Inmate who fled Iowa hospital on lam for 18 hours

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A jail inmate with a history of fleeing custody escaped from an Iowa City hospital and eluded authorities during a more than 18-hour crime spree that police say included multiple carjackings and subsequent crashes.

Anthony Koehlhoeffer was arrested about 6 p.m. Wednesday in Bettendorf, near the Iowa-Illinois border, after crashing one of several vehicles he’s believed to have stolen while on the lam.

Koehlhoeffer, who had been held on charges stemming from two robberies, escaped about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday while receiving court-ordered treatment at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. Police said the 20-year-old then assaulted a female student in a residence hall parking lot and stole her car. The student was not seriously injured.

About 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, a man believed to be Koehlhoeffer — dressed in the hospital-issued gown, flip-flops and a hooded sweat shirt — committed a second carjacking at an Iowa City convenience store, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Denise Brotherton.

Brotherton said the stolen green Buick crashed into another vehicle, and the man fled through the snow in 10-degree weather. No one was injured.

Police said a woman reported at 9:15 a.m. that she was carjacked and forced to drive the man 55 miles east to Bettendorf. He fled on foot again and left the woman physically unharmed in her vehicle, Brotherton said.

Hours later, Koehlhoeffer crashed a vehicle in Bettendorf that he is accused of carjacking in nearby Davenport, said Bettendorf police spokeswoman Lauran Haldeman.

“He tried to flee and he flipped the car,” said Haldeman, who didn’t know if Koehlhoeffer was injured, but said he was taken to Genesis Medical Center-East in Davenport.

A nursing supervisor at the hospital said she could not release any information Wednesday night. Koehlhoeffer was not available for comment and officials did not know if he had an attorney.

Haldeman said in a late Wednesday statement that charges were pending in Bettendorf. University of Iowa police earlier issued an arrest warrant for Koehlhoeffer on a second-degree robbery charge. Authorities in Jefferson County issued an arrest warrant over the escape from custody and Iowa City police issued a warrant for Koehlhoeffer’s arrest on a third-degree kidnapping charge with a $1 million bond.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jerry Droz said his employees brought Koehlhoeffer to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics for court-ordered treatment Tuesday. Authorities declined to discuss the nature of the treatment, citing federal privacy law. Droz said the hospital signed paperwork taking custody, but university spokesman Tom Moore disputed that.

Moore said inmates are released from custody when they receive treatment and it’s up to law enforcement agencies to keep staff on site if they believe inmates should be guarded.

Moore did acknowledge that university police waited too long — more than 9 hours — before sending a warning about the escape and carjacking to students, faculty and staff on Wednesday morning.

“We have a duty to notify the UI community that a crime has occurred on campus, and that means that the delay was not acceptable,” Moore said.

Koehlhoeffer had previously pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the October robberies of a McDonald’s in Fairfield, Iowa, and Pilot Grove Savings Bank in Packwood, Iowa. Authorities said he brandished a knife during the bank robbery and was arrested after he fled by running across an open field.

According to the Memphis Democrat newspaper, Koehlhoeffer escaped from custody in Missouri in 2008 while waiting to be booked on a warrant stemming from a parole violation, and he was captured after nearly four hours. Online court records show he was sentenced to two years in prison and four years of probation.

The newspaper reported Koehlhoeffer had been on parole after fleeing from custody in July 2007 following his arrest on suspicion of forcible sexual contact with a 13-year-old female. That charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of escape from custody, court records show.

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