The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 10, 2013

DHS: Security Hospital did not mishandle stabbing incident

ST. PAUL — State regulators who investigated the Minnesota Security Hospital after a patient stabbed his mother while on a pass in May said there is no indication the facility mishandled the incident.

The stabbing took place on May 8 while Burton Ewing, Jr., was on an unsupervised pass with his 69-year-old mother, Marlys Helen Olson. Ewing's weapon was a steak knife his mother had brought along for a picnic. Olson survived the stabbing. Ewing, who is 49, was charged with attempted murder and is being held at the Nicollet County jail.

Clinicians allowed Ewing to go on the pass despite the fact that Ewing tried to kill his mother 13 years earlier. Before he left, no one checked his backpack. Law enforcement officers later searched the bag and found scissors, a winter coat, several changes of clothing and all of Ewing's money.

An unnamed officer interviewed by licensing investigators said Ewing claimed he told Minnesota Security Hospital employees that he had been having thoughts of killing his mother in the weeks leading up to the pass. Ewing told the officer he believed his mother was the "anti-Christ."

Despite these facts, a licensing investigation found no evidence the facility violated any regulations in its handling of the incident, according to an investigative memorandum released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Licensing regulations do not require facilities to search patients' belongings before they leave for a pass, and there is no rule that prevents patients from going on a pass with anyone they tried to harm in the past.

"I think we're all saddened by the consequences here, but we were really not able to find that the facility, in making their clinical judgments, missing anything," said Department of Human Services Inspector General Jerry Kerber, who oversees the licensing division.

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