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story.lead_photo.caption From left, Michelle Messer and Cory Kristopher Chapin

A day after a State Hospital staff member and a mentally ill patient inexplicably left the facility together, their whereabouts were unknown and both were fugitives from the law Wednesday evening.

Michelle Marie Messer, 41,* a psychological examiner at the mental institution, is wanted on a misdemeanor charge of aiding an unauthorized departure.

Messer has worked for the Department of Human Services, which operates the State Hospital, for more than nine years and earns $50,222, state records show.

Hospital Police Chief Perry Wyse swore out an arrest warrant for her Wednesday afternoon. Wyse did not return a phone message and an email requesting more information.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chip Welch issued an order Tuesday afternoon for the arrest of patient Cory Kristopher Chapin in response to Department of Human Services officials' report of Chapin's escape.

Authorities say security camera footage shows Messer using her access to the hospital's forensic unit to walk out with Chapin, 46. The State Hospital is near South Palm and West Markham streets in Little Rock, next to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The nature of the relationship between Chapin and Messer was not clear. A review of their Facebook pages shows that her account was used to post comments on his page two months ago.

Chapin, formerly of Eureka Springs, has been the responsibility of the Human Services Department since December of 2015. He was ordered into the State Hospital's care after a Carroll County circuit court acquitted him on charges of attempted kidnapping and theft by reason of insanity or mental deficit.

Reportedly, he had taken his father's car without permission. After Carroll County law enforcement officers found him with the vehicle at a city park, they discovered in the vehicle handcuffs, machetes and a plastic pistol that had been painted black.

Chapin told officers that they had just stopped a kidnapping. He had been on his way to abduct a Eureka Springs hairdresser, have sex with her, get her to listen to his story, then let her go, he said.

God had told him to abduct her, he told detectives, according to an account of his arrest in the Carroll County News.

Chapin told police that he read the Bible and the dictionary, and he "received signs from every first, seventh and 16th word," the newspaper reported.

Court records show that Chapin also told police that he moved to Arkansas in October 2013 and that the woman had cut his hair twice since then.

He was initially held in the State Hospital, but was transferred about a week later to a private facility in Corning after a finding by his psychiatrist that he was not a danger to himself or others, court records show.

Chapin was not allowed to leave the grounds of the MidSouth Health System facility unless he had permission. He absconded from treatment after two months when he was released on a weekend pass to spend the Feb. 5, 2016, weekend with his father in Jonesboro.

Court records show Chapin left the state and was at large for 18 months before authorities had any idea where he was.

Authorities received an anonymous tip on July 27, 2017, that he was in Las Vegas, but it was another 2½ months before police there arrested him on Oct. 13. He was returned to the State Hospital on Nov. 2.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Chapin's father, 72-year-old Charles Chapin of Eureka Springs, declined to comment.

A man at Messer's Sherwood home refused to let Messer's partner, Judith Lewis, speak to a reporter. Property records show that the women bought the 1,918-square-foot residence in the East Meadow addition for $137,000 in August 2012.

Tax and property records show that Messer operates a mental health therapy and behavioral support program out of a Jacksonville office called Arkansas Creative Behavioral Therapy, which she incorporated in 2015. The business phone number has a Florida area code.

On the company website, Messer states that she got her master's degree in clinical psychology in Georgia in 2002 while working at a family counseling program in the state.

Messer has been trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and has 13 years of experience providing treatment to intellectually disabled clients with psychiatric disorders.

Her website, www.arkcbt.com, features a logo that she describes as her interpretation of "the elephant and its lifelong connections built with love from the heart."

"I have modeled my practice and services after such a worthwhile mission. I am helping families connect in health ways and through loving hearts. Let me help you and your family begin more positive living and better functioning. I will assist you as you increase your successes in building resilient, healthier connections."

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Metro on 03/22/2018

*CORRECTION: Michelle Marie Messer is the missing Arkansas State Hospital employee who is wanted on a misdemeanor charge of aiding an authorized departure after leaving the hospital with patient Cory Kristopher Chapin. A previous version of this article listed an incorrect first name.

Print Headline: Officers hunting patient, therapist; Both walked out of State Hospital

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