Murder suspect escapes Chicago-area hospital
(CNN) — For three months, Mark Cherry lay in a Chicago-area hospital room, close to death.
He suffered a gunshot wound during a home invasion in Gary, Indiana — a crime he is accused of committing, and in which he allegedly shot and killed a 22-year old man.
In late February, fully recovered, Cherry discharged himself and walked out of the hospital.
Now, the victim’s family is questioning how an accused killer could just leave, with no one stopping him. Law enforcement and the hospital are blaming each other for the mix-up. And Cherry is still on the run.
“Why wasn’t he handcuffed? Why didn’t you have a police officer at the door waiting for him to get released?” Lourdes deJesus Correa, mother of the victim, Rolando Correa, told CNN affiliate WLS Tuesday.
The home invasion
Lourdes Correa’s son was killed more than five months ago.
Just before midnight on December 1, Cherry and two other men allegedly forced their way into a home where Rolando Correa was staying.
At some point during the home invasion, shots were fired and Cherry allegedly shot and killed Rolando Correa, Gary Police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King told CNN.
Cherry was also wounded and transported to a local hospital, and then airlifted across state lines to a hospital in Illinois, she said.
That same month, Cherry was charged with murder, attempted murder, criminal confinement, and battery with a deadly weapon.
At Advocate Christ Medical Center, Cherry recovered but was apparently not under police guard during his hospital stay.
The hospital told CNN it can’t hold a patient against their will, and that without prior written consent, can’t alert another person of a patient’s pending discharge.
Privacy laws are in place to prevent that type of information from being shared, a hospital spokesman said.
“If a patient is under suspicion for a serious offense, the police department involved in the case typically posts an officer on site during the period of the hospitalization,” the hospital said.
Gary police say that they have no jurisdiction in Illinois, and that prevented them from having someone guarding Cherry.
“I don’t know what a better scenario would be,” King, the police spokeswoman, said, adding that “we really don’t know who is responsible” for Cherry slipping through the cracks.
Gary police could have asked the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois to monitor the suspect. That wasn’t done.
“Unfortunately, our investigators assumed because he was unconscious that the hospital would give the detective a call before he was released,” Chief Wade Ingram told WLS.
Police are searching for the murder suspect, though there are few clues other than he was discharged from the hospital, King said.
It’s an emotional blow for a family that’s already lost so much.
“It’s like our whole family is falling apart due to this. We are falling apart,” Lourdes deJesus Correa said. “Please, I just want justice for my son. For my family. That’s all I want.”