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‘No way for us to know’: Prisoner was discharged from KC area hospital by accident

·2 min read

A man sentenced to federal prison for making death threats against three Kansas City judges was allowed to leave a Leavenworth hospital last week because its staff were unaware that he was still technically in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, a spokesman for the hospital said Monday.

Bruce DeWayne Jensen, 44, was apprehended in Independence on Sunday night — four days after he was allowed to walk away from St. John Hospital. Jensen had been transferred to Grossman Residential Reentry Center, a federally contracted halfway house in Leavenworth, on the same day he fled federal custody, according to a recent criminal complaint.

Court records show Jensen was taken to St. John Hospital by halfway house staff on May 12 around 1 p.m. “in search of psychological treatment.” Two hours later, the halfway house contacted the hospital to check on Jensen’s condition. That’s when they learned hospital staff had discharged Jensen and advised him to walk to a nearby community center, court records said.

Jensen never showed up at the community center. By the following day, the U.S. Marshals Service began asking for public assistance to help find him. Members of the public were warned not to interact with Jensen as he was described as having “suicidal thoughts, mental health concerns, and violent tendencies.”

Sam Allred, a spokesman for the hospital, said St. John takes the safety of its staff and community very seriously. He said staff were not contacted by the halfway house prior to Jensen’s arrival and were completely unaware of his status as a prisoner, saying the hospital has a strict policy for handling such patients.

“If someone’s in law enforcement custody, they bring that patient to us in custody and we require that guards stay with that person the whole time,” Allred said. “This gentleman showed up on his own, so there was no way for us to know that he was or was not in any type of a custody situation.”

“As far as we knew, he was just like anybody else coming off the street,” Allred added. “So we treated him that way.”

Jensen pleaded guilty in 2017 of sending death threats to three federal judges by U.S. mail. He was sentenced to seven years in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth. He made similar threats in earlier cases, court records show.

“When I get out of jail I’m going to kill your whole family then kill you as well,” Jensen wrote in a 2016 letter. “This is because of all the convicts you sent to prison.”

In another, he told the judge: “Enjoy what little life you got left before I get out.”

Jensen was transferred to the halfway house as a precondition for his scheduled release on May 28, court records said. He now faces new criminal charges for escaping federal custody.