Escaped Mental Health Center Prisoner Back in Jail on $2M Bond

A judge on Thursday also ordered a fitness evaluation of Jesse Vega

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    Taxi driver credited with recognizing escapee from Elgin mental health center and turning him over to police. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    Almost exactly 24 hours after he escaped from an Elgin Mental Health Center vehicle and led some 50 police officers on an eight-hour search, Jesse Vega had his latest day in court Thursday morning.

    Vega told a bond court judge he hears voices in his head and begged for mental treatment. Judge Robert Villa set bond at $1 million on the new felony escape charge, and notified Vega that a Lake County judge had also set his bond at $1 million for charges related to the 2013 beating of his girlfriend at Six Flags Great America.

    Prisoner Escaped En Route to Courthouse: Police

    [CHI] Prisoner Escaped En Route to Courthouse: Police
    Elgin Police provide an update about how Jesse Vega escaped from Elgin Mental Health Center custody Wednesday morning. (Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    Judge Villa also ordered a fitness evaluation of Vega. His next court date was set for July 28.

    Vega, 33, of Chicago got away from the facility's custody around 8 a.m. in the area of Seneca Street and Dundee Avenue in Elgin, police said. Vega was at the facility because he was deemed unfit to stand trial for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend last year.

    Exclusive: Cops Catch Escapee From Elgin Mental Health Center

    [CHI] Exclusive: Cops Catch Escapee From Elgin Mental Health Center
    Jesse Vega is seen in the back of an Elgin Police squad car. Vega escaped from the Elgin Mental Health Center earlier in the day. (Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    Vega was arrested after getting into a cab Wednesday afternoon and asking to go to the airport. The driver, Ken Dunbar, recognized him from police alerts and drove around the block a couple times hoping police would be in the area. He eventually turned the suspect over.

    "I just knew that he wasn't going to go to the airport, and I knew that sooner or later the cops were around here, so I knew sooner or later they were just going to catch up with him," Dunbar said.

    Cmdr. Ana Lalley said Vega, who also uses the name Jesse Ortiz, escaped from custody while en route to the Lake County Courthouse to receive a court date for a felony case.

    Vega is accused of attacking his girlfriend at Six Flags Great America on Sept. 29, 2013. According to documents, the woman was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center's intensive care unit where she was put into a medically induced coma for a fractured skull with bleeding on the brain.

    The woman survived. Vega was charged with eight felony counts, including aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place, obstruction of justice and aggravated DUI.
    Lalley said Vega was handcuffed in the front when he escaped. The vehicle was stopped when Vega fled.

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