Cops capture tattoo-faced prisoner who escaped from South Florida psychiatric hospital

Pembroke Pines police

Update: John Ireland, 33, is back in custody, as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Broward sheriff’s deputies arrested him in Oakland Park after a citizen recognized his image from the news and contacted police, according to the Pembroke Pines Police Department. Ireland will be charged with escaping from a mental health hospital.


Original report:

A man who has several facial tattoos, including one that appears to be the word death, escaped from the South Florida State Hospital Wednesday night, Pembroke Pines police said.

The department took to social media, sharing a photo of the “escaped prisoner,” 33-year-old John Ireland. Ireland is described as 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 200 pounds.

Police responded to the state mental hospital at 800 E. Cypress Drive in Pembroke Pines at around 6:45 p.m. Ireland, who police say was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has a history of violent behavior, escaped by climbing a fence around 4 p.m.

A search for Ireland, who was last seen in a black shirt and black pants, turned up empty.

Court records show that Ireland was arrested on charges of robbery with a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, cocaine possession, battery and drug paraphernalia possession in October 2017.

Police say Ireland stole an $11.99 can of Enfamil from a convenience store and then pulled a razor on the clerk, when the clerk confronted him. He was in and out of jail, records show, several times.

In July 2019, a judge ruled that Ireland was “incompetent to proceed” and was put in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families. According to the order, Ireland was to be placed in a mental health facility.

“DO NOT approach him if you see him,” the department said. “Call 911 immediately.”

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.