A 29-year-old Tacoma man who allegedly beat his father to death early Thursday suffered for years from paranoid delusions, according to court records.
Last year, a doctor who evaluated the man’s mental state in an earlier criminal case noted he had a history of “dangerous, life-threatening behavior” and warned he should not be released from jail without further tests.
Police detectives believe the man’s delusions likely played a role in the death of the man’s father, who was found dead in his bed inside the family’s home at North Ninth Street and Union Avenue.
Officials have not identified the father, who was 56 and a teacher in the Bethel School District. An autopsy is expected to be done today; police said he appeared to have died from blunt force trauma.
The son was taken into custody after he and one of his sisters walked to the Pierce County Jail about 4 a.m. and told corrections officers that he’d killed his father, police said. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.
The News Tribune is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.
The events leading up to the attack remained unknown Thursday. Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said there was no argument before the beating, which likely took place while the father was sleeping.
The sister, who was visiting, was in the house at the time of the slaying, police said. The mother was not home.
Neighbors said the father was friendly and well-liked. He “was a very good guy and I’ll miss seeing him in the neighborhood,” Andy Jessberger said.
They said the man’s son acted bizarre, howling from the roof and claiming to be a rapper for God. Several said they avoided talking to the son because he rambled about aliens, war and the president.
Police responded when the son climbed into a nearby tree and started yelling about two years ago, they said.
Patrick Honan said Thursday he called 911 that day and walked from his home to the tree, where the man was yelling nonsensically and in anger, about topics such as the president.
Honan said he turned to speak to the woman next to him, to find she was the man’s mother.
“She goes, ‘Well, that’s my son. He has schizophrenia and is probably off his medication,’” Honan recalled. “It was very sad.”
It’s unclear when the son began suffering from delusions but he first ran into trouble with the law Aug. 24, 2010, when he allegedly stole a Jeep Wrangler from a Tacoma dealership.
Pierce County prosecutors charged him with first-degree robbery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Charging papers state he got the keys to test drive a Jeep but locked the doors when the salesman tried to get in the passenger seat.
He allegedly tried to run the salesman down twice as he drove off the lot.
Police later pulled the man over in the stolen Jeep. He stood on the driver’s seat and claimed he was in line with the Illuminati – an 18th century secret society some believe still exists – and had taken the car “for the people,” according to court documents.
Officers had to use a Taser on the man to control him.
After being charged with the incident, a judge ordered him to be evaluated at Western State Hospital.
He was criminally committed to the Lakewood mental facility from October 2010 to May 2011, when he was returned to jail, state Department of Social and Health Services spokesman Thomas Shapley said.
After being evaluated, the man was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
In the evaluation the doctor noted the man’s past “dangerous, life-threatening behavior” and despite treatment, suffered from paranoid delusions about the Illuminati.
“He is likely to act on these beliefs again,” the doctor wrote in his evaluation. “He should not be released from jail absent an evaluation.”
After the man was deemed incapable to stand trial the court, in a civil commitment, ordered the man back to Western State in August 2011. Shapley said laws bar him from discussing patients who are civilly committed, leaving it unclear when the man was released from the mental hospital.
Neighbors said the son seemed to live at the house off and on, but weren’t sure of his living situation at the time of Thursday’s attack.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Staff writer Alexis Krell and KIRO TV contributed to this report.