A man accused of attacking his girlfriend at Six Flags Great America, beating her so severely he fractured her skull, escaped from a mental health center Wednesday but was recaptured later in the day thanks to the efforts of a sharp-eyed cabbie.
Jesse Vega, 33, of Chicago, bolted from a stopped vehicle around 8 a.m. in Elgin as he was being driven from the Elgin Mental Health Center to a Lake County courthouse.
"He was handcuffed in the front seat when he escaped EMHC custody," Elgin Police Cmdr. Ana Lalley told the Daily Herald.
A massive manhunt ensued, with schools and other buildings throughout Elgin going on lockdown as heavily armed police and dogs combed the streets on a hunt for Vega.
A taxi driver picked up a fare in downtown Elgin and recognized his passenger as Vega, reports NBC Chicago newsman Charlie Wojciechowski.
The cabbie circled the block a few times to keep his passenger in the area until he saw a police car and turned Vega over, according to NBC.
Elgin residents shared news about Vega and the search on social media throughout the day — the police department's Facebook post alone was shared almost 100,000 times, which prompted a YouTube thank you from Elgin's police chief.
On Sept. 29, 2013, Vega attacked his girlfriend in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, according to authorities. The woman survived the vicious beating but her skull was fractured. She was placed into a medically induced coma due to the swelling in her brain.
Gurnee Police apprehended Vega, who was charged in Lake County 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, as well as obstruction of justice and aggravated driving under influence while on a suspended or revoked license.He was found unfit for trial in April was being observed at the Elgin Mental Health Center. He was due in court Wednesday for reconsideration of his mental fitness.