Juneau woman escapes police custody while in hospital

Chrystal Rose Phillips, 28

Chrystal Rose Phillips, 28

After claiming to have swallowed drugs during an arrest, a Juneau woman evaded custody by escaping the hospital when police weren’t looking. Now, the police have released a photo of 28-year-old Chrystal Rose Phillips and want the public’s help in finding her.

On Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m., Juneau police located and arrested two people on outstanding warrants — Phillips and 32-year-old Brandon Ross Stephens, both of Juneau.

Juneau Police Department Lt. Kris Sell said police found them together in the 9900 hundred block of Stephen Richards Memorial Drive.

“Somebody tipped us off that they were there,” Sell said in an interview Monday.

Stephens had seven different warrants out for his arrest from 2015 and 2016 cases, including a $5,000 warrant for failure to appear for arraignment and several warrants for larceny, Sell said.

Phillips’ had a warrant for promoting contraband, which Sell said was an Alaska State Troopers case.

“I’m not familiar with the case so I don’t have the details, but it generally means they took something into a correctional (center) that’s a prohibited item or tried to do that,” she said.

Both Stephens and Phillips were in police custody and being transported in separate cars.

“Chrystal Phillips had been coughing a bit when we were there and once she was in the car, she said she tried to swallow some drugs and didn’t feel well. The officer detected a lower level of consciousness,” Sell told the Empire.

Police took Phillips to the emergency room at Bartlett Regional Hospital where she was then admitted to the critical care unit.

“She never said what she ingested,” Sell added. “And she vacillated being cooperative and uncooperative. She provided different accounts, she was not giving clear statements about what she had done and sometimes refused to communicate at all.”

JPD officers and a probation officer supervised Phillips for more than 30 hours from Thursday afternoon to Friday night, Sell said.

Sell said Phillips was conscious that whole time and “did not appear to be visibly sick” when Sell saw her a few hours after she was admitted. It was never proven that she had swallowed drugs, but she was never medically cleared to be taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

About 10:30 Friday night, Sell said JPD was getting a lot of phone calls and the officer watching Phillips left the hospital.

“We got a domestic violence call, and sometimes we have to prioritize the resources because like every agency we don’t have unlimited people, so a decision was made that an unfolding risk to someone’s safety was something we had to address over sitting with her at the hospital,” Sell said.

Within 30 minutes of being unsupervised, Phillips left the hospital without telling any hospital staff.

“We spent the weekend looking for her as call load allowed, reaching out to known members of the drug community to see if we could get any information, and we have not found her yet,” Sell said.

Sell said there’s still the outstanding warrant for her arrest and police are filing escape charges.

Police don’t believe Phillips is dangerous. Anyone with information about where Chrystal Phillips is located is encouraged to call the JPD at 586-0600.

• Contact Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com.

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