Move to relax watch on killer terrifies family’s survivors
State hospital – Officials ask to send a convicted murderer to a small Pendleton facility
Tyler Smith still is haunted by the day 10 years ago when his uncle stabbed him five times during a rampage through his grandfather’s home in Beavercreek.
Smith, now 24, cringes when he remembers dialing 9-1-1 and reporting that his uncle already had killed his grandfather and was strangling his 10-year-old sister.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they pepper-sprayed the out-of-control uncle and shot him three times in the legs before they could subdue him. The last shot blew off his lower left leg; still he hopped into the bathroom, where deputies finally pulled him from the tub, grunting, screaming and declaring himself to be Jesus Christ.
In the decade since, Tyler and his 21-year-old sister, Jaime Smith, have recovered, burying their fears as they made lives for themselves.
Now, both are reliving their terror as Oregon State Hospital officials want to transfer their uncle, convicted murderer Christopher Darrell Persyn, 36, to a smaller, secure residential facility about to open in Pendleton.
Both say Persyn should remain under the highest levels of supervision and care.
“I love my uncle,” said Tyler Smith, who was in a wheelchair for two years following the attack. “But I don’t trust him any farther than I could throw him under water. I already live in pain. I don’t want to live in fear, too.”
Jaime Smith said her uncle’s personal safety also could be at risk.
“He has a mental disease and can’t take care of himself,” she said. “He needs to be in Salem, where he can be taken care of.”
When deputies arrived at the home on Forest Park Road on June 3, 1998, they confronted a scene of horror.
They found 64-year-old Darrell Mitford Persyn already dead, lying in a pool of blood.
Thirteen-year-old Tyler was passed out on the floor from loss of blood. He was rushed by helicopter to OHSU Hospital, but suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen. He was in a coma for 21/2 days.
His sister, Jaime, shaken and bruised, escaped her uncle’s grip only by promising to pray.
“He wouldn’t let go of my neck until I promised to say the Hail Mary — which I did not know — so I made something up,” she said. “That seemed to suffice, at least long enough to get away.”
In the following months, Persyn pleaded guilty-but-insane to killing his father and assaulting his niece and nephew. He was sentenced to a life of supervision under the state Psychiatric Security Review Board and has been living in the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
Hospital officials say Persyn has shown sufficient progress that he no longer needs daily psychiatric supervision. They have filed a motion to have Persyn transferred to Pendleton House, a 16-client residential facility expected to open around Jan. 1.
The motion will be heard Monday by a three-member panel of the five-member review board.
Mary Clare Buckley, the review board’s executive director, said the panel’s decision will be made on a preponderance of evidence and must be unanimous, or it will be referred to the entire board.
Buckley said the new facility will be secure, with more than 30 staff members. The main difference is that psychiatric care and evaluation will be more limited.
“The hospital staff believes the Pendleton House probably will be a more calming and therapeutic environment,” Buckley said.
Prosecutors and police are against the move.
Gregory D. Horner, Clackamas County chief deputy district attorney, said Persyn belongs under maximum supervision.
“We don’t believe that the proposed state-run local facility would provide the necessary level of security,” Horner said.