Real L’Heureux, the 91-year-old World War II veteran who broke out of a locked memory-care facility Tuesday to be with his girlfriend, returned to the facility Wednesday morning, his girlfriend said.

Grace Harakles, who has been romantically involved with L’Heureux for five years, said he returned willingly to the Pavilion so he could take his medications. The Pavilion is an Alzheimer’s and dementia care facility attached to Sanford Medical Center.

“He stayed the night with me, I took care of him, I fed him breakfast this morning,” Harakles said. “He didn’t want to go back to the Pavilion. I tried to prepare him for it, to let him know that in time, he won’t be there.”

His disappearance from the Pavilion on Tuesday led police to launch a search and alert media outlets. Police eventually found him with Harakles but could not force him to return.

L’Heureux has been living in various assisted-care facilities for more than a year, after his family was granted guardianship over him in March 2014.

Harakles and L’Heureux have been dating since 2010, when the two were introduced by one of L’Heureux’s daughters, a letter carrier in Sanford whose route included delivering mail to Harakles.


But the relationship has generated friction for L’Heureux’s children, who have claimed that Harakles encouraged L’Heureux to go against the advice of his doctors and family. Although Harakles said she is able to care for L’Heureux, the court found otherwise, limiting their ability to spend time together.

Since then, the relationship was confined to visiting hours at the unlocked care facility where L’Heureux lived until about a week ago. There, he and Harakles could spend three hours together each day, and she could take him out twice a week. When they couldn’t be together, L’Heureux called Harakles multiple times each day, she said.

That routine stopped when L’Heureux’s family moved him to the Pavilion, a locked facility, which so far has refused to allow Harakles to visit. His phone privileges are now limited to dialing only family members, whose numbers are preprogrammed into a non-traditional phone that does allow him to dial other numbers, Harakles said.

Someone who answered the phone at the home of one of L’Heureux’s relatives declined to comment Tuesday.

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