Violent Calif. offender prompts manhunt within hours of being freed early from prison

Ike Nicholas Souzer, who was taken back into custody Sunday, was released over objections from his family and the DA's office


By Paige St. John
Los Angeles Times
        
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — An Orange County man released from prison five years after stabbing his mother to death is again the subject of a police hunt.

Ike Nicholas Souzer, 18, removed his electronic monitoring bracelet Wednesday within hours of being moved to a Santa Ana halfway house, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office said. Souzer had been released that day from the maximum security Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, 15 months early.

"I told the DA's office, with that ankle bracelet, he's not going to make it through the day," Eleanor Watson, Souzer's grandmother, who was notified of his impending release, said in an interview with The Times on Saturday. "I am thinking to myself, I hope that ankle bracelet is made of steel.

Souzer faced additional felony charges in December tied to attacks in August 2021 on three correctional officers.
Souzer faced additional felony charges in December tied to attacks in August 2021 on three correctional officers. (Orange County District Attorney's Office)

"He cut the one off to kill his mother, for crying out loud. What's going on with the courts down here?"

Souzer was 13 when he killed his mother, Barbara Scheuer-Souzer, 48, outside their home in Garden Grove, stabbing her two times in the stomach. At the time of the 2017 killing, he was on home detention with a history of running away, and was described by a family member as autistic and volatile. His public defense lawyer claimed Souzer had been abused by his mother, an allegation Watson maintains was false.

Over the objection of prosecutors, who had pressed murder charges, Souzer in 2019 was convicted in juvenile court of manslaughter.

"Yes, he is autistic," Watson said, "however, he is very conniving and he is very dangerous... he has no conscience." She said she was told a judge decided to release him early "to give him a chance, but you don't give a chance to a person who has this personality type and has already murdered."

Souzer's sentence was initially set to be completed in July 2023, but he was released early, with orders to remain under electronic monitoring. The Orange County probation office alerted other police agencies of Souzer's disappearance, but the district attorney's office elevated that to a public warning "because we were so concerned about this case," said spokeswoman Kimberly Edds.

The prosecutor's office described Souzer as an "extremely dangerous and violent criminal."

While in custody, Souzer faced additional felony charges in December tied to attacks in August 2021 on three correctional officers. Those counts were reduced to misdemeanors and Souzer was given credit for the time he had already spent behind bars.

Souzer, who is described as 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, has a prior history of escape. While awaiting trial in 2019, he found his way to a rooftop at the Orange County Juvenile Hall, vaulted a high perimeter fence, and was picked up without incident by police later that day at a McDonald's.

Watson, meanwhile, remained conflicted.

"I mean, he's my grandson. I lost him and my daughter at the same time," she said. "My heart hearkens back to the time when we had such a warm, loving relationship and we played games and we laughed so hard I cried. I remember that and I love that boy that was there, and he's gone now."


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