested on suspicion of being an accomplice to helping John Colt escape from Larned. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 18. She is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Sydni Hartman (Courtesy: Pawnee County)

The Pawnee County Sheriff had originally stated two women employed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) helped Colt, a dangerous sex offender, escape from Larned on June 30.

Rachel Rena Perez, 50, and Liliana Guadalupe Houser, 45, were charged Tuesday afternoon on dozens of counts in connection to John Freeman Colt’s escape.

Rachel Rena Perez (Courtesy Pawnee County Jail)
Liliana Guadalupe Houser (Courtesy Pawnee County Jail)

It took almost three months before Colt was finally captured in Utah. A viewer who saw Colt’s wanted picture on the news two weeks ago called authorities to say Colt was camping in the Torrey, Utah area.

Investigators believe Colt planned his escape from the Larned State Hospital Sexual Predator Treatment Program for several months. They say he posed as a doctor and made his way past five secured doors and ultimately outside the gates. Part of his escape included getting a replica of a staff ID badge and dress clothes.

KDADS operates Larned State Hospital. On Tuesday, Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King announced that two women who were employed by KDADS leading up to Colt’s escape had been arrested as accomplices.

“My office will continue to take the necessary steps to gather all information into the criminal investigation of who aided John Colt on June 30th,” King said.

Houser was arrested at her current home in Garden City on Oct. 8. Perez was arrested at her home n Larned Tuesday.

After they were in court Tuesday afternoon, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett released details of the charges against the women.

He said Rachel Perez of Larned is charged with 15 counts:

  • Obstructing in the Apprehension or Prosecution of a Registered Sex Offender
  • Unlawful Sexual Relations with a patient while employed by KDADS
  • Nine counts of Traffic in Contraband in a Care & Treatment Facility while employed by KDADS
  • Conspiracy to Traffic Contraband in a Care & Treatment Facility while employed by KDADS
  • Interference with Law Enforcement, to wit: destruction of evidence
  • Interference with Law Enforcement, to wit: providing false information
  • Conspiracy to commit Aggravated Escape from the Sexual Predator Treatment Program

McNett said Houser is charged with 13 counts:

  • Two counts of Unlawful Sexual Relations with a patient while employed by KDADS
  • Ten counts of Traffic in Contraband in a Care & Treatment Facility while employed by KDADS
  • Obstructing in the Apprehension or Prosecution of a Registered Sex Offender

A judge set preliminary hearings for them for Oct. 26. Bond for Perez is set at $75,000. McNett said Houser is being held without bond because she poses a flight risk due to her dual Mexican citizenship.

KSN reached out to KDADS for a response.

Laura Howard, secretary of KDADS, said the staff at the main office in Topeka and at Larned State Hospital are cooperating fully with the continuing investigation.

I want to state unequivocally that we fully support the prosecution of anyone who may have provided Mr. Colt with any assistance in his elopement. As an agency, our in-house response has been a steadfast and thorough administrative analysis of policies and procedures that may have led to the elopement. Our internal investigation has led to numerous personnel actions and operational changes in a determined effort to avoid this in the future.”

Laura Howard, Secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Colt was sentenced in 2001 in Shawnee County for aggravated sexual battery, attempted rape, aggravated burglary, and four counts of aggravated battery against law enforcement. In addition, he was required to register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life.

After his criminal sentence was completed, the Kansas courts deemed him a sexually violent predator at high risk of committing a future sex offense and too dangerous to be released. That is why he was at Larned.

Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir called the escape of Colt from LSH “sheer incompetence” and further impugned the hospital by criticizing the five-and-a-half-hour delay in reporting the escape to the sheriff’s office.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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