Bank suspect attempted similar robbery in 1984

September 15, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Darrell Cornish, the man who held 11 people hostage yesterday at the Bank of Glen Burnie, spent more than seven years in state mental hospitals after a strikingly similar robbery attempt in 1984, court records show.

He was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity after taking a woman hostage at knife point as he robbed the Annapolis Bank and Trust branch at the corner of U.S. Route 50 and Cape St. Claire Road in October 1984.

Mr. Cornish, 26, was released from the Crownsville Hospital Center last June 30 after staff members found he was no longer a danger to himself or others. He was assigned to the Omni

House in Glen Burnie under the condition that he continue outpatient psychiatric treatment, and that he continue taking anti-psychotic medication.

"Since admission to Crownsville Hospital Center, Mr. Cornish has shown gradual improvement in his ability to adjust to social situations and has improved in his cooperativeness," a Crownsville doctor wrote. "Mr. Cornish could function in a 24-hour, structured setting as an out-patient."

His release came seven and half years after he walked into the Cape St. Claire bank branch in the afternoon of Oct. 2, 1984, grabbed a female employee around the neck and held a 5 1/2 -inch knife to her chest.

According to court records, Mr. Cornish told another employee to fill a paper bag with money. He took his hostage and $16,000 in cash to her car, where she struggled free. He was captured and charged with kidnapping, armed robbery and assault.

His mother later told a private psychiatrist that she tried to have her son involuntarily committed to a mental hospital on the morning of that robbery. Mr. Cornish's psychological condition had rapidly deteriorated, she said, and his behavior had become bizarre. He showered numerous times each day, walked into other people's houses and exposed himself to women.

That morning, his mother said, Mr. Cornish cracked 12 raw eggs into a jar and swallowed them. He walked around laughing and grinning for no reason, she said.

He was admitted to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in January 1985 and treated with anti-psychotic drugs for eight months.

In September 1985, doctors at Perkins said his mental condition had improved enough to enable him to stand trial. But an independent psychiatrist, who examined Mr. Cornish at his lawyer's request, found that he was "actively psychotic" and diagnosed him with a combination of schizophrenia and manic depression.

Mr. Cornish told that psychiatrist that he heard voices telling him to rob the bank. He also said that it was his ambition to become a great criminal some day by stealing $20 million from a bank and escaping in a helicopter.

On May 13, 1986, Mr. Cornish was declared not criminally responsible for the robbery. He was transferred to Crownsville in March 1989. According to court records, Mr. Cornish's father had a history of mental illness. His father had been institutionalized at the Eastern Shore State Hospital.

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