A man who beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in 2008 may soon be granted unescorted day trips outside of the mental hospital where he is currently committed.
A psychiatrist is asking a Criminal Code Review Board to let Vince Li, 46, have more freedom.
"From a clinical perspective, he has progressed excellently," Dr. Steven Kremer said at a hearing Monday.
Li, once diagnosed with schizophrenia, is reportedly no longer suffering from delusions and is considered non-violent.
"Our overall goal is to eventually have Mr. Li reintegrate into the community,” Kremer said.
Li was found not criminally responsible for stabbing, beheading, and eating Tim McLean in July 2008.
McLean didn’t know Li. He was simply sitting next to him on a bus ride from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Unprovoked, Li attacked him.
Li claimed he heard voices telling him to kill.
Since he was placed in Selkirk Mental Health Centre he has been allowed to take escorted day trips to Winnipeg and other areas. Kremer wants to grant Li unescorted day passes into Silkirk, relocation into a ward of the hospital that is unlocked, and more relaxed supervision on his escorted trips outside the hospital.
Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde didn’t oppose the request.
"Mr. Li has done everything that has been asked of him,” she said.
The victim’s mother, Carol de Delley, says Li doesn’t deserve any freedom, and she has fought to toughen laws on criminal responsibility.
"I don't think it should matter whether you're mentally ill or not mentally ill. If you kill someone, you should lose your freedom, period," de Delley said outside the hearing. "I'm standing out here by my damn self for six years now, and they're going to ultimately let this person free. And if he reoffends, [they'll say], 'Oh well, statistically it shouldn't happen'. But guess what? It does, and it does and it does."
She founded a website where she tracks cases of people found not criminally responsible who reoffend.
Father Could Be Held In Contempt For Speaking Out Against 15-Year-Old’s Year-Long Commitment To Psych Ward
A Massachusetts father defied a gag order to speak out about his 15-year-old daughter who entered the hospital with what seemed like the flu and ended up involuntarily committed to a psych ward without her parents' approval for the last year.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families filed to have Lou Pelletier held in contempt of court for telling the media about his daughter, who was taken away from him in February 2013.
Justina Pelletier's family believes she has mitochondrial disease, just like her older sister. She was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease – a genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy – by doctors at Tufts Medical Center.
But when she went to Boston Children’s Hospital on Feb. 10, 2013, a neurologist said Justina is mentally ill. Without reviewing her history, he said her symptoms of mitochondrial disease are psychosomatic.
Her parents were open to new treatment until they learned the hospital wanted to take away all of Justina’s pain medication.
Astounded, her parents attempted to take her back to Tufts for treatment. That’s when Boston Children’s Hospital called the police.
“I have a right as a U.S. citizen to take my daughter to what doctor I want to, and it’s been taken away,” her mother, Linda Pelletier, told Fox.
Now her parents are involved in a legal battle to regain custody of their daughter one year after the DCF took her away on Feb. 14, 2013.
Lou could be slapped with hefty fines if he is found in contempt, but he says he doesn’t care. The family has turned to the court of public opinion to set Justina free.
“I need to save my daughter. It’s not this courthouse. It’s not the state of Massachusetts,” Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze. “If we don’t do something, she is going to die.”
Her family says she is wasting away without treatment for mitochondrial disease. After being treated for somatoform disorder and overmedication for the past year, it is unclear whether her doctors believe Justina is showing improvement.
"Every procedure she had done was not pushed by us, but by the medical community. Insurance never would have covered it if it were not medically necessary,” Lou said.
The Boston Children’s Hospital defends their doctors and staff.
“We are proud of their work and positive impact on the patient," the statement read. “[O]ur clinicians are particularly distressed that the inaccuracies surrounding this case have caused undo concern for the many children and their families with mitochondrial disorders in our care. Misleading reports suggesting that the hospital holds patients in its inpatient psychiatric unit do not recognize the role of DCF as the legal guardian or the challenges inherent in finding appropriate lower acuity facilities for certain patients.”
The University of Mississippi’s School of Medicine has abandoned the construction of a parking garage in Jackson after tests showed as many as 1,000 bodies are buried at the site.
The corpses are believed to be former patients of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum, which closed about 80 years ago.
"None have names," said Dr. James Keeton, dean of the medical school.
The cost to rebury the body would be about $3,000 per grave.
“We can’t afford that,” Keeton said.
"The property that the University of Mississippi Medical Center is located on used to be the location of the state insane asylum, which operated from 1855 to 1935," university spokesman Jack Mazurack told Yahoo News.
The school used ground-penetrating radar before breaking ground at the site.
"Historically, we knew that there were a lot of graves, many of which were not marked. In the '90s, we took the handful of marked graves and reinterred them in a designated cemetery area," he added.
The university discovered 66 graves in the fall of 2012.
"Throughout the years, as construction projects have gone on, on campus, we've occasionally run across a coffin,” Mazurack said. “In fall of 2012, we were extending a road for a new intersection. That extension ran across an area that had rows of graves."
"There are probably thousands more bodies that we've never seen," said Dr. Luke Lampton, chairman of the state Board of Health, who has researched and written about the asylum.
The State Lunatic Asylum opened on Jan. 8, 1855, and housed 150 patients. After the Civil War it was expanded to house 300 and the area was nicknamed “Asylum Hill.” There were 3,000 patients when the hospital was moved in 1935.
NRA board member R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey is a retired U.S. marine drill instructor who also played an obnoxious drill instructor in the film “Full Metal Jacket” who bullies and insults young men in basic training during the Vietnam War.
Ermey seemed to bring that character to life once again when he was recently interviewed on NRA News while promoting his new reality TV show “Saving Private K-9," reports MediaMatters.org (video below).
“What’s happened is we’ve neutered all the young boys in this country, now,” said Ermey, noted RawStory.com.
“We’ve got little kids committing suicide because somebody bullied them in the school yard,” added Ermey. “You know what? I was bullied when I was a kid, but I tried diplomatically to get out of the situation. If that didn’t work, then I would resort to force, I would pop the guy in the snot locker, drop him down on the deck, and he would think twice before he came and bullied me again.”
In 2013, MediaMatters.org noted that Ermey attacked people on public assistance.
"Welfare back in my time, back when I was a kid, I remember my parents voting for welfare and it was sold to us, like cripples, we got to look after our crippled people in this country," said Ermey. "Crippled, those that can't work, and I guess nowadays lazy is our new cripple."
A North Carolina police officer was indicted on manslaughter charges Monday for shooting and killing a mentally ill teen just 70 seconds after arriving on the scene.
Southport Police Officer Bryon Vassey allegedly told two other officers at the Brunswick county home “we don’t have time for this” when he Tasered and fatally shot 18-year-old Keith Vidal in front of his family on Jan. 5.
Three officers, all from different precincts, responded to a mental health call made by Vidal’s family. His stepfather, Mark Wilsey, can be heard on the 911 call stating that Vidal was trying to fight his mother and was carrying a screwdriver.
"We wanted him to put the screwdriver down because he does have schizophrenia and we didn't know if he was gonna hurt himself," said his mother, Mary Wilsey.
The family says two other officers arrived before Vassey and had restrained the 90-pound teen and calmed him down.
Anthony Owens, a spokesman for the family, said Vidal was “becoming more rational.”
Then Vassey arrived at 12:48 pm, and 70 seconds later a Brunswick County EMS unit standing by advised that shot were fired.
"An officer from another town (Vassey) entered the residence and instructed the officers to stop talking and tase Vidal," Owens said in a statement. "As Vidal tried to flee into the bathroom adjacent to where he was standing, the two officers simultaneously shot him with their Tasers."
His stepfather says the teen was reaching for the screwdriver when the other two cops, Boiling Spring Lakes Officer John Thomas and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Deputy Samantha Lewis, leapt on top of him.
Then Vassey shot into the pile, fatally wounding Vidal in the chest.
The Brunswick County grand jury indicted Vassey Monday. His bond is set at $50,000.
Southport Police Chieg Jerry Dove said the nine-year veteran had no prior disciplinary actions taken again him. He’s been on paid administrative leave since the incident.
He has until Wednesday to surrender, according to a press released from District Attorney Jon David’s office.
In the age of social media and online sharing, it is more important than ever to think about how these avenues of communication affect our mental wellbeing. While Facebook allows us to connect with hundreds or even thousands of people across the world, does it really connect us? Or does it distance us from our communities?
In an article examining the negative effects associated with Facebook, The New Yorker cites psychologist Beth Anderson and her colleagues as saying: “Using the network can quickly become addictive, which comes with a nagging sense of negativity that can lead to resentment of the network for some of the same reasons we joined it to begin with. We want to learn about other people and have others learn about us -- but through that very learning process we may start to resent both others’ lives and the image of ourselves that we feel we need to continuously maintain.”
Although Facebook can be a positive tool for connection, it can also be a source of great dissatisfaction. The very nature of Facebook (i.e., profile pictures, photo albums and tagging, public statuses and wall posts) is competitive. We are free to communicate via private messaging, but because public sharing is highly encouraged, the website can turn into one big bragging fest. When we don’t get enough “likes” or comments on something we’ve shared (or we get none -- quelle horreur!), it can create feelings of peer disapproval, social isolation and social rejection. When we see that our friends’ posts have garnered more attention than our own, we feel unpopular and socially inept -- because the number of likes we receive equals our worth to society, right?! Clearly not, but that is how we (consciously or subconsciously) perceive things to be.
The New Yorker author Maria Konnikiva also points out that Facebook can be harmful to relationships because it can easily create unwarranted feelings of envy and jealousy. The fact of the matter is that Facebook can easily tap into our deepest insecurities and vulnerabilities, making us feel like outsiders and weirdos. It’s almost impossible not to compare ourselves to other Facebook users, especially because our hundreds of “friends” are usually our peers, so we can’t help but feel bad about ourselves when we go on Facebook and see our “friends” have new jobs, new boyfriends, etc.
We can probably all agree that abandoning the Internet as a means of communication is unrealistic. So how can we connect with others online, yet still preserve our sense of self-worth and overall happiness? One great way to connect with others in a convenient and safe environment is to join an online support group. Online support groups offer a totally different social media experience: Instead of logging on to a busy feed filled with bachelorette party pics, college admission or new job statuses, and sappy wall posts by overly-affectionate couples, online support groups offer us a place free of judgment or competition, where we can say exactly what’s on our mind, no matter how dark or “weird” we may sound.
While Facebook makes us want to keep our personal issues as hidden as possible, online support groups encourage us to talk about our sources of unhappiness, and in this way we can examine, confront and possibly even overcome our problems with the help of others. Why not try to connect with others who share the same questions, stories or concerns that you have? Most likely, you will find a community of like-minded people who need your support just as much as you need theirs. Most online support group communities are free and easy to find, so why not try one out? In just a few minutes, you may discover a whole new form of online interaction -- one that makes you feel good about yourself and good about the world.
Grieving Vermont Mother Christina Schumacher Held Against Will in Mental Facility, Billed for Her Stay
Christina Schumacher lived through any parent’s worst nightmare. A week before Christmas, her estranged husband killed their teenage son and then himself. The next day, Schumacher went to her regular psychiatric appointment, where her doctor had police on-hand to detain her if she did not willingly commit herself to a psychiatric facility.
According to reporting done by Mike Donoghue of the Burlington Free Press, the doctor believed she was going to hurt herself before he had even seen her and asked police to be in the office. Schumacher was taken in for what was originally supposed to be a 72-hour stay, but still remains in the facility.
While Schumacher has been in the secure ward, her teenage daughter has been left to navigate this crisis alone.
Adding insult to injury, some say, is that the facility incarcerating Schumacher—Fletcher Allen Health Care—is billing her for the stay. State Rep. Anne Donahue is “a longtime advocate for improving treatment in Vermont for the mentally ill,” and has spoken out against the way involuntary mental health stays are currently billed.
A spokesman for Fletcher Allen declined to discuss specifics, but said in some cases Medicaid will pick up the cost. However Schumacher has said that Fletcher Allen has been billing her insurance.
There has been some resistance on the part of the court to make the proceedings public, citing the difficulty of “balancing the competing interests” of the public and a person’s right to privacy concerning health matters. However, since it was Schumacher who reached out to the Free Press, it is unlikely that the latter is of any concern.
Disabled Iraq war veteran Benjamin Wardrid, who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, was turned away from a restaurant in Mooresville, N.C., because of his service dog, Beau.
"I went to go eat with my family at the Hong Mei Hibachi Grill and Buffett in Mooresville and was refused service from this restaurant," Wardrid told WBTV. "It was strictly because I had my service dog with me. I was completely baffled and that is the first time that has ever happened to me.”
Turning a patron away because they have a service dog violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that "privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities.”
The ADA ensures people with disabilities are allowed onto business premises and any place other customers are “generally allowed” with their service animal.
Follow veterans and police officers returned to the restaurant with Wardrid to speak with the restaurant owners.
"We are here to support him, making sure that we can get this resolved, making sure the owner of the restaurant will let him have entrance," said veteran Mike Melton, who was awarded the purple heart in Vietnam.
Wardrid said at first they tried to convince him to eat somewhere else, then claimed he is allowed to eat in a certain area of the restaurant with his service animal.
Off camera, the restaurant owner told WBTV that they had previously had bad experiences with service dogs.
Since a clandestinely recorded clip of then-candidate Obama emerged saying that voters in Pennsylvania “cling” to god and guns, the President has been perceived as a staunch opponent of the Second Amendment. However, in his first term the only thing the President did regarding gun rights was allow people to carry weapons in National Parks. However in light the highly-publicized spate of mass shootings, most powerfully the Newtown shooting, the President issued two executive actions focused on federal background checks.
Most responsible legal-gun owners do not object to the background check system since it was implemented in 1993. While any expansion of gun laws—such as New York’s restrictive magazine-capacity law—sends the most fervent firearm enthusiasts into a fury, these new proposals seem perfectly rational but, like all laws, have the potential for abuse.
The proposals are designed to ease the regulations that prevent states from sharing information about mental health with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, specifically by easing some of the privacy protections in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA.
As written, these proposals only affect “persons prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons,” thus does not mean that simply visiting a therapist will prevent a citizen from owning a gun. However, the vague nature of that language has those that fear the slippery slope skeptical of the reforms.
The White House is still calling on Congress to pass “common-sense gun safety legislation,” such as “expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime.” However, Congress already did that in March of 2013.
The Obama administration is proposing “a new $130 million initiative to address several barriars that may prevent people—especially youth and young adults—from getting help for mental health problems.” However, Congress would still have to appropriate those funds in order to make that happen.
State Trooper Michael L. Keyes can carry a gun while on duty. When off duty, however, he is barred by law from possessing any firearms.
Keyes being banned from firearms off duty stems from a decision by the state of Pennsylvania's Superior Court, based on events from seven years ago.
Keyes suffered from deep depression, tried to kill himself repeatedly by taking drugs, and was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, reports The Patriot News. These factors weighed in to the decision made by the court on whether to allow Keyes to carry a firearm off duty.
The court's ruling states that Keyes' involuntary mental health commitment constitutes an unsurmountable legal barrier to his ability to possess a gun.
The federal Gun Control Act is at play in this decision. It bars anyone who has been subjected to involuntary mental health commitments from possessing guns. Expungement is not possible for Keyes' involuntary mental health commitment record and so he cannot surmount the federal ban.
Infowars comments on the situation, stating an implication here that public officials have special status over private citizens, since Keyes can carry a firearm when he is serving the state.
President Judge Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott wrote that it is rational for Keyes to still be allowed a gun on duty because he is under supervision and observation of superior officers and his fellow troopers.
The Patriot News attempted to reach Keyes' attorney, Joshua Prince, for comment on the case, but was unsuccessful.