Society

Man Who Beheaded 5-Year-Old Son Released (Photos)

| by Jonathan Constante
Bloody knifeBloody knife

A Virginia man who was hospitalized for paranoid schizophrenia after decapitating his 5-year-old son has been granted conditional release.

Joseph Henry Hagerman III, 42, was granted conditional release from Eastern State Hospital on May 8, the Daily Mail reported. He was admitted into the mental institution after he was found not guilty of the February 2009 murder of his 5-year-old son, Joshua, by reason of insanity.

Hagerman, who was previously hospitalized twice for paranoid schizophrenia, had stopped taking his medications and was barely sleeping at the time he killed his son. He was obsessively reading the Bible's Book of Revelations, according to a psychologist's report.

On the morning he killed Joshua, Hagerman became convinced his wife Shirley and others were "anti-Christs" who intended to do harm to his son. He then attacked Joshua with a serrated kitchen knife in the family living room as he was putting away his toys.

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"If I didn't take my son's life, he would have lost his eternal salvation," Hagerman said in an interview with WVEC-TV. "I know it's a horrible thing."

"I didn't want him to lose his salvation," he continued. "I wanted him to go fast. I didn't want him to be tortured."

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Hagerman reportedly told his boy to give his life to Jesus as he cut his head off, Shirley told authorities. She tried desperately to intervene, but could not restrain Hagerman. Shirley had slashes to her hands from the attack. She ran from the home and called 911.

Hagerman ran into the street after the attack, with blood all over his clothes, and was quickly arrested. He reportedly drank toilet water while in the city jail, believing it was safer than the food and water provided at the facility.

Three months later, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

During his hearing on May 8, Hagerman's psychologists testified that he had been a "model patient" and responded well to treatment. His release was requested by staff at the mental health institution.

Prosecutors were against the release, but mental health experts insisted that Hagerman was ready for supervised release.

Hagerman will be required to live in an adult foster care facility on the weekdays, but will live with his parents on the weekends.

"We're just happy that it's over with and that he's been given a second chance," Hagerman's sister, Maria Teresa Lancaster, told The Virginian-Pilot as she left the courthouse. "My brother didn't do it out of malice. He's mentally ill. When he's medicated, he's fine and stable."

A recent study of people diagnosed with schizophrenia showed that after 10 years, 25 percent completely recovered and 25 percent showed vast improvement and were relatively independent, schizophrenia.com reported. However another 25 percent showed some improvement, but required extensive support.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Virginian-Pilot, Schizophrenia.com / Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil/Public Domain Pictures, WTK3 via Daily Mail, Facebook via Daily Mail

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