Autistic teen on trial for fatally stabbing mother captured hours after he escaped from juvenile facility
A teen who was in the middle of a murder trial in his mother's stabbing death in 2017 escaped the Southern California jail where he was being held, only to be recaptured a few hours later because of what authorities called a "very good lead".
The 15-year-old, Ike Souzer, had been in custody since he was 13, which is when he was arrested and charged on suspicion of fatally stabbing his mother, 48-year-old Barbra Scheuer-Souzer. A spokeswoman for the District Attorney's office said he was in the middle of his trial for the charge at a juvenile court when he managed to escape Orange County Juvenile Hall, the facility where he was incarcerated.
The 6-foot-tall, 200-pound Souzer reportedly got onto the roof of the facility and then jumped the perimeter fence on Friday, April 12, with surveillance footage from the scene showing him sporting red pants and a white shirt.
Footage also showed Souzer tending to an apparent wound on his leg shortly after escaping and then walking casually away from the facility. Jail staff had spotted the teen and turned on a facility-wide alarm and alerted the sheriff's office, but he still evaded capture.
The response from concerned authorities was immediate, with Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Peters stating that at least 60 officials were working "to turn over every rock" to find Souzer. They were later joined by the FBI and US Marshals Service as well.
Then, late on Friday night, the sheriff's department announced that Souzer was back in their custody. A law enforcement official revealed that a "very good lead" led them to a McDonald's restaurant in Anaheim at about 9 pm, where they found the teen.
Peters said they had to provide medical treatment to the 15-year-old for puncture wounds he had suffered on his legs which he had most probably sustained during his escape from the juvenile hall a few hours earlier.
Steve Sentman, the chief probation officer for the county, said Souzer's escape was the first in the 434-bed facility in at least two decades. He said an investigation was underway to find out how he had been allowed to get past security.
A GoFundMe page set up to help Scheuer-Souzer's family following her death stated that Souzer suffered from autism and that she had helped him get from non-verbal to verbal status through her "unconditional love and commitment."
Her success had reportedly prompted her to get a formal education in spectrum disorders from UCLA, with the GoFundMe page explaining that the 48-year-old was all set to graduate with her degree just one month after her life was tragically cut short "by the son she dedicated her life to love, nurture, and sacrifice for."
Souzer's public defender, David Hammond, has not commented on the escape. Officials said his trial was set to conclude this week.
With contributions from the Associated Press.