Larned escapee still at large, law enforcement calls escape ‘sheer incompetence’

Local

John Freeman Colt (Courtesy Barton County Sheriff’s Office)

PAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas authorities continue to look for a man who escaped from the Larned State Hospital’s Sexual Predator Treatment Program.

John Freeman Colt is a lifetime registered sex offender in Kansas, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The Kansas Offender Registry lists his primary address as the Larned State Hospital.

The Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office said Colt walked out of LSH around 7:09 a.m., on June 30, and was last seen around 11:10 a.m. walking north from the Kwik Shop on Broadway in Larned. The department warned the public that Colt should be considered dangerous.

Kansas authorities continue to look for John Freeman Colt who escaped from Larned State Hospital’s Sexual Predator Treatment Program. (Photos courtesy of Barton County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas)

Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir is calling 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.

In a statement to the public, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett said Colt is still missing, is considered dangerous, and should not be approached.

According to the Pawnee County Local Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office, Colt walked out of the hospital disguised as hospital staff.

Authorities were able to use private security cameras to determine Colt walked south in the 1300 block on Broadway. McNett said authorities were not notified until 12:47 p.m. At that time, LSH used its notification system for area residents.

“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.”

Pawnee County Attorney Doulas McNett

On July 6, Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King made the decision to get a search warrant to “expedite the securing of critical evidence related to the investigation.”

“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,” McNett said in his statement.

According to the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office, on Tuesday, July 13, the sheriff’s office went to Larned State Hospital Campus and served a search warrant at the superintendent’s office.

“We continue to take necessary steps to expedite the gathering of any and all information that is critical to this investigation.”

Pawnee County Kansas Sheriff’s Office

Authorities say Colt shaved his head and used a fake identity badge to escape.

Court records say a Shawnee County judge convicted Colt of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated burglary in 2001 against a woman of unspecified age in Topeka

Colt is described as:

  • 5’6″ tall
  • 200 pounds
  • Having blue eyes and short brown hair
  • Having a tattoo on his left arm of a heart with the letters “BH”

Pawnee County Attorney, Doulas McNett’s updated statement:

UPDATE: John Freeman Colt escaped from the Sexual Predator Treatment Program on the campus of Larned State Hospital (LSH) the morning of June 30, 2021. He remains at large. If anyone has information as to his whereabouts, they should contact law enforcement immediately. Do not approach this individual as he is considered dangerous. 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. 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 express 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.

KDADS Secretary Laura Howard shared the following statement Friday:

“I want there to be a clear understanding that I take the escape of Mr. Colt from KDADS custody very seriously. That has been my stance from the beginning and that is my stance today. The agency’s first priority is ensuring law enforcement expeditiously has everything necessary, with or without a warrant, to ensure Mr. Colt is apprehended. As an agency, we have chosen not to respond to comments on social media in an effort to not interfere or inhibit the law enforcement investigation that will lead to Mr. Colt’s arrest. The public should know I ordered a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding the escape.”

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