Oregon psychiatric patient found after nearly a month on the run

Police and state mental health officials were looking for 36-year-old Thaddeus Ziemlak, last seen January 5.

Posted: Jan 24, 2020 11:20 AM
Updated: Jan 29, 2020 11:23 AM

EUGENE, Ore. — Police in the northeastern Oregon city of Pendleton say that a potentially dangerous psychiatric patient who went missing earlier this month has now been taken into custody — after reportedly traveling over 1,000 miles.

State mental health officials announced that they were looking for the man earlier this week. He had already been missing for several weeks at that point, according to a post from the Eugene Police Department.

The agency said that it received a notice from the Oregon Psychiatric Review Board. The Board was asking for help from the public in finding 36-year-old Thaddeus Ziemlak, a man who has been living at a residential facility in Pendleton.

Ziemlak was last seen around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 5, when he left the facility on a "planned community outing" to the local Safeway, Walmart, and other nearby areas. He was supposed to return by 2:30 p.m., but never came back.

"When last seen, Ziemlak appeared psychiatrically stable, but currently is considered a danger to others," the Psychiatric Review Board said.

Ziemlak reportedly has a history of drug abuse, and that could make his mental health condition worse. The Board urged anyone who sees him to call police immediately, but not to approach him.

Ziemlak is described as a white man of about five feet, 10 inches tall and 170 pounds. He has sandy brown hair and green eyes. His face is "pockmarked" due to acne scarring. He was last seen wearing a black zip-up hoodie, blue jeans, black tennis shoes, and a black beanie. Ziemlak wears wire-rimmed glasses and "normally walks with his head down," the Psychiatric Board said. He was also carrying a black backpack when he disappeared.

According to court documents, Ziemlak was found "guilty except for insanity" for murdering his mother in 2004. He was also convicted twice for escaping custody of the Oregon Psychiatric Board in 2006 and 2011.

In 2017, the Psychiatric Security Review Board granted Ziemlak conditional release, allowing him to be outside of a secure facility as long as he remained "within 20 feet and within line of sight" of staff at all times — with the exception of "short and long peer passes and short solo passes." According to the decision, Ziemlak was supposed to carry a GPS-enabled device at all times.

On Wednesday, Pendleton Police confirmed that Ziemlak had been located and taken into custody. According to a report from northeastern Oregon news outlet My Columbia Basin, Ziemlak was found in Pasadena, California. He'll remain there until he can be properly charged and extradited.

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