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updated: 7/28/2014 10:06 PM

Judge: Elgin Mental health escapee to get fitness test

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  • Jesse Vega

    Jesse Vega


A judge Monday ordered a man who authorities say escaped custody of the Elgin Mental Health Center and led police on an eight-hour manhunt earlier this month to undergo a fitness test next week.

Jesse Vega, 33, jumped out of a stopped vehicle just before 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 16, on Elgin's northeast side while being taken to court in Lake County, authorities said. At about 4 p.m., a cabdriver alerted police after picking Vega up within a couple of blocks of the gas station where he escaped, according to authorities.

For his flight and resulting manhunt, which included helicopters, SWAT teams and shut down nearby activities, the Kane County State's Attorney charged Vega with one count of escape.

At the time of his escape, Vega was traveling to a mental fitness hearing on charges related to a brutal attack on his girlfriend in 2013 in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

The girlfriend suffered a fractured skull and swelling on her brain and was admitted into the intensive care unit of an area hospital, said Cynthia Vargas, the Lake County state's attorney's office spokeswoman. She survived the attack.

As a result, Vega was charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of aggravated battery with great bodily harm, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place, then single counts of obstruction of justice and aggravated driving under influence while on a suspended or revoked license, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Mary Kay Foy said.

If found guilty of the charges, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

On Monday morning, a Kane County judge told Vega to return to court 9 a.m. Aug. 7 to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. He remains in the Kane County jail on $1 million bail.

The Illinois Department of Human Services, which oversees the Elgin Mental Health Center, continues to investigate how Vega was able to escape.

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