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Judge Orders Fitness Exam For Prisoner Who Escaped In Elgin

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Jesse Vega (Credit: Elgin Police)

Jesse Vega (Credit: Elgin Police)

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ELGIN, Ill. (CBS) – A judge has ordered a mental fitness evaluation for a 33-year-old prisoner who escaped from custody on Wednesday, because the man says he hears voices in his head.

Jesse Vega appeared before a Kane County judge Thursday morning, and told the judge he hears voices. The judge set his bond at $1 million and ordered a mental fitness evaluation.

Vega was being transported to the Lake County courthouse from the Elgin Mental Health Center on Wednesday when he managed to get free, though he was still in handcuffs when he escaped.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services said an internal review was being conducted to determine how Vega managed to escape. EMHC staff were taking Vega to court at the time.

Police SWAT teams scoured the area for eight hours Wednesday morning and afternoon, after he escaped near Seneca Street and Dundee Avenue, about 2 ½ miles away from the mental health center.

He was captured in a tax in a parking lot, after he hailed a cab while still wearing cuffs.

Police said social media helped spread the word about Vega’s escape, and helped officers track him down.

Cab driver Aaron Dunbar recognized Vega from an alert on his phone.

“He got in the cab and he wanted to go to the airport,” said Dunbar. “I told him he had to pay upfront, so he was on my phone for about 10 minutes trying to convince somebody to send him money through the credit card, and that is when the police showed up.”

A Facebook post warning the public about his escape was shared more than 2,800 times.

Officials announced his capture in a YouTube video.
Vega is a convicted felon with a long rap sheet that includes convictions for theft, aggravated DUI, drug violations.

At the time he escaped, he was in custody of the mental health center after being found unfit for trial on charges he attacked a woman he knew in a parking lot at Six Flags Great America last September. He allegedly fractured the victim’s skull, but she survived.

He was charged with aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery, obstructing justice and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. After he was found unfit for trial, he was ordered into the custody of the Department of Human Services for fitness restoration at a mental health facility.

Vega was due back in court on July 28.

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