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Posted on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 10:03 a.m.

Sheriff's office: Man in police custody left hospital, immediately robbed bank

By Kyle Feldscher

A 32-year-old Ypsilanti man is being held on a $50,000 cash bond after being charged with robbing the Chase Bank near St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township Thursday, just after he was released from the hospital.


Joshua Dettlaff

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office


An unmarked police car sits with its flashers on outside of the Chase Bank on the corner of N. Huron River Dr. and McAuley Dr. near St. Joseph Hospital after a robbery occurred there Thursday.

Angela J. Cesere |

Joshua Dettlaff, 32, is charged with one count each of armed robbery, bank robbery and unarmed robbery for allegedly robbing the Chase Bank branch on Huron River Drive on Thursday. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison.

Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Babycz said Dettlaff had been in the custody of the Ypsilanti Police Department and was at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for treatment. Babycz said Dettlaff was released from the hospital and immediately walked to the bank, where he told a teller that he had a gun.

Dettlaff walked out of the bank and was arrested by an officer from the Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety and a sheriff’s office deputy along Hewitt Road, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Derrick Jackson. He was running along Hewitt Road near a bike path in the area of the EMU Convocation Center, Jackson said.

An undisclosed amount of money was recovered from Dettlaff, Jackson said.

During his arraignment in front of Magistrate Colleen Currie, Dettlaff attempted to plead guilty to the robbery before he was informed he could only enter a not guilty plea. He refused to be represented by the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office, despite informing Currie he could not pay for his own lawyer.

Dettlaff has previous convictions for third-degree home invasion and attempted unarmed robbery in Saginaw County and two convictions for stealing a financial transaction device in Eaton County, according to state records.

Detective Sgt. Troy Fulton, of the Ypsilanti Police Department, was not immediately available Friday to speak about why Dettlaff was in Ypsilanti police custody.

He is scheduled to return to court at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 7.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Businesses can legally discriminate against anyone with a felony conviction and refuse to hire them. People with felony convictions can be refused public housing (or evicted, if they move in with a relative and HUD finds out). Many states (don't know about Michigan) refuse any form of food assistance to convicted felons. NOW does anyone wonder why some commit a crime just to go back to prison, where they can get food and shelter and some times some menial job? And we wonder why the recidivism rate is so high?? If we make it impossible for someone to live a life after paying the time (and sometimes money) for their crimes, then we have just taught them that, at least once you're convicted of a crime, continued crime pays. So, they commit a crime such as robbery or drug dealing and can make money for whatever they want, can buy food and can pay rent. If they get caught, they still get food and shelter and, once they're released, can go back to what they know - or something more profitable to 'earn' a living. Our society seems to have lost all sense of direction and common sense. We like to 'take a hard line' on crime, but the manner in which we do so just makes it all the worse. When will enough people see the light to insist on change?


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

This happened Thursday and is still top tier news?


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

The old approach of transporting career criminals to a colony where they could learn to survive in a society made up of others like them, while seemingly rather hard, might be the best solution in cases like this one. If this man is imprisoned, whatever abilities he may have (admittedly probably pretty limited) are wasted, and taxpayers pay to warehouse him, with no real benefit to anyone, including him. If he's left to live on his own in society, he's likely to cost society through further criminal activity, since that's apparently what he knows how to do, and his actions may even result in physical harm to innocent people. There must be some space available somewhere. We wouldn't have to make it a Devil's Island--we could arrange regular airdrops of supplies and provide the inhabitants with the necessary tools. It could result in a better life for them and a safer society for the rest of us--mutual benefits instead of none, or even harm. Just a modest proposal....


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

Sounds like an Elmore Leonard character poaching on Loren Estleman's turf.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

It almost sounds like he wants to be in least he gets 3 meals a day and a roof over his crazy head...


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Someone can be in police custody for reasons other than criminal acts. Neither Kyle nor the rest of us know why Dettlaff was in the hospital. If the Ypsi police took him there for a pysch evaluation, and the psychiatrists didn't see the grounds for an involuntary commitment, the hospital must discharge him. His behavior (robbing a bank on the hospital campus) certainly suggest someone who's not running on all cylinders. . . . And a little googling gets us this, from the June 12, 2011 Saginaw News: "Joshua D. Dettlaff, 31, of 429 S. Fourth was sentenced to one year in jail, with 232 days credit, for violating his probation. Dettlaff was on probation for attempted unarmed robbery and habitual offender-second offense and violated it by failing to report to his probation officer and failing to attend a psychological evaluation."


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Must have been tired of sleeping in a van down by the river!

Mush Room

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Life in prison for what seems to be an unarmed bank robbery. He's 32. If he lives to 92 and with our truth in sentencing law, that's 60 years in Michigan prisons. It will cost at least $35,000 a year to imprison him, so in today's dollars the total cost to Michigan taxpayers will be at least $2,100,000. And he stole how much? Some people like the structured prison life and thrive. There are benefits: free food, housing, clothes, heat, electricity; a measure of health care, recreation and entertainment (TV and and the other inmates); even work, but I think the pay is only 8 cents an hour; also sex, if the criminal favors the same gender. We may be spending $2,100,000+ to give this guy exactly what he was looking for. There's at least a possibility that a con man just conned us for more than $2 million. Absurd? Perhaps, but on the whole, I think our criminal justice system doesn't result in much justice, at least not to those of us who have to pay for it.

Mush Room

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Tesla says, "First of all this myth that people like being locked up like an animal, is due to the fact that people become institutionalized over time. " I think she's right: many of the criminals who thrive in prison are institutionalized and don't know how to function on the outside; prison is a step up for them. They typically have no job skills, no education and no work history since most of their life has been spent in juvenile facilities, jail and prison. Know anyone willing to hire a convicted felon? A drug addict? A sex offender? A drunk? A drug dealer? Starve on the outside or survive on the inside; for some, the smart choice is prison. We basically have just one answer for criminals in Michigan: prison and then more prison. Until we come up with better answers, taxpayers are paying through the nose: over $35,000 per year per prisoner and we're getting poor results for this expenditure. Michigan tax payers pay more for prisons than higher education and is one of only a few states that do this. We spend more on corrections per capita than nearly every other state. We have a higher percentage of our population in prison than most other states. As a taxpayer, I'm not happy about any of this, particularly since other countries, like Canada, have demographics similar to Michigan but 1/7th the prisoners per capita. Something else that's interesting in Michigan. If you look at the breakdown of prisoners by county, it's not the urban counties that have the highest incarceration per capita, it's the rural counties, the lily white counties, counties like Crawford, Otsego, Kalkaska and many others.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

Poor, poor bear,,,,,still ticked off because the Gov cut your should not complain about giving back 20% to help your fellow citizens......I thank you for helping.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Cool you jets there was a simple question


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

blackstallion, you really take the cake with your insinuations. How about this; I've known a lot of people, good people, who AREN'T criminals, but who've been criminalized by an ignorant population that supports avaricious politicians resulting in half-baked plans to 'punish' criminals and then finds ways to populate the new prisons built. You may think that you are slick with your questioning of Tesla in such a manner, but, by the tone of your comments and mushroom up there, whose only worry is that his taxes have to pay for it (lame argument) show yourselves to be a part of that bandwagon, ignorant population that wildly supports anything that promises (and fails) to promote your joy button fixation on taxes and who deserves what. I'm betting that you get more than you deserve out of life, but that you'll crow about how you've earned it and deserve it. Our fatcat CEO's and grafting politicians use the same argument, just as they use you. Ignorance is bliss; enjoy it.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 8:09 p.m. are an expert on all of this because.....??????


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Another arm chair criminal justice professional. First of all this myth that people like being locked up like an animal, is due to the fact that people become institutionalized over time. It amazes me that people think that life in prison is some joy. Sure there are communities and things that go on but it's not free food, lodging, sex, and tv like some of you want to believe. I think anyone who thinks life in prison is some easy deal is watching too much tv or is spoiled. Prison is what it's supposed to be. Punishment. If you don't think it's punishment enough. Try it some time. Or better yet. Offer some alternatives.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

This reads like bad fiction. If someone were to tell me this story I would not believe them. Someone in police custody is receiving medical care at a hospital, and then gets "released" only to rob a bank?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Dayum. That's some ambition right there. Kids a real go getter.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I woulda ran and hid in the bushes like a little girl. This guy goes and robs a bank. lol

Fat Bill

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

Ypsilanti has no cops to spare for babysitting duty... if he was in custody for a non-violent offense, they likely had to prioritize how they use their cops. Obviously, now that he has (alledgedly) committed a violent felony and escaped, this guy will not be out on his own again. Same thing goes for the paperhanger mentioned by the previous poster, add escape risk to the equation, and the rules for that inmate change. Think about work-release, serving time on weekends, etc.

Jeff Gaynor

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Perhaps he had no place to go, and was looking to get back in police custody, or needed bus fare, or something. That he refused a lawyer indicates he's not doing well - not able to care for himself - more so than he's dangerous. (He didn't show a weapon, tho' he said he had one; hence both the armed and unarmed robbery charges.)


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

Many times when police officers take individuals to the hospital they are released from custody for treatment. Now obviously if they area a violent offender (robbery, home invasion, rape, murder) they will remain in custody and officers will remain with the subject and the individual will remain handcuffed etc... However for misdemeanor offenses and other crimes a police department will release the subject so that they may receive proper medical treatment especially in cases involving mental health issues. Before we start blaming any police department we may want to find out just why he was in custody. Police often take people into protective custody in order to transport them to the hospital for pscyhological exams.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

It's truly terrifying to see the level of ignorance on display in some of these posts. Sallyxyz, what does his criminal history have to do with anything? Now anyone who's every been convicted of a crime should have a 24 hr. police escort? That's what your post is saying. For all anybody knows, YPD only contacted him because he was drunk or causing a disturbance someplace. It's not even known at this time if he was being charged with anything, or of the police just transported him to the hospital as a courtesy. Also, where exactly does the law allow for police supervison of the medical treatment of people, simply because they have a criminal record?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Glad to see we can agree on something Sally.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

Dettlaff has previous convictions for third-degree home invasion and attempted unarmed robbery in Saginaw County and two convictions for stealing a financial transaction device in Eaton County, according to state records. Not all of these are misdemeanors, if any. He was a career criminal and should not have been "released" for treatment without police supervision.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

This is not the first time a local law enforcement agency allowed someone in their custody to escape from the hospital. It wasn't reported, but a woman who was uttering and publishing fraudulant checks escaped from the hospital about two years ago. The bank she was caught at was located in Van Buren Township.


Mon, Jan 30, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

It's my understanding from other sources, and from what the text of the article says, that the man was NOT in custody at the hospital, in contradiction of the obviously incorrect headline. He was released to the hospital, not under arrest at the time. The man then left the hospital. The article also says a couple different places that he was "released" by the hospital, something that could not have happened if he was in police custody.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Ypsi/Veteran...Plus he "had" been in custody up until the point he escaped. Thus, after he escaped he was no longer in custody. I hope this helps you better understand the article.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

Ypsi/Vereran...not that I trust the depth of the reporting by Read the headline - Man In Police Custody Left Hospital, Immediately Robbed Bank. I'm am very pro law enforcement, the police are the good guys in my eyes. I was just raising awareness that this has happened before. And maybe this happens more than we know. I don't blame the police they have limited resources and they can everywhere all the time. If he was in custody and was to still remain in custody after his hospital treatment, you would think there would be better communication between the hospital and the policing agency.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

He wasn't in custody of any police department. Read the article. He HAD been in custody, and was released to the hospital. If throwing around blame is what people are interested in, especially before any details whatsoever are available, what about the medical personnel who let an obviously disturbed individual walk out the door?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

All joking asdie, I am glad he was caught and that the employees of the bank are OK. Working for a bank I can say robberies are never good.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Desperate to pay the hospital bill I guess.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

This guy is trouble!! Great job EMU Public Safety and the WCSD! Maybe we should have metal detectors as one enters the bank doors. To many tellers do not have safety glass between them and the customer. On-line banking is good for me, then I don't go to the ATM alone. (never after dark) I don't care if I never know WHY Dettlaff was in Police custody. Was Dettlaff really released or did he just walk out? Certainly not the first time I have heard of walk-outs, in custody or not.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Question..........What was he in the hospital for? Had he already committed a different crime?


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

I don't think they can release that information. HIPAA violation. Only if the dude signs off on it.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Thank You Kyle

Kyle Feldscher

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Stallion- I was wondering myself and never heard back from the Ypsilanti police. I will attempt to find out more next week.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

Far too often police bring people in custody to the hospital to be treated and leave, wonder if this was the case. Maybe they need to start staying with the person while they are being treated, instead of dropping them off.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

I think the authorities better keep a good watch on this guy, if found guilty he should never get out of prison.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Glad someone from the EMU Public Safety and the Sheriff's Dept is on the ball. How was this guy just able to waltz out of the hospital if he was in the custody of the Ypsilanti Police dept.? I could ask a whole lot of questions but this post would go on forever and I think everyone else who reads this article are going to ask the same questions. Looking at the record reported in the article he seems to be a career criminal and shouldn't have been out of an officers sight. But that's just an opinion not a judgement.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

If you want to have officers personally assigned to criminals who are just drunk or contacted for some other misdemeanor, then YPD needs you to vote for the income tax, so they can go back to the 50+ offices they used to have, instead of the 27 or so they have now.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

The hospital stay was THAT expensive?


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 8:42 a.m.

Yes, quite possibly. My husband was just overnight recently after a surgery that is not usually complicated and the bill is close to $30,000. Our insurance should cover it all, but what if we had no insurance?

Jeff Gaynor

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Likely so - there are illegal hold-ups, and legal ones. :)