Mentally ill Estacada teen sought help before fatal crash

Matthew Daniel Ingle

By Steven Mayes, The Oregonian

Matthew Daniel Ingle checked himself into psychiatric wards three times in the 28 days before his fatal encounter with a Eagle Creek mother and daughter.

He knew something was wrong.

Then, on April 25, high on marijuana and in the grip of schizophrenic delusions, Ingle blew through a red light on U.S. 26 west of Sandy and slammed into a car driven by Pamela L. Benson.

Ingle thought aliens or possibly the “Holy Spirit” controlled his 1987 Toyota 4Runner. Both Benson and her 11-year-old daughter, Clarice, were killed.

It was the tragic intersection of two innocent people and a teenager who knew he was losing touch with reality.

On Tuesday, Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Rastetter found Ingle, 18, guilty except for insanity of second-degree manslaughter. He will spend 20 years under the state Psychiatric Security Review Board’s supervision. Ingle will go to the Oregon State Hospital and the board will determine when he might be released or returned to the community.

Members of Benson’s family agreed with the sentence, saying she was a compassionate woman who would want Ingle treated mercifully.

The family “has shown tremendous strength,” said Steven Mygrant, a Clackamas County deputy district attorney. “Their loss was immeasurable” but they were true to Pamela Benson’s wishes, Mygrant said.

Her husband, Jon Benson was less forgiving. “I have no mercy for you. The mercy comes from those you killed,” said Benson in a written statement. “We survivors owe you nothing.”

Kathy Pollock, Jon Benson’s mother, described “a family torn apart in a split second.” She said she wanted Ingle to know something about the people who died at his hands.

Pamela Benson was a devoted wife and mother. A warm and empathetic woman who worked as a speech pathologist and delighted “in teaching children to communicate.”

Clarice was a sweet and generous girl who easily attracted friends. She bubbled with curiosity and creativity. She checked out 2,200 library books over the last four years of her life. She wrote poems. She had a horse named Angel.

Since the deadly crash, Ingle, an Estacada resident, has been in the Clackamas County jail. He takes medication that stifles his delusions and seemed lucid in court.

Ingle cried at times as he listened to Pollock. His mother, who sat in the front row of the courtroom, also wept.

“I’m terribly sorry,” said Ingle, who spoke softly. “I wish there was more I could do.”

On the day of the crash, Ingle had taken prescription anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs. After the collision, Ingle told an investigator that a spaceship might have “locked on” to his steering wheel. A friend told investigators that Ingle took an antacid to give him “white light” that would ward off the devil.

Such thoughts prompted Ingle to check himself into psychiatric hospitals, spending 21 days as a patient in the four weeks before the crash.

“He recognizes the enormity of what happened at his hands,” Ingle’s attorney, Terrance McCauley said. “I suspect Mr. Ingle will be the very best human being he can be … because of what he caused.”

–Steve Mayes


Psychiatric patient won’t move to hospice

Terminally ill man must remain in State Hospital
By Alan Gustafson

A state board ruled Wednesday that a terminally ill mental patient with AIDS will remain at the Oregon State Hospital and not be released to a community hospice care facility.

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board concluded that the ailing patient, Robert Anderson, can receive hospice care at the state-run psychiatric facility in Salem.

Anderson, 47, bowed his head and slumped in his chair when the board decision was announced. Outside the hearing room, he expressed frustration and anger.

“How can people sit in a room for 20 minutes and pass a death sentence on me?” he said. “How can you look someone in the face and say, ‘We know you’re dying, but you have to stay here.'”

Testimony provided to the review board indicated that doctors have told Anderson that he has less than six months to live.

Anderson dreads the prospect of dying at the state institution, possibly without loved ones at his side.

In seeking a conditional release, he hoped to spend whatever time he has left in a Portland-area facility — closer to his daughter, church and other supporters.

Anderson, who has a long history of mental illness, recently landed in the hospital’s forensic psychiatric program after he was found guilty except for insanity of attempted arson. He reportedly set fire to a Portland duplex early this year. No one was injured.

Anderson recently was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer that often afflicts people who have AIDS.

Given Anderson’s condition, his hopes for moving to a community hospice facility are “racing against the clock,” said Harris Matarazzo, Anderson’s attorney.

“He understands his time on the planet is very limited now,” Matarazzo told the review board.

Under Oregon law, the board can conditionally release patients to live in community facilities. Typically, a conditional release occurs only after a patient makes progress in treatment, receives favorable reports from hospital therapists, is deemed no longer dangerous and has a suitable place to reside in the community.

The state hospital did not support Anderson’s request for a conditional release.

Dr. Satya Chandragiri, a state hospital psychiatrist, told the review board that Anderson is receiving comprehensive medical treatment.

Anderson currently is housed on hospital Ward 35B. Some of the patients living on the medical unit have dementia, along with mental illnesses. Others are physically frail.

Anderson frequently displays irritation, frustration and anger about being held at the hospital, Chandragiri said.

“He’s becoming very hopeless with all the constraints placed on him,” the therapist said.

The review board denied Anderson’s bid for a conditional release after brief, closed-door deliberations.

The board also denied Matarazzo’s request to have Anderson evaluated by a community facility for possible placement at some future date. or (503) 399-6709

Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighbors tour new “Balfour House” treatment facility

By David F. Ashton

Building a new eight-bed secure residential treatment facility on the southern edge their neighborhood had worried folks in the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood area ever since the plans were announced more than a year ago.

That unease didn’t slow or stop the project — and now, the “Johnson Creek Secure Residential Treatment Facility” at 2808 S.E. Balfour Street is about to begin operation.

On October 8th, ColumbiaCare Services, a non-profit company that provides mental health and residential services for citizens of Oregon and Idaho, held an open house at the new facility which many neighbors call the “Balfour House”.

“We’re providing a comfortable residence and rehabilitation services, as well as medication services for people who have serious mental illness, and who in the past have committed serious crimes,” explained Andrew Axer, Facility Administrator, at the event.

Specifically, we learned, the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) refers to such individuals as those “with mental illness who have committed a crime and have been found ‘guilty except for insanity’.”

“The clients who come here generally have spent quite a long time in the hospital, receiving treatment,” Axer explained. “Before they can come to a facility like ours, they need to demonstrate that they are stable. They have to be able to be trusted by the PSRB — which is primarily interested in protecting public safety. When they meet the board’s requirement for discharge, they receive what is called ‘Conditional Release’.”

Axer compared this to parole in the criminal justice system. “They come here under the very stringent expectations of the PSRB. They need to attend a certain number of groups, participate in individual and group counseling, take medications, and subject themselves to urine analysis tests. They are subject to room searches. They cannot leave the house without staff supervision. If they leave the house, they have to be carefully assessed for the risk — whatever risks we might consider relevant to this client.”

Asked if he thought the facility was a security risk for the neighborhood, the fear which had made the facility controversial locally, Axer responded, “No, I don’t think that it will cause any safety issues. Of course, there is a perception that makes people very uncomfortable — that people at this house have committed serious felonies. But, they were mentally unstable at the time.”

Axer elaborated, “I would say that people have their reasons to be concerned, as long as they really don’t know who is living in their neighborhood. Once they get to know each other, I think some of the concerned will decrease. I think the neighbors have also been concerned about the size of the house, here in a predominantly residential neighborhood. But our main task is not to be a nuisance to the community; but instead to be a good neighbor.”

Pointing to the ten-page “Good Neighbor Agreement” — with a six page appendix — to which the facility’s management, the neighborhood association leadership, and local law enforcement agencies had signed off, Axer added, “We have every intention of following both the spirit and the letter of the agreement.”

The facility’s Assistant Administrator, Michael Donohue, said its clients will be under 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week supervision. “There are least two employees here on-site at all times.”

State Representative Carolyn Tomei was one of the dignitaries who came by to visit the facility. “I think this could be a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. Some of the neighbors are concerned. But, I think when people see it in operation, their fears will be allayed.”

“I think the facility is absolutely wonderful,” commented Jo Hamilton who said she lives a half block away, after touring the house. “It feels calming and open; it’s a very nice atmosphere. My concern is that I don’t know a lot about who the patients are. But I’m okay and I will be okay.”

The City of Milwaukie’s Police Chief, Bob Jordan, said he thought that the Good Neighbor Agreement addresses many of the community’s concerns. “I look forward to thier having a nice, quiet presence here.”

Not all visitors were as sanguine. Tracey Moist said her family lives “very near” the facility, and she said she still has some concerns. “I have four young children. I keep being told the residents here are fine. I want to have faith in them, but I’m still scared. We are doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our family.”

The security at their home has been strengthened, she reported — putting extra locks on the windows, for example. “This is the first neighborhood that I’ve lived in where, until now, I’ve felt safe and free. I’m wondering why they would want to put a place like this in neighborhood with 80 kids, near a school. I don’t say this to be rude. I know these people have to have a place to go.”

Having met the staff and toured facility, Moist said it’s helped her “relax a little bit. But, that doesn’t mean I’ve changed my feelings on this. I’m still worried.”

Review board grants two requests from man responsible for 1996 Scientology shooting

By Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian

The man responsible for shooting four people at Portland’s downtown Scientology Celebrity Centre in 1996 took a step toward greater independence this week.

The Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board on Wednesday granted Jairus Chegero Godeka’s request to get to and from his job without a staff chaperone.

Mary Claire Buckley, executive director of the board, said a three-member panel also granted his request that he advance from a level four patient to a level five, which means Godeka, 51, is eligible to take 30- to 60-minute outings without supervision. The highest level a psychiatric patient can reach is six.

Buckley said one of Godeka’s victims – Helen Healy, who was Helen Burke at the time of the shooting – spoke at the hearing in Salem. Church member Gwen Barnard spoke as well.

“They were quite gracious and acknowledged that Mr. Godeka has done well and (were) pleased he had received this treatment,” Buckley said. She said Healy told the panel that she did not fear for her own life, but “public safety in general. She never wanted it to happen to anybody else,” Buckley said.

Healy, who still lives in the Portland area, could not be reached for comment Thursday, and a church official had not returned a phone call by Thursday evening.

In June 2005, Godeka was moved from the state hospital to a secure residential treatment facility in Lane County.

“The man has been a model resident there,” Buckley said. “He has never been late or missed an appointment or treatment group. He has been completely compliant.

“We have not had any occasion to revoke his conditional release,” she said.

Godeka works at a cafeteria job in Lane County and until this week has been required to have a staff member drive him to and from work each day. Now he will be able to get to and from work using public transportation.

The Scientology shooting was one of the more spectacular crimes in Portland’s history.

During a busy downtown lunch hour Sept. 25, 1996, Godeka went into the center at 709 S.W. Salmon St. with a red can of gasoline. He shot Helen Burke, who was pregnant, with a .45-caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun as she sat at the lobby desk.

The gunshot paralyzed her from the waist down. He then quickly shot and wounded two men who came to the woman’s aid. A third man discovered he had been shot about an hour after the incident. Godeka held a fifth person hostage for a few minutes before police talked him into surrendering.

Godeka’s exact motives were unclear but he claimed that Scientology drove him crazy, ruined his business and owed him $50,000.

In March 1998, Godeka was found “guilty except for insanity” and placed in custody of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for up to 120 years.

That sentence included consecutive 20-year terms for each of the four people Godeka shot at the center, 20 more for kidnapping a Scientology employee, and 20 for arson because he spread gasoline around the building lobby and set it on fire.

The judge ruled that all four shootings constituted attempted murder even though Godeka asked Kerry Chipman, his attorney, to argue that he didn’t mean to kill anybody. When it was over, the judge asked Godeka whether he had anything to say.

Godeka asked the judge to let him go.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Godeka is the second-oldest of nine children Once a successful small-business operator, he came to the United States in about 1979 and was a student at Clark College in Vancouver, Wash.

Godeka had a history of mental illness going back more than 20 years. He was involved only briefly with the church, had made threats against it in San Francisco, and in 1994 threatened to kill church employees in Portland if they did not pay him $50,000.

— Noelle Crombie

Construction Booming for Mental Health Hospitals

From The Lund Report, October 12, 2009

A building boom may be good for capacity but it threatens to supplant community mental health options

As private mental health hospitals spring up across the state to compete with a new Oregon State Hospital building under construction, community mental health providers are crying out for their own funding.

Leaders at the highest levels in the state’s mental health system acknowledge the strange universe that funds hospitals for the mentally ill while allowing out-patient preventative care to whither.

Given the recent crisis and patchwork reformulation of the state’s largest mental health provider, the current situation is even more surreal. In the wake of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s collapse last year, providers hoped that a better community-treatment system would emerge from the ashes, but so far, they lament no framework has proven viable to replace it.

Most insiders aren’t especially surprised that community mental healthcare got the short shrift once again.

“Community mental health has never been adequately resourced in Oregon,” says Mary Claire Buckley, executive director of the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board.

Convicted criminals who successfully assert the insanity defense are placed under the review board’s jurisdiction, yet Buckley worries more and more about what prevents patients from entering the criminal justice system in the first place. “The more resources you have in the community, the better the whole system, and that’s what I’m concerned about,” she says.

Concern is especially high throughout Oregon’s mental health field due to a January 2010 ballot referendum that would renege $733 million in state taxes designated for upkeep of social services post-recession. Gina Nikkel, the Association of Community Mental Health Programs executive director, argues that the mental health care situation had reached dire proportions long before the economic downturn.

“If that ballot measure at the end of January goes south for us, we’ll be looking at cutting 30 percent of services, and we already don’t have funding that’s even close to adequate,” Nikkel says.

That said, critics of insufficient allocation to community mental health wouldn’t want community funding to come at the expense of acute care centers such as the state hospital.

Buckley, whose board manages forensic patients’ entry into and exit from the state hospital, has always tried to keep lengths of stay to a minimum. The facility was originally built in the 19th century and is best known as the filming location for the Academy Award-winning version of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “A replacement of the current hospital is long overdue,” she says.

However, Buckley and other administrators lack many alternatives to the state hospital, which has operated at more than 100 percent of capacity in recent years. The last biennium budgeted $373 a day per patient, which quickly adds up over $100 million when the hospital keeps more than 800 patients year-round.

“It’s not the chicken or the egg, we need all levels of care,” Nikkel says. “You have to fund it all.”

She sees a dangerous proposition in such an uneven funding environment. “You can’t shift all the money to the front end and let the back end fail or vice-versa,” she says.

Yet now the main hope of community mental health care advocates lies in the unlikeliest of places, the hospital system itself. Once a new Salem building is completed in 2011, Roy Orr, superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital, sees an opportunity for his staff to administer non-ward-based services that have traditionally been solely in the community realm.

“Historically the state hospital hasn’t been strong enough on treatment in general, but more specifically, we’ve lacked the staff to provide the intensity of treatment that our residents deserve,” Orr says.

The shortage of services has not been unique to the state hospital. Richard Harris, Addictions and Mental Health Division director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, figures that only half of the vulnerable population has any access to care.

“Sub-acute capacity needs to be increased in communities,” Harris says. “The goal for all mental health services should be to get people self-sufficient.”

Orr has agreed to this goal in principle and claims it’s already playing out in practice at the state hospital. He points to “treatment malls,” designed toward socialization, in which his staff has already begun participating off-site.

“We can’t just take the old contents of the state hospital and dump it in the new one,” he says.

As to why the funding for building wasn’t spread out among more community facilities, Orr says, “That decision was frankly made before my arrival, and I didn’t second-guess that.

“Our critical point of articulation with community providers, whether out-patient or acute, is that we provide a safety net,” he adds. “What we really try to do is work as closely as we can with AMH and through them work with all the community providers.”

Advocates aren’t so sure the system can support itself effectively. Buckley emphasizes the importance of preventative care to support the acute-care facilities.

“DHS has been doing a good job creatively getting people back in the community, but there is only so much they can do with the current funding situation,” she says. “Hopefully what that building’s going to bring is a whole new treatment model, but we’re spending all these millions on the state hospital, and that’s only a small piece of the process.”

Oregon State Hospital patient may have died several hours before body was found

By Michelle Cole, The Oregonian

SALEM — State medical examiners estimate a Oregon State Hospital patient found dead in his bed Saturday evening may have died several hours before hospital staff discovered his body.

An autopsy performed Thursday concludes that Moises Perez, 42, died from coronary artery disease. Dr. Karen Gunson, Oregon state medical examiner, said the death likely occurred six to eight hours before the Marion County medical examiner saw the body at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Staff distributed dinner trays to rooms on the medium-security ward between 5 and 6 p.m., but hospital officials would not say specifically whether Perez received a tray.

Other patients at the state mental hospital say Perez was dead a long time before anybody noticed. Patients told mental health advocates and The Oregonian that Perez ate breakfast but did not show up for lunch Saturday. They also said he had complained of chest pains.

Perez shared a room with three other patients and was found dead when staff dispensed nighttime medications about 7:40 p.m.

Hospital officials said confidentiality laws prevent them from talking about when or how many times staff checked on Perez on Saturday.

Advocates for the mentally ill have called for an investigation to determine how Perez died and whether hospital staff neglected him.

The Oregon State Police reopened its investigation of the death.

“Our detective is going to re-interview and interview any others he believes necessary in order to ensure the investigation was thoroughly done,” Lt. Gregg Hastings, an OSP spokesman, said Thursday.

Hospital officials and the Oregon Department of Human Services said they will conduct their own investigations, which are routine in such cases.

Perez was sent to the hospital in 1995 after he was found guilty but insane of assault and attempted murder. He was to remain under the jurisdiction of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board until 2034.

Addiction-treatment home lets women keep their children

Reyna Belmont
A place to stay a mom

The youngest resident of Her Place, a Marion County transitional home for women in drug and alcohol treatment, happened to be the born on the day the new house’s inhabitants moved in.

“I was so thankful that they’d let me keep her,” said mother Reyna Belmont, 28, as she held her newborn daughter, Kaliana Gabriela Juarez-Salinas, now 3 weeks old.

Belmont and six other women live at Her Place, which held a celebration and open house Wednesday to show its new space. The 3,500-square-foot, one-level home is an improvement from the program’s former home, an aging, two-story house in constant need of repair.

In the new home, each of the six bedrooms was sponsored by donors such as Salem Alliance Church and Salem Hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit employees, who provided new furnishings, bedding and decor.

“This is Extreme Makeover: Her Place Edition,” said Teri Morgan, the lead counselor.

The home’s living room is used for group treatment sessions. A back playroom for children is staffed during the day.

For women with children, the greatest challenges in seeking treatment are transportation, child care and housing, Morgan said. Her Place provides a safe, supportive environment for the mothers, who also are encouraged to help one another.

“It’s really about getting living skills and getting drug-treatment skills,” Morgan said.

When Belmont came home from the hospital, she was greeted by the new home and furnishings. Belmont, who has been part of Her Place for about four months, had Morgan name her daughter out of gratitude.

“It’s a great place,” she said. “I wouldn’t have my little girl right now.”

A resident can stay at Her Place for as long as 100 days, or more if necessary. Often, the mothers have pending child-welfare and criminal cases. Many are on a waiting list to get into the program.

“When they come in, they’re so broken,” Morgan said.

Often, the women have suffered from domestic violence, trauma or other kinds of abuse, she said. The location of Her Place is unpublished because some of its participants have been victims of domestic abuse.

Some of the participants also are in Circuit Judge Pamela Abernethy’s Fostering Attachment, an alternative court program that focuses on reuniting families in child-welfare cases, and are involved with Family Building Blocks, a Mid-Valley relief nursery.

Abernethy, who spoke at Wednesday’s event, said she wished Her Place could be replicated throughout the community.

“This is the place where moms go home with their babies,” she said.

Her Place graduate Susie Greenlee, 27, of Salem told the audience that she once was told during an early evaluation that she was never fit to be a parent.

Nearly two years later, she has custody of her 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, a job and her own home.

“It was like a complete 180,” Greenlee said.

Her Place has been a Marion County program for at least 20 years, said Trish Davis, the clinical supervisor of the county’s drug-and-alcohol treatment programs.

The impetus for the new home was the management changeover of the program. Her Place’s former provider, Portland-based Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, went through financial struggles in 2008.

At that time, Marion County health officials began restructuring its drug-and-alcohol treatment programs. In July, Marion County took over management of Her Place.

Her Place resident Helen Rice, 24, recently was reunited with her young daughter Sabrina, who returned to her custody one week ago.

Rice, who will celebrate her daughter’s first birthday today, said she wants to return to study addiction services at Chemeketa Community College.

“My daughter is my life, and I love her,” Rice said. “I can’t take care of her loaded.” or (503) 589-6941