Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Merits of Taking the Criminally Insane to the State Fair

I couldn't tell you if there are any, but apparently the staff at Eastern State Hospital in Washington seem to think there are. Unfortunately, this insane killer decided to go AWOL.

I can't say I'm too surprised. I used to live right down the hill from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, and security there has never been exactly what you'd call tight. Or even existent. Patients used to walk into town with some frequency, and the EHS staff wasn't particularly concerned about who came on campus either. You can drive right through the campus and past the old "hospital" for the criminally insane about a mile past the main campus. I remember one winter evening, when we were having dinner, a man came right up to our patio sliding-glass door and knocked. He was dressed in a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and khakis. My dad opened to see what he needed, and all he said was, "I'm cold." My dad let him in, and he came in and warmed up, and my dad later drove him back up to the hospital. He gave my dad three different names.

A look at Google Earth shows me that the area has been expanded quite a bit and doesn't have the same "charm" that it used to have. Maybe "creep factor" would be more accurate. As kids living in the vicinity, it was an excellent source for horror stories and such. Not to say that we avoided it at all. We were on the hill every chance we could get.

The hill itself is actually quite beautiful, rising between Medical Lake proper and West Medical Lake. My family's house was on the east end of Medical Lake, just up a hill and overlooking the lake.

There was an old concrete hut on the side of the lake. We imagined it was a pill box, but of course, there was no reason for anyone to build a pill box next to the lake. There were also little "caves" in the rock and various places where we could get into danger. On the eastern end of the hospital campus was a granite slide, and further east a thicker wood where our "military campaigns" took place.

Medical Lake has a reputation, not only for Eastern State Hospital, but also Lakeland Village (a home for people with developmental disabilities) and Interlake School. Nonetheless, it was a great place to live at the time. I really hated leaving there for Anchorage, AK.

UPDATE: Holy cow, like they couldn't have predicted something was up? The guy had a backback with a change of clothes and an electric guitar with him. For a trip to the freaking fair?
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