PORTAGE | A teen mother was taken into custody on child neglect and other charges after police spotted her panhandling Monday afternoon with her baby.
And the man with her, who was arrested, led police on a brief manhunt after escaping Tuesday morning from Porter Regional Hospital.
Portage police were called about 12:30 p.m. to Central Avenue at Irving Street regarding the teen who had been warned earlier by police to leave the area. The girl told police she was homeless because she could not live with her mother because "she's too controlling and I can't take it," according to police.
The girl, who was with Ryan Ericson, 23, of Michigan City, said the van they had been driving belonged to her mother, whom she said gave them permission to use.
As the girl spoke to police, an officer noted the baby was wearing only a diaper and no clothes, while the mother wore long pants and a hooded sweatshirt. Police said the temperature at the time was 64 degrees.
Police checked Ericson for weapons, but found him with a hypodermic needle, Suboxone and marijuana.
Police learned the van the pair had been driving was reported stolen in LaPorte by the girl's mother. A search of the van turned up a glass smoking pipe with marijuana residue inside.
Child Protective Services was called to take the infant, since Ericson and the girl were being taken into custody.
Ericson was initially charged with maintaining a common nuisance, possession of a hypodermic needle, auto theft, possession of a controlled substance in the presence of a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
The girl was taken to the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center. She faces charges of neglect of a dependent, auto theft, possession of paraphernalia, visiting a common nuisance and possession of marijuana.
The van was returned to the girl's mother.
Ericson on Tuesday became the target of a short manhunt after he escaped from custody at Porter Regional Hospital. Police said Ericson was in the ICU at Porter Regional Hospital for an unknown reason and, about 9 a.m. Tuesday, he fled the area.
Hospital security officers told police he fled north from the hospital in his orange jail sweatpants and orange shoes. Porter County police, along with officers from Chesterton and Valparaiso, swarmed the wooded area north of U.S. 6 and west of Ind. 49.
Police said Ericson ran across Ind. 49 about one mile north of U.S. 6. A Valparaiso police K9 tracked him to a wooded area, where he surrendered. He was taken back to the hospital, where two Porter County police officers remained to guard him.