When the bodies of 89 year old Clements Dorsey and his 16 year old daughter Barbara Alexander were found in their burning home, one Houston police detective commented that 'it's obvious that someone was in a rage when they conducted this crime ... a lot of blood and evidence.'
George Parnham defended Andrea Yates, the Clear Lake mother who drowned her five children in the bathtub and was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. He called the murders of the reverend and his daughter tragic.
"It makes one very very sad. I remember reading about the case and I may missed it, but I didn't see anything in there about mental health issues. I had to find out through sources — that remained unnamed — that this attempt to get some help wasn't successful because we just didn't have the bed space. All the beds were taken."
The HPD Crisis Intervention Squad was called to the home before the tragedy, and after a thorough exam, determined that the young man was displaying psychotic behavior. But Parnham said CIRT determined that he would not be a threat to anyone, including himself:
"The officers, even though they have a great deal of expertise, they aren't crystal-ball-gazers. And everyone knows that the information that is obtained by the psychiatrist, and upon which the psychiatrist makes the determination the same as the police officer, is information from the patient. And because of the floored nature of mental illness, frequently an individual can present a non-danger presentation, and the next thing you know the manic portion sets in—boom, there we have it."
He says strides were made on the issue of mental health after the Andrea Yates trial, but believes state lawmakers need to approve more funding to meet and to address the mental health needs of our community.