VERNON, Texas (KXAN) — An Austin man acquitted in his father’s death is on the run, after escaping the North Texas State Hospital.
Alexander Scott Ervin, 29, was acquitted by reason of insanity for the 2013 stabbing his father inside his west Austin home. Staff at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, near the Oklahoma border, told police he escaped Sunday night.
Hospital security video revealed Ervin left his room and scaled an eight-foot security fence before running off. Vernon police consider him to be armed and dangerous.
“When Lex was committed there, I felt great relief, because I felt like Lex would be safe, and everyone else would be safe. This is a maximum security facility. I never, ever imagined that he would ever be able to escape,” said Leslie Ervin, Alexander’s mom. She said his family calls him Lex.
Leslie said she found out about her son’s escape when his former attorney called her Monday morning — hours before hospital officials called her.
“I was terrified,” she said. “My first thought was that I was terrified for Lex, then I was terrified for my family. Then I was terrified for the community.”
She worries that unmedicated, her son could be violent and dangerous.
“When Lex is on his medication, he’s a pussycat. He’s a sweetheart,” Leslie said. “When he’s off his meds, all bets are off. We don’t know what he’s going to do. We don’t know how he’s gonna react. I don’t think he knows what’s going on at that point.”
She said her family is protecting themselves, and she reached out to KXAN News to make sure the community knows to protect themselves, too, and to call 911 if they see her son.
“He killed his dad, and he did that unmedicated. When he was in … a psychotic break,” Leslie said. “He was totally in a delusion. And I’m afraid that that might happen again. He hasn’t been unmedicated for many years.”
In 2014, a Travis County jury found Ervin, who has autism, not guilty of murder by reason of insanity in Ray Scott Ervin’s death. When Austin police arrived to the home near Camp Mabry, officers found Ray covered in blood. Ervin’s younger brother, Max, told the court his brother believed their father was an “imposter, and he’s a trained assassin.”
Max said his brother attacked their dad with a pipe wrench in one hand and knife in the other.
Marc Chavez, who prosecuted the case, said he’s on alert.
“We all, frankly, being involved in the trial, understood not only his mental illness struggle, but also his aptitude for violence, if not on the appropriate mental illness therapy,” Chavez said. “And, obviously, if he’s on the loose, on the run, he’s not receiving the appropriate medication necessary.”
Leslie wants to know how her son was able to escape the state hospital. She said she’s visited her son there before.
“I want people to know that North Texas State Hospital is a maximum security facility surrounded by 15-foot walls. People just don’t walk out of there,” she said.
KXAN reached out to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the North Texas State Hospital, about how Ervin was able to escape.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson there said because of state law and HIPAA, they cannot confirm or deny the identity of a patient “or provide information about any incident that could indirectly identify a patient.”
In general, spokesperson Kelli Weldon wrote, anytime there is an “unauthorized departure,” state hospital leaders immediately alert law enforcement and, if appropriate, HHSC Provider Investigations.
PI also investigates claims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
“I love him, but he committed murder. And now, because of some incompetence at North Texas State Hospital, he’s now on the street,” she said. “I want to know how the heck this happened … and what they’re going to do to prevent it from happening again in the future.”
Until then, Leslie thinks everyone who comes into contact with Ervin is in danger.
“And I wanted to get in touch with you guys because guess what? He could be in Austin. Austin is five hours from Vernon,” she said.
Leslie also wants people to know her son attended a camp in Utah for some time where he learned some survival skills, like how to build a fire or get water out of a plant.
“So he also is … potentially able to live off the land, as well,” she said. “That’s something that concerns me, because he could disappear for a while if he found a source of water.”
Ervin was last seen wearing a gray zip-up hoodie, black shirt, tan pants and black shoes, according to Vernon Police. He’s described as:
- A white man
- 5’8″ to 6′ tall
- About 206 pounds
- Bald with a mustache
If you have information on his whereabouts, you’re asked to call 911.