On Monday, officials with the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice said two boys had escaped from the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage and that the event, while rare, would typically elicit a response from law enforcement.
Heidi Redick, chief probation officer for the Anchorage region of juvenile justice, said division personnel would immediately contact law enforcement when an escape became apparent.
Redick and Dennis Weston, superintendent of southcentral regional facilities for juvenile justice, would not talk about the specifics of the case as both of the boys who escaped are minors.
They did, however, outline staff protocol in the event of an escape.
The Kenai boy, Tyler Sargent, whose mother said he escaped from the youth center on Friday is juvenile and a warrant will be filed for his arrest through the division of juvenile justice.
Redick said warrants can take a few days to process, but an escape that happened on Friday would typically result in a warrant being issued before the weekend.
However, without leads on where the two boys might have gone, Redick said staff would not be looking for them constantly.
“This is a small town, but it is a big town,” she said of Anchorage. “We’re not looking for them 24/7.”
She said the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers would be notified that the boys had escaped and given the warrant once it is issued.
Without leads, juvenile justice personnel will work on a system of notifications.
“They’ll check in a places where we know kids go, call school resource officers in case they show up at the schools,” she said. “Usually when this happens, they get picked up pretty quick.”
Redick said it is rare for juvenile offenders to escape outright from a facility like McLaughlin, rather some who are in transition have privileges that allow them to leave the facility will refuse to return.
Weston said it had been at least seven years since someone had escaped.
“Our main concern is for these two young men,” Weston said. “They’re in the community. They don’t have many resources. In Tyler’s case, he’s not familiar with the Anchorage community. We’re concerned about them.”
McLaughlin said officials would meet on Monday to discuss releasing information to the public about the two escaped boys.
Sargent’s mother, Crystal Locke, said she heard from authorities Monday morning. One, who told her that a pickup order — a type of warrant — had been filed in the case on Sunday.
“I did hear from (a staff member) at McLaughlin who basically just apologized profusely for not notifying me sooner and the lack of communication,” Locke said. “There are people looking for him. I feel better knowing that someone is looking.”
A Kenai woman is waiting to hear from authorities after her 16-year-old son escaped from a juvenile detention facility in Anchorage on Friday.
Crystal Locke said her son, Tyler Sargent, escaped from the McLaughlin Youth Center along with another detainee at the facility. The two were able to escape by pushing down a section of the fence near the facility’s kitchen.
“They literally just walked out of the fence,” Locke said.
The move came as a surprise for her as she spoke to her son Friday evening, she said.
“He sounded happy and fine. He had just talked to my ex-husband in Washington an hour before,” she said. “He asked if he could call me back on Saturday because he was playing outside with the other kids.”
A man answering the phone at the McLaughlin Youth Center on Sunday evening directed questions to administrators who were not available at the facility. He did not confirm details about the missing boys.
Locke said the boys escaped Friday night but she did not get a phone call about the event until Saturday morning. She also has not gotten confirmation that anyone is looking for her son.
“I talked to (a McLaughlin supervisor) this morning and he said, ‘You know, it’s really just a waiting game, we sent his picture to Anchorage (Police Department),” Locke said. “When I called Anchorage PD, they said that they’re not looking for him, there’s no missing person’s report, there’s no runaway report, no warrant to locate him at all.”
Locke said she was told an officer’s notes indicated that employees from the McLaughlin Youth Facility were waiting to get in touch with Sargent’s probation officer and seek a warrant.
“His PO is out until Tuesday. So, (Sargent) already has a couple of days head start with no one looking for him,” Locke said.
A dispatcher from the Anchorage Police Department said no one on shift Sunday evening would have any information about the missing kids and directed calls to a public information officer who did not immediately return a call.
Locke said he has escaped from detention in the past. He previously ran away from the Johnson Youth Center in Juneau.
“Along with the escape, he stole a car, led police on a high speed chase and totaled the car into a barrier of some kind,” Locke wrote in a message.
He was sent to the Anchorage facility after stealing snacks from Walmart in Kenai, a tablet from Kenai Middle School and a laptop from the family’s former neighbor.
“All of which (other than the snacks he ate) were returned,” Locke wrote.
She said he the boy does not have a history of violence, though she was told he ran from a McLaughlin Youth Facility employee who spotted him outside of the facility. She said her son has poor impulse control due to a traumatic brain injury he got in a car accident. It’s that same poor impulse control that has her worried about what will happen to him in Anchorage.
“He makes very poor decisions. He’s 16. He doesn’t know anybody in Anchorage,” she said.
To compound matters, her family moved about a month ago and Sargent — who has been in the state’s custody for about 10 months — has never been to the new home. “I would hope that he would come home, but I don’t think so,” she said. “I don’t think he could find it, even if he wanted to.”
Sargent is about 6-feet tall with light brown hair and hazel eyes. He is thin, weighing about 150 pounds. Locke said he has a scar that stretches from the corner of his right eye, across the bridge of his nose and to the corner of his left eye.
She encouraged people to contact the Anchorage Police Department if they see him, but if that doesn’t work to call her at 907-395-7310.
Sargent said she’ll be calling several more places on Monday to make sure someone is looking for her son.
“I’d really like law enforcement to be looking for him, especially in such a big city,” she said. “I just want him home. Not even home with me, I understand that he has consequences. But I need to know that he is going to be safe and in a secure environment. That’s what I thought we were sending him to when we sent him to McLaughlin.”
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