Off Medication: “I Fear He Will Kill Me!” Mother Says About Jailed Son

Fairfax County Photo

(10-25-21) This recent email made me ask two questions. Why wasn’t something done to help this young man before he was arrested? What can be done now to keep him from attacking his mother and further ruining his life? 

Dear Pete,

I find myself in a desperate situation.

My son is 28 with schizoaffective disorder. He did fairly well with his illness for many years while consistently on medication but spiraled downward in the last year and a half due to going off medication. He is currently in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for breaking a protective order against me.

After four attempts to have him hospitalized (two were successful but too brief), I finally had to get a protective order. Between late April and July he was trying to kill me. He kept trying to break into my house with knives and axes.

He was clearly suffering from voices or delusions telling him he had to do that. He no longer realizes that he is ill.

He is being held without bond in the mental health unit at the jail until January – when his trial begins. He is being seen by behavioral health staff but continues to refuse medication. Everyone tells me he can’t be forced to take medication even though he has shown that he was dangerous. Those seeing him told me that he is behaving well enough that he doesn’t qualify to be sent to a hospital right now.

I’ve been told that the only other alternative I have is for his defense attorney to claim he is incompetent and have him sent to a state hospital but that doesn’t seem possible given his good behavior in jail.

Are you aware of any laws in Virginia that could require him to take his medication because when he is on it, he becomes stable. Without medication he is doomed. Without medication, I fear he will kill me and spend his life in a state prison.

I’m trying to save myself and save my son – who is too ill to know what he’s doing. I love my son and want the boy back who used to play guitar and write music.

The boy who loved me.

I’m trying to prevent a tragedy.  Help!

( I have forwarded this email to various Fairfax County officials.) If you have helpful advice, please share it on my Facebook page.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.