Friday, March 03, 2006


TAC Newsletter 2/24/06


Visit our web site
February 24, 2006


1. HEALING THE MIND, PAYING THE PRICE - South Bend Tribune, February 20, 2006

2. FAMILY SAYS SUSPECT IS MENTALLY ILL - Grass Valley Union, January 31, 2006

28, 2006

Dispatch, July 27, 2003

16, 2006


1. SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE (IN), February 20, 2006

[Editor’s Note: The Treatment Advocacy Center speaks for the need to reform
treatment laws, of prizing hospitals over prisons, care over punishment. Yet
before considering what should be done for the welfare of those lost to severe
mental illnesses, one must appreciate how profoundly the symptoms of these
illnesses can compromise, and in many cases determine, a person’s actions. Only
in assessing the gravity of the sickness, can we evaluate the worth of its

Consider the actions of Nicholas Rice.]


Out of sight: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

By Alicia Gallegos, Tribune Staff Writer

Second of six parts

When Rick Rice picked up his newspaper the morning of March 6, 2003, he
remembers doing a double take.

On the second page was a surveillance shot of a young man who looked like his
son under the headline "Man tries to rob bank in Nappanee."

Nicholas had talked about robbing a bank before, but nobody ever thought he was

Rick grabbed for the phone and dialed his ex-wife's number. Her husband, Louie
Waldrop, answered the phone.

"Do you know where Nicholas is at?" Rick asked him.

He's in jail, Louie told him, for stealing a car in Michigan.

* * *

The attempted robbery at the Nappanee KeyBank branch was the first ever in the
town's history. The crime made headlines and was broadcast on local TV stations.

After announcing to a teller that he had a bomb, the would-be robber
inexplicably turned around and left the bank without any money.

"We've had robberies but not at banks," Nappanee Police Chief Mike Anglin told a
reporter. "Hopefully we'll get this guy locked down pretty quickly."

* * *

Neil Vernasco was driving to work in his wife's car when he spotted a Taurus
that looked exactly like his car, which had gone missing just that morning.

Vernasco made a U-turn and followed the vehicle as it turned into his trailer
park and proceeded to the same lot from which it had been taken.

Pulling behind it, Vernasco jumped out and grabbed the driver, 20-year-old
Nicholas Rice. The angry owner dragged him to a neighbor's home and yelled for
someone to call 911. The young man seemed dazed, Vernasco remembers, and kept
trying to explain he had just borrowed the car.

Officers grilled Nicholas about where he'd gone in the vehicle, but he was vague
with his answers, telling them he'd driven to a nearby grocery store and run
some errands.

An officer later wrote that Nicholas appeared "disconnected to the conversation"
during some of the questioning: "At this point in time, reporting officer did
not feel comfortable with continuing the interrogation."

* * *

Nicholas spent close to two months at the Berrien County Jail, until he was sent
to Lakeland Hospital for a psychological evaluation.

He had stopped eating while in the jail and was refusing treatment. He would
barely talk when his mother, Diane Waldrop, went to see him.

She had long worried about her oldest son.

As a child, Nicholas was a playful little boy, always romping around outside,
fishing and biking with his younger brother, Ricky.

Diane and Rick divorced in 1989 when Nicholas was 6 and Ricky was 3, and the
children were raised primarily by Diane. Nicholas had a paper route in his teens
and loved building miniature planes.

But when he was in high school, Nicholas came to her one day and said, "Mom,
there's something wrong with me."

Before that moment, Diane had assumed her son's moody behavior and quiet ways
were a result of adolescence. He was 17 then, after all.

She took him to their family doctor, where he was treated for depression, and
then to a psychiatrist. The doctor told Diane her son had pre-symptoms of

The word itself was terrifying. Diane wanted to believe her son was normal.

The doctor prescribed a few medications, but Nicholas didn't take them
consistently and stopped seeing that doctor altogether when he was no longer
covered by his parents' insurance.

* * *

In late April, Nappanee police received word that a Michigan man named Nicholas
D. Rice might be their suspect and was being held at a hospital on a court

Officers arrived to question the man May 1, encountering a seemingly confused
suspect who would barely respond. As officers showed him the KeyBank
surveillance photos, Nicholas continued to stare at them, saying nothing.

As the questioning continued, police began to feel uncomfortable with Nicholas'
mental state and started asking yes or no questions.

"Are you familiar with Nappanee?"


"Were you there March 5?"

Nicholas mumbled, finally answering, "Yes."

The interrogation ended shortly after.

"At this point in the interview I felt that Mr. Rice's mental status was greatly
altered and did not feel comfortable with questioning Mr. Rice in further detail
regarding the bank robbery," the officer reported.

* * *

The test at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ann Arbor found that Nicholas
had signs of a psychotic thought disorder.

A psychologist noted he had "distractible tendencies" and his responses to
questions were often irrelevant.

Nicholas told the psychologist that medication helped because, "If too many
thoughts distract you, your imagination goes in reverse mode like you have two

Along with previous doctors, the evaluation determined Nicholas was suffering
from undifferentiated schizophrenia. He was found incompetent to stand trial on
his auto theft charge and committed to the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital in

* * *

The change in Nicholas once he was on a strict regimen of medication was almost
too good to be true.

Diane and her husband, Louie, would stop by the state hospital weekly to see
Nicholas, playing cards and talking with their son.

"It was the best he was in years," Louie says. "His mind was working again."

On July 17, Nicholas celebrated his 21st birthday at the hospital. His mom
brought a cake, and his dad presented him with a DVD player. His parents were
ecstatic about how well their son was doing.

He was carrying on clear conversations, playing pingpong, even working as a
cleaning man at the facility for an hour every day.

But Nicholas' trip to Nappanee months before was about to catch up with him.


2. GRASS VALLEY UNION (CA), January 31, 2006

[Editor’s Note: Jonathan Rodriguez may go back to prison against the wishes of
his mother and his wife, the person he is accused of harming. Both recognize
that the root of his actions is illness and not intent.]


Grass Valley Man Charged With Inflicting Corporal Injury

A Grass Valley man facing corporal injury charges needs help with a mental
illness, his relatives said Monday.

Jonathan M. Rodriguez, 27, is expected to enter a plea at a hearing at 1 p.m.
Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court. He is charged with inflicting "a
corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition" on his wife, according to
the complaint filed by the District Attorney's office.

But Fiona Drennan said her husband did not beat her. Rather, Rodriguez called
authorities in early January during a verbal argument because he was delusional
and believed his wife was harming him, said his mother, Debbie Rodriguez.

"All they want to do is send him back to prison," said Debbie Rodriguez, 53.
"That's not the answer. He needs to be in a mental health facility until he's in
his right mind. ... He has not quite accepted the fact he has a mental illness."

Jonathan Rodriguez could not be located for comment.

Debbie Rodriguez said her son was diagnosed as having the most severe form of
bipolar disease when he was 15. Court records show he was convicted in a 1990
forgery and theft case, in a 1998 theft case, and in a 2000 case involving
battery and threatening.

He also has had several parole violations, Debbie Rodriguez said. She blamed his
mental illness for his run-ins with the law.

"The area of the disease is in the decision-making part of the brain," Rodriguez
said. "They don't see the consequences of what they are doing."

Jonathan Rodriguez received psychiatric medication while in prison and brought
the pills with him when he was released a year ago, his mother said. He started
a job in Sacramento and moved with the company to Grass Valley, where his wife

He was doing well, but the medication started running out. "He was trying to
stretch it," Debbie Rodriguez said. "He was cutting the tablets in half."

With insurance from his employer, Rodriguez went to a private psychiatrist who
prescribed a new medication, his mother said. The new medication made him feel
so well that he stopped taking it, she said.

"Jon thought he was cured," said Joyce Nedeleff, his mother-in-law.

Then, the voices and delusions returned. "He has no reality. It's a fantasy
world. He thinks everybody's lying," Nedeleff said.

Both Jonathan Rodriguez and Drennan were injured in a car wreck on Colfax
Highway Jan. 20. Drennan remains at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she
is being treated for a compound fracture of the femur, a crushed tibia and
broken wrist, Nedeleff said. Drennan is set to start physical therapy soon.

Rodriguez suffered a dislocated hip, refused further treatment after the hip was
relocated, then was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving. The status of
that charge was not clear.

Now, he has no job and no insurance to pay for psychiatric help, Debbie
Rodriguez said. She does not know where he is.

"His wife doesn't want him to go to prison. She wants him to get help,"
Rodriguez said.


3. NY JOURNAL NEWS, January 28, 2006

[Editor’s Note: Nothing could test the belief that an acute psychiatric
illness, rather than the person affected, can be to blame for bizarre acts more
than when someone with such a disorder takes the life of another. Yet there is
no better candidate to hold firmly to that belief than someone who has herself
been overwhelmed by the symptoms of a severe mental illness.]


By Shawn Cohen, The Journal News

Twice a week, Jane McCarty endures hours of security screenings so she can sit
down, face to face, with an accused killer.

She has been making the trip from Harrison to Rikers Island since early January
to see Richard Keller, a close friend who police say admitted to repeatedly
stabbing his 85-year-old mother in the chest.

While McCarty doesn't condone it, she said she understands Keller's rage and
believes him when he tells her he blacked out that night. She said she saw his
paranoia deepen before the killing and it reminded her of her own emotional
breakdown, which forced her into a psychiatric hospital years ago.

"I feel like I'm reliving my experience through Richie," McCarty, 50, said
during a visit to the Bronx prison last week. "I can really empathize with what
he's going through."

On this day, McCarty drove to New York City in a rainstorm, parked and then took
a bus from Queens across the East River to the first of four checkpoints.

Two hours later, after dropping off a bag of clothes she had grabbed from
Keller's apartment, she made her way through a final metal detector before she
was let into a large meeting room. Moments after that, Keller, wearing orange
prison fatigues, was led in by an armed guard. His long blond hair falling over
his sunken eyes, he gestured excitedly when he saw her.

"I have a lot to tell you," Keller said before sitting across from her at a
plastic table for an hourlong visit. During visits, she said, he has told her he
has no recollection of the Jan. 2 killing of Bernice Keller, saying his last
memory was of seeing her sitting on a chair in the living room of her East Side
apartment. Next thing he remembers, he told her, is opening the door for police
but not knowing why.

Police say he called 911 himself to report, "I stabbed my mother and she is

Keller, 54, was charged with second-degree murder and is being held without
bail. His next court appearance is Feb. 8.

McCarty doesn't question whether he is guilty. She does, however, believe that
mental illness led him to commit the crime.

Her visits to Rikers only reaffirm this impression: He tells her about hearing
voices in his head, talks about being "set up" for the murder and still claims
cameras were spying on him in his apartment, she said.

His lawyer has indicated that he is considering an insanity defense.

If that happens, McCarty could be a key witness. A fellow Harrison resident who
has known Keller for 10 years, she claims to have witnessed his recent collapse.

But now her main goal, she said, is to get him psychiatric care. She also wants
to share his story, and hers, in the hope that other people with emotional
disorders will get help.

McCarty makes no secret that she suffers from bipolar II — a condition marked by
severe depression. She has even written about her condition in local newspaper
editorials, aiming to show the everyday struggles of people with mental illness.

"Every morning I wonder, 'How will I be today?' " she wrote in one piece. "My
day starts out waking up feeling as if I have a hangover, but I wasn't out
drinking the night before. That's on good days. On bad days, I feel like I have
the flu, unable to get out of bed."

She has struggled with severe depression much of her life and contemplated
suicide when she attended Harrison High School in the early 1970s, she said. In
the mid-1990s, at the urging of her psychiatrist, she left her public affairs
job at Consolidated Edison and went on permanent mental disability.

In May 1996 she recalls crying profusely as she drove herself to a hospital,
where she was admitted and later received electric shock therapy.

"I lost my memory for about a year and a half, not knowing the names of people
on the street that I knew for years," she said.

Her mental illness, which she calls an "invisible disease," affects her to this
day. And she says it's probably one of the reasons she has bonded with Keller.

She and other friends said Keller had a sort of dual personality — friendly and
generous, but sometimes combative up close. While working for a Harrison taxi
service, he would often insist on buying lunch and paying co-workers for rides.
At Rikers, he gave some of his clothes to fellow inmates who seemed more needy.

But he had a tough time accepting anything in return, including help on personal

McCarty saw him become increasingly troubled over his living arrangements and
his mother's dementia. He moved into his mother's posh Manhattan condo in
December after learning that he would have to leave his apartment because the
landlord was selling the house.

He began showing signs of paranoia, believing everyone was out to "get him." He
complained that there were cameras spying on him and that the woman who lived
upstairs would constantly flush her toilet to harass him when he was in his
mother's bathroom.

McCarty urged Keller to see a psychiatrist and said the doctor told him to check
into a hospital just days before the killing.

He refused.

"It is sad that in Richie's reality he felt he was being attacked by everyone,"
McCarty said. "The mind can play terrible games with oneself. I pray that Richie
will get the help he so needs and God will have mercy on him."


4. COLUMBUS DISPATCH (OH), July 27, 2003

[Editor’s Note: Approximately 5,000 people with schizophrenia or bipolar
disorder in the U.S. take their own lives each year. About Greg Lindeman’s
death, the Franklin County Coroner stated "there's no indication this was
anything but a suicide.” Yet if a person does not think they are going to die,
is it really suicide? Perhaps in such a case the cause of death should more
appropriately be listed as severe mental illness.]


By Alayna DeMartini, The Columbus Dispatch

In his struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, Greg Lindeman was convinced he was
Jesus Christ.

Lindeman, 45, killed himself Friday, jumping from a seven-story parking garage
at the Ohio State University Medical Center, authorities said.

Family members think his action might have been spurred because of a passage in
the Bible. In it, Jesus is fasting in the desert when Satan challenges him to
jump from a mountain, saying angels would certainly save the son of God.

"More than likely he was confused and thought he wouldn't get hurt," said
Lindeman's brother, Shawn Lindeman, 31. "What we believe, what our family
believes, is that as a result of his illness, he lost his life."

Shawn Lindeman and the men's father, Keith, were at OSU Police headquarters
yesterday talking with investigators.

For 20 years, Greg Lindeman struggled with his illness, Shawn Lindeman said.

Lindeman didn't leave a suicide note, and he had set up appointments for Monday
for a job search, his brother said.

Hours before his death, Lindeman was with his father. The two had bought parts
to work on Greg's car that afternoon.

But Keith Lindeman first had to stop at City Center mall. About 12:30 p.m., Greg
Lindeman told his father he needed to go to the bathroom. That was the last time
he saw his son alive.

After checking the bathroom several times as well as the entire mall, Keith
Lindeman headed home. Having dealt with the unpredictability of his son's
illness for years, he thought that maybe his son suddenly had changed his mind
about what he wanted to do that day.

Family members don't know how Lindeman got from City Center to the garage on E.
12th Avenue. He didn't drive his car there, they said, so he might have walked
or taken a bus or cab.

Three hours later, police notified Keith Lindeman that Greg was dead.

"He kept thinking: 'If something was wrong, why didn't he talk to me about it?'
" Shawn Lindeman said, quoting their father.

Keith Lindeman had returned to school at age 50 to pursue a doctorate in
sociology, Shawn Lindeman said, thinking that would help him better understand

A doctor from the medical center tried to revive Lindeman but couldn't. He was
pronounced dead at 3:12 p.m.

"There's no indication this was anything but a suicide," Brad Lewis, the
Franklin County coroner, said yesterday.

The eldest of three sons, Greg Lindeman lived in an apartment in the University

He underwent shock treatment about a month ago and seemed to regain some of the
personality he had before schizophrenia began to manifest itself, Shawn Lindeman


5. BALTIMORE TIMES, February 16, 2006

[Editor’s Note: There is no hard indication that the gentleman featured in this
column chose to ride out one of the twenty biggest snow storms in Maryland
history under a railroad bridge because he had schizophrenia. The piece only
mentions that he has that disease. But we are hard pressed to come up with
another reason why anyone would do so.]


By Dan Rodricks

I listen to Jim Fielder tell of the homeless man in Harford County - yes, there
really are homeless people in Harford; their presence finally will be
acknowledged with the opening of a cold-weather shelter next month, just in time
for spring - and I keep thinking of what our world looked like Sunday morning,
about 4 o'clock. I had risen with the foolish optimism of making a trip to
Virginia, but the snow was a foot at my door by then, the wind hurling it
horizontally against windows. I think of that - one of the 20 biggest snowfalls
in Maryland history, hurling wind, temperatures in the 20s - when Jim Fielder
tells of the homeless man who spent the night in it.

You have to keep that in mind because, where the story begins, with Fielder
finding the man about 10 a.m., the snow had stopped, and the sun had come out,
the temperature had risen to 31 degrees, and the world was beautiful and white -
pretty enough for a picture. Fielder picked up his camera and walked down the
driveway, away from his house.

The house is in Belcamp, off U.S. 40. To get home, Fielder, who serves the state
of Maryland as secretary of licensing and regulation, must cross CSX railroad
tracks. He stood at the base of the driveway and looked up at his house to take
a picture of it in 18 inches of fresh snow. Then he looked down the railroad
tracks, lightly wooded on both sides, parallel to U.S. 40. Freight cars run up
and down those tracks all the time, including the "Juice Train" that carries
Tropicana products - a magic streak of Florida through the Mid-Atlantic winter.

As he raised his camera to take a shot, Fielder noticed something strange on the
snow on the tracks - a dark lump of some kind, looking as if it had fallen
there. The lump was about 100 yards to the west. Fielder walked toward it.

Too big to be a dog or deer, he thought.

Fielder trudged through the snow and soon recognized the dark lump as a human
being, a man.

The man lay on his right side, perfectly still.

The man wore thick glasses. No hat, no gloves. His jacket was a brown
windbreaker. He wore dark pants, gray socks and sneakers. Fielder remembered
seeing the man at least once before - back in the fall - and the man was walking
near Fielder's driveway, carrying Klein's supermarket bags. Fielder said hello
to the man and wondered how, in this suburban area near the Bush River, someone
could get by - go to work, go shopping - without a car.

Now this man lay in the snow, apparently having spent the night under the nearby
Route 543 overpass.

"Are you all right?" Fielder called to him.

"No, I'm not," the man said, his face against the snow.

"What happened?" Fielder asked.

"I can't move," the man said. "I can't feel my feet. ... Thank God, you're
here." Fielder helped the man sit up. The man was shivering violently. His hands
were wet and cold. Fielder gave the man what he had - his down vest and hooded
sweat shirt. He pulled off his gloves and pulled them over the man's hands, then
he squeezed the man's hands into a fist.

Fielder looked around for a moment. He could see the man's footprints -
shuffling baby steps - leading up to the tracks from under the bridge. He had
apparently spent the night there.

Fielder, who had stripped to his T-shirt, walked back to his house, excited and
shaken by what he had found. He told his wife, Pat, to call 911. "There's a guy
on the railroad tracks," he said. Fielder picked up his cell phone and dialed a
number he'd stored for the CSX dispatcher. The dispatcher contacted an engineer
to halt train traffic.

Now Fielder gathered a heavy, gray-and-green mover's blanket and a canvas tarp
he thought he might need to slide the man across the snow. But Harford County
deputies responded within minutes, and two of them met Fielder on his driveway.
They waited there for paramedics from the Abingdon Fire Department. They all
walked through the snow, back to the man on the tracks.

The man said his name was Charles. He gave his date of birth, which established
his age as 36. The paramedics examined the man's feet and hands, and they
checked his vital signs.

One of them asked Charles where he was from.

"Under the bridge," he said.

At another point, Fielder heard him say, "I have money in the bank, but I
haven't found a good place to rent."

He also told the paramedics that he took medication for schizophrenia.

Fielder again heard Charles say, "Thank God, you're here."

The paramedics and deputies lifted Charles onto a stretcher and carried him down
the tracks, through the snow, onto a stretcher with wheels, then into an
ambulance. The paramedics took Charles to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel
Air, where he was treated for hypothermia. Fielder has been checking on him by
phone, and Charles, who told the hospital he has no family, appears to be
recovering from his night in the storm.

In his reflections on this experience, Fielder had a lot of thoughts - the
reality that Charles was completely helpless and depended on him for survival;
the "system failure" represented by a man with mental illness being found (or
lost) in such an isolated area during a storm; and the nostalgic remembrance of
a time on the Fielder family farms, where strangers like Charles were taken in,
put to work, fed and cared for.

And there was irony: Next month, Harford County will at long last open an
emergency shelter, ending seven years of debate and protest in the only county
in the Baltimore region that had refused to provide a permanent shelter for the
homeless. The new shelter will operate each year from late October through
March, in the Riverside Business Park - about a half-mile from where Jim Fielder
found Charles in the snow.


Treatment Advocacy Center E-NEWS is a publication of the Treatment Advocacy

This E-NEWS is provided as a public service by the Treatment Advocacy Center.
There is no fee. If you would also like to receive a free subscription to the
Catalyst, our quarterly hardcopy newsletter, please forward your mailing address

The Center does not accept donations from pharmaceutical companies. Support
from individuals who share our mission, however, is essential to our ability to
effectively help our most vulnerable citizens. The Treatment Advocacy Center is
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible
to the extent allowed by law. Donations to the Treatment Advocacy Center should
be sent to:

Treatment Advocacy Center
200 North Glebe Road, Suite 730
Arlington, VA 22203
703-294-6001 (main no.)
703-294-6010 (fax)

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?