ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - Authorities continue the hunt for an escapee from a Madison mental health facility with ties to Brown County.
30-year-old Graham Stowe broke free from the Mendota Mental Health Institute Tuesday afternoon.
Brown County Sheriff's say Stowe has a lengthy, violent criminal history.
His record includes a 2004 incident with his ex-girlfriend. Court documents show Stowe broke into Amanda Boeder's house. He tied up her brother and father, and threatened to set her father on fire.
Stowe was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. A judge sent him to a state mental health facility. He was released in 2007, but sent back in 2009.
Authorities believe Stowe may be in the Brown County area because of family ties, including his wife. FOX 11 spoke with her Friday. She says Stowe hasn't contacted her, and she has no idea where he might be.
Madison police say Graham Stowe was last seen leaving a minimum security area at Mendota.
“He was in a particular type of confinement which allowed for him to have some privileges, and I think part of the investigation is to figure out whether or not that lent an opportunity for him to leave the facility,” Howard Payne, Madison Police Department spokesman, told FOX 11.
Police say Stowe apparently climbed a fence and ran off into the woods, possibly armed with a golf club.
“No matter where you might be at that particular facility, woods are extremely close, or close proximity to you, so with the thick foliage and lots of trees in the area, Stowe was able to be out of sight real quick,” said Payne.
Stowe's wife Nicole, who doesn't want to reveal her last name, says she hasn't heard from him and doubts she will.
“I think Green Bay would be the absolute last place he would come. He wouldn't want to put us in a position where we would have to lie or anything, he wouldn't want to put us in that position,” said Nicole in a phone interview.
Nicole says her husband was trusted by staff at the facility, and had a number of privileges which allowed him to leave the center.
“He volunteers every Friday at a food pantry by himself, he rides his bike, he goes to the library three times a week by himself. Every time I'm down there we go on a day pass by ourselves,” said Nicole.
Nicole says she last talked with her husband the day before he escaped. She adds there was an issue which could have meant moving him to a more secure unit, a setback as the couple prepared to petition for Stowe's release later this month.
Nicole says after talking with Mendota staff she believes that may be why he left the facility.
“Basically, security had come over to get him, that he was out in the yard hitting golf balls, and they think that he knew and that he left, he knew,” said Nicole.
Department of Health Services officials would only say the center's procedures and exactly what happened on Tuesday are under review.
As the search continues, authorities warn people that Stowe has the potential to be dangerous. His wife disagrees.
“He made a very big mistake 10 years ago, he did, and he'd be the first to tell you that. He has been sorry for that event since the day it happened. He is not a dangerous person,” said Nicole.
Graham Stowe was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jean shorts. He's 5’8”, 165 pounds.
Anyone who sees Stowe is asked to call 911 immediately.
If you have information about where he may be, you are asked to call the Brown County Sheriff's Office at (920) 448-4230.