BANGOR, Maine — Several people called police Tuesday to report a possible escapee after seeing a man who was sentenced on Monday to time at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta for his involvement in a stabbing nearly two years ago.
Clinton Grubbs, 49, of Bangor went to the library at University of Maine at Augusta, Bangor campus, just before noon and to other locations where people recognized his picture from a Bangor Daily News story about his sentencing Monday by Superior Court Justice William Anderson.
“People had read [the] article and seen the picture and saw this guy walking around,” Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said Tuesday. “They were wondering, ‘Did he escape?’”
Bangor had a murder suspect who escaped from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in June and was on the lam for a day before he was caught after he swam to Brewer.
Grubbs, who has been out on bail since shortly after his arrest in January 2010, was sentenced to time at Riverview Monday after Anderson found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the stabbing of a man who lived in the same Essex Street boarding house.
Roberts said he was told at court on Monday that “Riverview did not have a bed for him” and the decision was made to send him to the facility in two weeks.
“He’s suffered from this mental illness since the early ’90s at least and this was the one instance” when he reportedly caused harm to another, Roberts said.
Riverview Superintendent Mary Louise McEwen said Tuesday that she couldn’t talk specifically about patients, but added, “We do have a bed.” She noted that “NCR (not criminally responsible) patients are our top priority for a bed.”
When criminal defendants are sentenced to Riverview, a judge must sign an order that is sent to the State Forensic Service, which then coordinates with Riverview about setting a date for admission.
“We have had no referral for NCR clients in the last few days,” McEwen said. “We do have a bed today. If we had received the appropriate paperwork, we would have been able to coordinate an admission.”
Grubbs has not been involved in any known crimes in the nearly two years he has been out on bail, Roberts said.
Grubbs was accused of stabbing a 57-year-old man in the side of his abdomen and his right hand with a 4-to-5-inch chopping-style knife on Jan. 6, 2010. Frederick Pond of Bangor underwent emergency surgery that same day. He died on April 27, 2010, according to an obituary published in the Bangor Daily News.
Grubbs entered a no contest plea to elevated aggravated assault at the hearing Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
“I know he is out on bail. We don’t have a hold on him,” Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross said Tuesday.
While McEwen said Riverview had a bed available on Tuesday, Ross noted “capacity is a big issue. Capacity is something I’m very concerned about,” especially with recent talks about closing Dorothea Dix, one of three facilities that can take Penobscot County Jail inmates who are mentally ill.
The jail and Riverview have an agreement to have one bed on hand if needed. “It’s almost never available,” Ross said.
It’s easy to blame facilities when the spotlight should be placed on the rules, the sheriff said.
“Let’s look at the system,” he said, adding that without fundamental changes, “I don’t see it getting better. I only see us digging the hole deeper.”
A librarian at UMA Bangor called security at about noon Tuesday to say Grubbs was in the library. Campus security then called Bangor police to investigate.
“I can confirm we went to the library and that Mr. Grubbs was there and that no criminal action was taken and we cleared,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a statement.
Grubbs also was seen at other locations by people who called police, Roberts said.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.