Did anyone see it coming?

Published on
July 26, 2013

This past Tuesday a couple was found dead in their own home. The victims were later identified as Erskin Fulgham (87 years old) and his wife Mary (84 years old). Detectives only confirmed they had “obvious signs of trauma”. It seemed like there was no forced entry and the couple’s Buick was missing. A day later the vehicle was found in Nevada, and police arrested three suspects including the couple’s grandson Kyle Drattlo (20 years old).

Today, I talked to Dr. Martha Lomeli about the possible reasons a teenager or young adult will commit such crimes. She said, “As parents, grandparents or teachers we should be paying attention to any indicators of mental health problems, because it’s the principal cause of violent behavior.”

At the age of thirteen, children who suffer some kind of mental disorder will start to show signs such as:  Antisocial behavior, lack of sleep or too much sleep, aggressive against family or teachers, anger, and new “friends”.  Dr. Lomeli adds, “If there’s not a strong relationship between the teenager and parents, he or she may want to “belong” and that is the way they become members of a gang, seek a cult, look for a leader and sometimes it is the wrong leader.” 

As I interviewed Dr. Lomeli I started thinking of other criminal cases where we learned that the suspect was later diagnosed with some type of mental disorder.

Jared Loughner was accused of the attempted murder of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the homicide of six people, and the injury of over a dozen. According to acquaintances, his personality had changed years prior to the shooting, he used alcohol and drugs. However it wasn’t until after the tragedy and his arrest that he was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and was unable to stand trial.

Adam Lanza is the suspect who fatally shot twenty children and six adult in Newtown Connecticut in Sandy Hook Elementary. Before the shooting, he killed his mother at their home. Lanza committed suicide right after the shootings. Friends and family described him as an “intelligent but nervous kid.”  He avoided socializing and didn’t have close friends at school. At the age of six he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, frequently related to autism. After the shooting, experts confirmed that his violent actions are not seen in Autism.

The fact is that these 3 very different violent crimes have one thing in common. The suspect had or has (not yet confirmed on the Drattlo case) a probable mental disorder not diagnosed at an early age and not given proper attention and treatment.