Patient breaks out of Sanford mental health facility, carjacks man at knifepoint, police say

By: Angela Jacobs

Updated:

SANFORD, Fla. - A 33-year-old man was under arrest and behind bars in Seminole County after breaking out of a secure section of Aspire Behavioral Health in Sanford and allegedly carjacking a man at knifepoint a few blocks away, police said.

The incident happened on Nov. 7 after Christopher Joseph was committed to the facility by his mother-in-law and wife for treatment of mental health issues, investigators said.

Joseph was being housed in a secure area of Aspire, but was able to use his shoulder to break down a solid-core door equipped with hospital-grade locks, police said.

The owner of a pickup truck told investigators he found Joseph sitting in his vehicle at about 4:30 p.m.

Armed with a knife, Joseph allegedly demanded the man hand over his keys, police said.

He was still in the truck when officers arrived at the scene and he was quickly taken into custody, investigators said.

Raw video: Body cam video of carjacking suspect arrest

His mother-in-law and wife were shocked that Joseph was able to break out of Aspire Behavioral Health and are asking how it could have happened without anyone noticing.

“It shouldn’t be that easy for someone to get out in that state,” Joseph’s mother-in-law Soraya Cienfuegos said.

His wife, Sylvanna Cienfuegos, said her husband needs mental health treatment and apologized to the victim and his family for what happened.

“I don’t want anyone to be scared of him,” she said. “He’s not someone to hurt someone.”

His wife and mother-in-law were both adamant that jail was not the place Joseph needs to be.

“He still needs to be healed,” Soraya Cienfuegos said. “There’s internal things happening. Jail is not going to do that.”

Joseph was being held without bond at the Seminole County Jail on a charge of carjacking with a firearm or weapon.

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