News Briefs

Sexual predator escapes custody from Kansas mental ward

By: - June 30, 2021 5:29 pm

John Colt, 42, disguised himself and walked away from Larned State Hospital, then hitched a ride, state officials said. (2015 photo by Kansas Department of Corrections)

TOPEKA — State authorities are searching for a man who escaped custody Wednesday from a sexual predator program at the state psychiatric facility in Larned.

Surveillance video shows John Colt, 42, at 7 a.m. walked away from Larned State Hospital after shaving his beard, changing his hair and using a fraudulent ID badge to get through security. He then hitched a ride to the Kwik Shop in Larned, where he was seen walking north.

“My leadership team at Larned is working closely with local law enforcement to ensure this resident is apprehended quickly and without incident,” said Laura Howard, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. “I am in constant contact with the superintendent at Larned and am actively monitoring the situation.”

The Pawnee County sheriff notified area farmers of Colt’s escape. The Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Bureau of Investigation are involved with the search.

Colt is 5-foot-6, 201 pounds, and has a tattoo on his upper left arm with the initials BH. He was last seen wearing a face mask, dress pants and a dress shirt.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Colt was enrolled in the Sexual Predator Treatment Program at the state hospital.

Kansas Department of Corrections online records show he was convicted in 2001 in Shawnee County of aggravated sexual battery. His record also includes felony convictions between 1997 and 2014 in Shawnee, Pawnee and Leavenworth counties for aggravated burglary, criminal damage to property, interference with parental custody, and forgery. He was released from prison in 2016.

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Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the 2021 and 2022 Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.