A man charged with killing his mother and grandmother might have been in jail if police had known he had been released from a mental health hold, records and interviews show.
Tyler Withrow, 30, was arrested for the murders that happened on Aug. 13 in Kirk in northeastern Colorado. Two weeks before the murders, Withrow was under mental health surveillance at the request of Aurora Police, police said.
Neighbors and police records show Withrow went on a rampage at his town home complex in the 2500 block of Victor Street in Aurora.
Police reports show he broke car windows, possibly with a golf club, and threw a rock through a neighboring home's window. Police said when officers arrived, they followed a trail of blood to find Withrow naked, and when he disobeyed commands, they used a Taser weapon on him multiple times before putting handcuffs on him.
Fearing for his safety, police took him to the Medical Center of Aurora, placing him on a medical center hold for 72 hours.
"It allows us to put someone on hold or put someone on hold when we come across someone who's showing the behavior he was that day," said Aurora police Officer Frank Fania
Fania said the department didn't arrest Withrow at the time because it was only a property crime, and no person, other than Withrow, was injured in the July 27 incident.
But Fania says the hospital never told police Withrow was being released from the medical hold because to do so would violate federal law.
"They don't follow up because once we turn him over to the hospital, we can't get information because of HIPAA laws," said Fania, referring to the privacy laws included in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Center of Aurora said if a person isn't in police custody, officers aren't be able to get specific medical information on that person. But the hospital would have told police Withrow was released if an officer had called.
If a suspect is in police custody, the hospital will call police once the suspect is ready to be released, the spokeswoman said.
When Aurora police officers requested an arrest warrant for Withrow, he was already in custody in Yuma County, charged with the murders, records show.
Fania said almost every detective in Aurora police is working the theater shooting case from July 20, and Withrow's burglary case wasn't a high priority since it was only a property crime.
"Even if we would have arrested him, chances of him being in jail under that crime [for longer than] a day or two would have been slim because of the low bond," Fania said.
The murders Withrow is accused of happened more than two weeks after his initial arrest.
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