BANGOR — A murder suspect who escaped from a psychiatric hospital by climbing over a fence never should’ve been there in the first place, according to the Penobscot County sheriff.

Sheriff Glenn Ross says it’s a catch-22 because the jail can’t meet William Hall’s psychiatric needs, but the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center also is ill-equipped to deal with suspected criminals like Hall. He says better mechanisms need to be in place for such inmates.

“Finger-pointing does not fix the system,” Ross said. “The state needs to address this, and it’s something I’ve been hollering about for years.”

Hall, 29, of Bangor, was sent to Dorothea Dix after his June 15 arrest. He is charged with strangling Melvin Abreu on June 9 and throwing his body out a window.

Hall was captured about 14 hours after he fled Tuesday night from the Bangor hospital and reportedly swam across the Penobscot River into Brewer to evade police.

Linda Abernethy, superintendent at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, declined to comment on the case last week. The attorney general’s office also declined to comment. Hall’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarres, said he couldn’t discuss the incident, either.

But Ross was willing to speak out. He told the Bangor Daily news that the case highlights deficiencies in the handling of criminal suspects with psychiatric needs.

The jail is equipped to deal with some defendants with basic mental problems, but those with serious needs are typically sent to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta or Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor. Only Riverview is equipped to handle such criminal suspects, Hall said.

“In nearly all cases, Riverview is full,” Ross said. “When that happens, we have to keep them at the hospital or find another place for them.”

After his capture, Hall was taken to the Penobscot County Jail, where he was charged with felony escape. He’s now being held at the Riverview Psychiatric Center.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.