Sunday, January 3, 2010

A very tragic, very common occurrence: all over the news

It's true that I am looking for these stories. However, it's hard not to notice how many there have been in the news recently of horrible crimes being committed by people with serious, but untreated mental illness.

Here is a sampling from today's papers:

The New York Daily News gives the details of a tragic murder of a child:
Alejandro Morales, 25, was taken to Bellevue Hospital just hours after he allegedly plunged a knife into the chest of Anthony Maldonado while they played a Playstation skateboarding game. Morales's relatives told detectives that he has a history of mental illness, according to police sources, while his neighbors in Morningside Heights' Grant Houses claimed his behavior has been erratic for years. "He was kind of [crazy]," said a neighbor too afraid to give her name. "He was sick in the head."

The Palm Beach Post reports that Paul Merhige, the man with untreated mental illness who murdered four members of his family on Thanksgiving Day, was caught hiding out in a motel in Long Key, Fla:
Paul Michael Merhige's grudge against his family was that they did not do enough to take care of him, a point that the mentally troubled man argued with them constantly before police say he executed his twin sisters and two other relatives on Thanksgiving Day, Merhige's father told police.

In an arrest report released today as Merhige made his first court appearance, his father, Michael Merhige, told police that the 35-year-old man had recently stopped taking medications and had once shot himself in the chest years earlier in an attempt to kill himself.

CTV in Ottawa, Ont. reports on the murder of a police constable:
Const. Eric Czapnik was fatally stabbed on Tuesday when he was working near the Ottawa Hospital Civic campus. Kevin Gregson, a suspended RCMP officer with a history of mental illness, is charged with first-degree murder in relation to Czapnik's death. ... Becoming a police officer was a lifelong dream for the 51-year-old father of four, who left managing a furniture store three years ago to wear the uniform at an age when most officers contemplate retirement.

An editorial in today's Austin American-Statesman argues that not treating the seriously mentally ill before they get into trouble is bad policy:
Texas has about 155,000 state prisoners. Almost 44,000 have a history of mental illness. ... We are not getting a sufficient return on our criminal justice dollars because we do not make sufficient investment in other areas, including mental health treatment and public education.

"We have a very poor mental health system," Senate Criminal Justice Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, said. "The criminal justice system largely has become the state's mental health system."

A mentally ill man, who likely should have been treated in a mental hospital, brutally murdered his daughter in Greenwich, Conn., according to this report from the Greenwich Time:
A landscaper charged in the brutal slaying of his daughter appeared in state Superior Court in Stamford Monday where he was assigned a public defender and transferred to a state prison facility. Adam Dobrzanski, 55, of 100 Sterling Road, appeared sullen and dazed as he stood before Judge William Wenzel with several court marshals.

Police believe Dobrzanski slit his daughter's throat before attempting to kill himself in a murder-suicide plot Wednesday night at the backcountry estate owned by hedge fund executive S. Donald Sussman.

After being given a code to the Sterling Road home, police found Dobrzanski in a bedroom with multiple cuts on his body and one on his throat. Police said there was blood all over the floor and furniture. Dobrzanski told officers at the scene he tried to jump out a window and set himself on fire before stabbing himself. He was treated and released from Stamford Hospital.

While police questioned him at the scene, Dobrzanski mentioned something about his daughter, leading police to sweep the mansion until they found Amanda Dobrzanski with a large cut to her neck. She was dead at the scene, police said.

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