Questions surround Becker release notification - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Questions surround Becker release notification


WATERLOO (KWWL) -  As funeral arrangements are announced for murdered Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas, accusations are flying over the circumstances surrounding his alleged killer's hospital release the day before the murder.

Mark Becker was arrested early Sunday morning by Butler County Sheriff's deputies following a high speed chase originating in Cedar Falls.

After Becker's arrest, a judge ordered an emergency psychiatric evaluation, which was held at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo.

Butler County Sheriff Jason Johnson says when Becker was taken to Covenant Medical Center, his office requested notification before Becker was released from the hospital.

Johnson contacted the Butler County Central Point Coordinator of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and asked to be contacted if Becker was released from the hospital.

That notification was never made but it may be the way the question was asked that prevented that notification from being made.

There's no question Mark Becker was committed for an emergency psychiatric evaluation at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo Sunday morning.

He stayed there just more than 48 hours before his release Tuesday.

Following an evaluation, typically, a doctor makes one of three recommendations:

the patient does not require treatment, the patient needs outpatient treatment or the patient is a danger to himself or others and should stay in inpatient care.

In this case, Becker wasn't deemed a danger.

The Butler County Sheriff and Cedar Falls Police wanted to be notified of a release.

The sheriff says his office "requested prior notification before Becker was released" and that the Central Point Coordinator of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities was aware of the evaluation and "should contact the sheriff if Becker was going to be released from the hospital."

A Covenant Medical Center spokesman says in a statement in part "...had the record indicated a request to contact law enforcement at the time of discharge, we would have honored the request by making the notification. Our review shows no evidence of this request, so notification was not made..."

Covenant says Becker was discharged to a third party.

His family says it wasn't them.

So what happened?

Who's telling the truth about notification?

No-one's telling us but federal patient privacy laws indicate information can be disclosed to law enforcement if it is "required by law (including court orders, court-ordered warrants, subpoenas) and administrative requests."

So it could be as simple as the request wasn't in writing or wasn't noted correctly.

Either way, authorities say even if notification was made, that may not have prevented what happened.

On Friday, the central point coordinator, Bob Lincoln, says such a request is outside the scope of his duties. He declined further comment.

Authorities transferred Becker to the Cerro Gordo County jail for safety reasons.

We're told the Cerro Gordo County Public Defender's office is representing him.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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