Classic Signals: Hospital patients escape

By Elise Schoening
Features Editor

Every week, Features Editor Elise Schoening hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

In 2005, a slew of incidents at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital left students from the College on edge, particularly those residing at an apartment complex next door to the hospital. Three patients escaped from the hospital in just three days, which was particularly worrisome since an earlier escapee ended up murdering his father while on the loose.

Two more patients at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, David Mullins and Sandra Pressley, escaped Sept. 14, and a third, Christopher Hammell escaped Sept. 16. Hammell was found and returned to custody Sept. 17, but Mullins and Pressley are still missing.

While the patients are not considered dangerous, the College has advised students to stay away from the patients if they see them, and to call Campus Police.

These escapes, in conjunction with the earlier escape of Michael Janicki, a schizophrenic 22-year-old who killed his father with a samurai sword, have made many students who live in the Country Club Apartments next door concerned about their safety.

“This fence is what separates us from mentally ill people,” Tom Sales, junior political science major, said while pointing to the fence that is the only barrier between the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and the Country Club Apartments.

“It’s crazy that we’re living next to crazies,” Sales said.

Jennifer Soderstrom, junior elementary education and history major, said she sometimes can hear the voices of the hospital patients at night.

Lauren Baines, junior management major, said a Campus Police car occasionally sits in the lot a couple of hours at a time, but that there is no major police presence. The security booth that sits in the apartment’s driveway is always empty, she said.

Students have lost trust in local police because of the extensive period of time police took to find the body, which never left the hospital campus.

For Sales, another one of the more infuriating aspects is how the college has handled telling students about the escapes.

When Janicki escaped two weeks ago, a flier was handed out that stated the fact that an inmate had escaped, not that he was considered dangerous. It also lacked a description of what he looked like, or in what clothes he was last seen.