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Woman is 14th prisoner to escape police custody in Hamilton County in two months

She is fifth to have escaped from UCMC in that time
Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 14:37:34-04

CINCINNATI — A woman fled police custody while she was receiving treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, becoming the 14th prisoner to escape in Hamilton County in two months and the fifth to escape from the hospital in that timeframe.

According to court documents, 36-year-old Karess Rankin was allegedly putting a shopping cartload of stolen merchandise from Walmart into her car on July 24. When police arrived, Rankin was driving away and an officer initiated a traffic stop, documents say. Rankin complied, but when police attempted to arrest her, she ran, but left her license behind in her vehicle, police said.

When police ran her ID, they learned Rankin's license was suspended and she had warrants open for her arrest, according to court documents. She was later found and arrested in a business on Red Bank Road, police said. From there, Rankin was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for to receive treatment "for an unrelated condition," court documents say.

After that, Rankin fled from UCMC, but court documents do not specify when she escaped or when she was re-apprehended. She has since been caught and is currently in the Hamilton County Justice Center. She has been charged with driving a vehicle with a suspended license and obstructing official business, but she is not charged with escape — a fourth-degree felony.

In the past two months, five prisoners have escaped from UCMC; On Wednesday, Cincinnati police confirmed a man had escaped the hospital shortly after 8 a.m. that morning. Police have not provided a name for that escapee, but said he was detained for car theft. Following that escape Wednesday, Cincinnati police said its officers left the suspect in the custody of the hospital's police, but when CPD came to pick him up after he was discharged, the man had already walked away.

Amanda Nageleisen, director of media relations at UC Health, said she couldn't discuss any specific patient information, but said that, in general, UC Health does not take custody of anyone when they are providing treatment. Suspects are in the custody of the agency that brought them there, Nageleisen said.

On June 8, Russell Baumgartner, an inmate from River City Correctional Center, escaped custody at UCMC.

Timothy Grier walked away from the hospital on June 19; His attorney claimed there were no officers around and Grier didn't know that he wasn't allowed to leave.

On July 3, James Johnson walked away from custody at UCMC while undergoing treatment.

Several inmates have escaped custody from the River City Correctional Center. River City staff since have announced changes to the jail's policies, particularly in cases where inmates are taken to the hospital for treatment. River City said their inmates will no longer be under the hold of hospital staff — instead, a River City staff member has to be with the inmate for the duration of their hospital stay.

12 inmates escape custody in 2 months