A 17-year-old rape suspect who escaped from a Howard County hospital and eluded authorities in Maryland for four days despite a massive manhunt was ordered held without bond yesterday after being captured by D.C. police.
Daniel Dennis Collins, who had been imprisoned at a high-security state mental facility prior to his escape Jan. 5, was apprehended by police officers responding to a reported break-in in Northeast Washington.
Police said Collins' capture began with a 2:30 a.m. call yesterday of a break-in at a vacant apartment in the 3700 block of Hayes St. NE. One responding officer, 35-year-old Dennis Duperre, entered the darkened apartment and was struck in the face with a nail-studded board. He later required six stitches.
A second officer, James Beadel, chased the suspect on foot for more than a mile to a residential area in the 1100 block of 40th St. NE while as many as 20 squad cars converged on the scene, police said. Authorities said they realized the suspect was Collins when they spotted his T-shirt identifying the Clifton T. Perkins Medical Center, the mental facility where he had been imprisoned.
According to police, the suspect knocked on the door of one house but was not let inside, then went to a second house where he broke a window and entered while the residents fled.
Police said the house was empty when they arrived, but Collins was spotted hiding in some bushes nearby. A police dog was brought in to flush out Collins.
Collins was taken to D.C. General Hospital for treatment of a cut on one hand and dog bites on his legs, police said.
Police said Collins is suspected of abducting one woman, raping another and assaulting an elderly couple at a church in Jessup after his escape. He had been in custody since August on charges of raping five women, as well as numerous auto thefts, assaults and abductions.
Police yesterday said they did not know where Collins had been for the last four days or how he had arrived in the District.
Collins looked frail and weak as deputy federal marshals pushed him in a wheelchair into a courtroom in D.C. Superior Court to face a fugitive charge and a charge of first-degree burglary. His family had hired attorney Harry T. Alexander, a flamboyant one-time judge, who said Collins was "incoherent" and in need of psychiatric care.
"He is in no way mentally capable," Alexander told a court hearing commissioner.
Earlier, Alexander had asked that Collins be examined by a nurse in the court cellblock because Collins was "shivering" from cold and "might go into shock."
Alexander asked deputy marshals to pull Collins' wheelchair away from the bench and display his clients' bandages for Commissioner Evelyn E.C. Queen, who ordered Collins committed for a psychiatric evaluation pending a hearing today on his mental competency.
Alexander maintained that Collins is not competent to make a decision on whether to waive his right to a hearing on his proposed extradition to Maryland.
U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova, who made an unusual appearance in court yesterday, said his office charged Collins with burglary as an adult merely to hold him here pending extradition and that he would seek to have Collins returned to Maryland as quickly as possible.
"We did not want to take the chance of having him out there on the streets as a juvenile," diGenova said.
Collins is currently on probation for a robbery conviction last year in Arlington, authorities said.
A search using roadblocks, helicopters and teams of dogs was launched last week when Collins escaped from the grounds of Howard County Hospital, where he had been taken for X-rays from the Perkins mental facility in Jessup.
State and local police searched for Collins in Anne Arundel and Howard counties to no avail. On Tuesday, police in Anne Arundel were convinced they had caught Collins in a gymnasium storeroom, only to learn later that the suspect was merely a look-alike.
D.C. police Chief Maurice T. Turner yesterday commended members of the police 6th District involved in Collins' capture.