Cops Re-Arrest Murder Suspect Mental Hospital Let Free 18 Years Ago | NBC Connecticut

Cops Re-Arrest Murder Suspect Mental Hospital Let Free 18 Years Ago

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    Man charged with murder has been living as a free man for the last 18 years.

    Pedro Custodio was charged with murder in Waterbury 1991 and had been living as a free man for the last 18 years after a mental hospital released him. But on Monday, he was re-arrested, according to the Hartford Courant.

    Custodio, now 76, was charged the 1991 murder of his neighbor outside Enterprise Place Apartments and was found not competent to stand trail and admitted to Fairfield Hills mental hospital in 1992, .the Waterbury Republican-American reports.

    Custodio was supposed to be in a mental hospital since 1992, but court officials learned last week that he was not there and the reasons he was released are still unclear, the newspaper reports.

    Custodio's nephew, Jose Rivera, remembers going to Fairfield Hills to pick him up in 1992. Rivera's father, who died in 2001, had arranged for an apartment for Custodio and for his release, "as long as he took his meds and had nurses' aides check on him. 

    Rivera says Custodio cannot read or write and has the mentality of a 6 or 7 year old.

    Senior Assistant State's Attorney Eva Longeski told the Republican-American that court officials were never notified of his release.

    The hospital closed three years later and most of its patients were transferred to Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. Officials at Connecticut Valley said they have no records of Custodio being a patient there.

    Police found him on Monday in a Prospect Street residence, where he had been living for several years, the Courant reports.

    Neighbors at Prospect Towers said they were shocked to see police take Custodio away on Monday.

    "I know him as the quart of juice guy," Peter Gonzalez said. "He'd drink his juice and smoke a cigar."

    Others say he was a calm man.

    "His demeanor toward you was not aggressive," Gonzalez said, calling his neighbor "a beautiful person."

    Capt. Chris Corbett said that as far as police are concerned, "He went unnoticed" for 19 years.

    A spokesman for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said he couldn't comment on specific patients, but told the Republican-American that if a patient couldn't be restored to the point where he or she could stand trial, a probate judge could decide to commit them. After that, the patient would be treated as a non-criminal and could earn a full release.

    Longeski told the Republican-American on Monday that authorities had found a man named Pedro Custodio who lists his address as Prospect Street in Waterbury and has a birth date that differs by only a month from the Pedro Custodio now wanted by police.

    The re-arrest order was issued on July 26.