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Preventable Tragedies in MA due to Untreated Serious Mental Illness

Boston Area News reports

Over the course of the past four years, AOTNOW has tracked what we believe to be preventable tragedies here in Massachusetts. To date, we know of at least 50 such events taking place in the greater Boston area alone since the fall of 2019. These preventable tragedies involve individuals believed or known to be suffering from serious mental illness – an illness that has often gone untreated. In many cases, the result of entreated mental illness has proven deadly.

February 29, 2024, Mariam Dealmedia age-38 of Boston was arrested after robbing a bank in South Boston. Her boyfriend reported she had been in treatment and said, “She’s a good person. I don’t know, something just triggered her, but she doesn’t need to be in jail. Jail ain’t gonna help her,” Delmeida’s lawyer said she suffers from mental illness and addiction.


February 21, 2024, a 33-year-old man was arrested in Boston after pushing a 69-year-old victim towards the tracks at the subway station.


February 19, 2024, police received a call to perform a well-check on a Marshfield woman. 42-year-old Gina Martell exhibited delusional and paranoid behavior and attacked two officers with a ceramic figure injuring them. Martell has an extensive history, including multiple violent encounters with the police. She is known to conceal weapons within her clothes and body. 


February 16, 2024, Emmanual Lopes was found guilty of murdering Weymouth police sergeant and 77-year-old woman back in 2018. His mom reported that he had a long history of schizophrenia (his father and other family members had schizophrenia), slit his throat when he was in high school and she begged the hospital to keep him 4 weeks earlier. She was told that he reported not wanting to hurt himself or others thus he couldn’t be kept. This was a retrial after a mistrial over the summer when jurors could not agree on the verdict.


February 6, 2024, Joseph Hurley 62 of Danvers was arraigned in the hospital after allegedly shooting his wife 4 times and asking the judge if she was dead. He is being treated for undisclosed medical issues. His wife was in critical condition and Hurley was taken to the hospital for a wound on his chest that apparently was self-inflicted.


January 31, 2024, 44-year-old Jonathan Paluzzi was arrested after he allegedly tried to poison his dog with fentanyl before stabbing it to death. A judge ordered him to undergo a 20-day evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital to determine his criminal responsibility and competency to stand trial. Paluzzi's attorney said the case serves as "an example of why we need better mental health treatment and early intervention services.


January 20, 2024, 53-year-old Michael Ortega barricaded himself inside his Wilbraham home after suspect's daughter texted 911 fearing for her and her mother's lives. She reported that her father was threatening to shoot them. Gunfire was exchanged injuring a 29-year-old police officer. Ortega was found in the breezeway with gunshot wounds and transported to the hospital. Both the child and mother escaped without harm. It was reported that Ortega suffered from anger issues and depression.


December 29, 2023, A SWAT team was called to a Mattapan building hours before the man shot at firefighters. Officers were called and spoke to the man who was experiencing psychosis. The officers left when the man refused to come out of his apartment. 48-year-old Julius Allen Owens was arrested 8 hours later after shooting at firefighters when they were called to put out a fire in that building at which time Owens began shooting at them. He was arrested after jumping out a window, paranoid that people were chasing him.


December 27, 2023, a 21-year-old male was arrested in Cambridge after attacking his father and almost killing him. He was experiencing extreme bipolar psychosis, has a history of being homeless, released from programs on several occasions for non-compliance and refused services from DMH as he didn’t believe he was ill. Eleven months later the attack on his father took place and he is now at Bridgewater State Hospital. (Story reported by his Mother, this was considered a domestic violence incident and shielded from the media and public).


December 6, 2023, Samuel Patillo, 36 was pronounced dead after officers used pepper spray and tased him. Police were called to the Dedham home after a 911 call to alerted police that two family members had been stabbed. New reports indicated that Patillo was showing signs of mental and physical distress at the scene before being taken to the hospital.


November 8, 2023, Cheryl Rios, 50 years old of Stoneham, was arrested after stabbing her 81-year-old mother and adult daughter in their home. She was reported to be having a mental health crisis.

October 22, 2023, Aaron Pennington, 33 of Gardner, is wanted in connection with shooting his 30-year-old wife Breanne while his 4 children were in the house. Breanne’s aunt reported that Aaron was suffering from mental health issues and it was a failure of the mental health system.

June 25, 2023, Christopher Ferguson 41, allegedly killed three people in Newton. It was reported that he had been manic since February and had recently been discharged from the hospital despite family believing he was not stable. The family had repeatedly been trying to get Christopher help. He has a long-known history of bipolar disorder. 

May 28, 2023, April Monroe, 48, from Somerville was charged with strangling her mother. She had a known history of mental illness though not violence. She told police she found her mother with blood coming out of her mouth and then went to a club to listen to music.

May 14, 2023, 23-year-old Shawn O’Connell was shot by an Oxford Police officer when charging him with a sword. The officer encountered O’Connell at 6AM in the roadway with a sword in hand. 

March 15, 2023, 38-year-old Jonathan Pinney of Boston was arrested for attempting to lift his disabled wife out of a wheelchair and throw her into the Fort Point Channel. Pinney told officers that he believed his wife was an imposter and was attempting to dump her into the channel. He was sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for an evaluation.

March 13, 2023, Dion Pelzer whose last known residence was The Pine Street Inn was arrested after being called to Boston Medical Center for a disturbance. Pelzer is accused of slashing a stranger’s throat before eating the 75-year-old victim’s food and sleeping on his couch in the West End. Other reports indicate Pelzer has a long history of severe mental illness and has been seen wandering the streets.

March 9, 2023, Monica Velez-Carbello, 35 of Mattapan attacked a 13-year-old boy with a jagged can while he was waiting for a bus with his friends at Andrew Station. The woman was walking around the bus stop yelling obscenities and told police officers the boy threw a chemical on her face & it was burning though there was no evidence to support her claims.

March 5, 2023, Francisco Torres, 33 of Leominster was acting erratically on a plane from Los Angeles to Boston after attempting to open the exit door while in the air. He was speaking nonsensically threatening people and attacked a flight attendant with a spoon that was broken in half. Torres has a long-known history of mental illness.

February 5, 2023, Marianne Griffiths 56 of Easton was shot dead by police after her son called for a wellness check. Marianne has known mental health issues and suicidal ideation. Police had been to her house on previous occasions for threats of harming herself. She appeared in the doorway with what looked to be a rifle and was shot at that time. The gun was found to be a BB gun. Some believe the response was overkill with approximately 35 cruisers being sent to her street.

January 24, 2023, Lindsay Clancy of Duxbury was found in her home by her husband after jumping out a window. Her 3 children were found strangled. It is speculated that she was experiencing postpartum psychosis. This devastating tragedy should bring much needed awareness to the way other psychotic disorders are treated in Massachusetts. Current law is a barrier in getting medically necessary treatment for those most at risk.

December 27, 2022, Alexandra Eckersley gave birth in N.H. woods and left her newborn in a freezing tent. The family reports, “Allie has suffered from severe mental illness her entire life. Allie was hospitalized numerous times for her illness and lived in several residential programs. We did our very best to get Allie all of the help and support humanly possible. Once Allie became an adult there was even less we could do because she was legally free to make her own decisions as long as she was not a danger to herself and others. Under existing laws, there was simply no way to force her to receive treatment. Nonetheless, we continued to support her as best we could.” The family lives/lived in Massachusetts.

December 28, 2022, Latasha Sanders of Brockton was ordered to spend the rest of her life behind bars Wednesday, December 28, 2022 for murdering two of her children in 2018, an act of violence her family believes was caused by overpowering mental illness and a crime that led the sentencing judge to invoke the words of an ancient Greek poet. Sander’s mother told police that before the boys’ deaths, her daughter had become obsessed with the illuminati and ritual sacrifices. Her mother believed Sanders was mentally ill but said she refused to seek treatment.

December 27, 2022, in Dorchester, 45 year old Nikia Rivera set a triple decker house on fire. She told police that she “had to” light the house on fire, saying the house was haunted and that “The devil made me do it.” She also believed ghosts were in her house. Rivera was ordered to undergo evaluation at a state mental health facility in Worcester.

December 23, 2022, in Quincy, 18 year old Gustavo Woodward attacked a woman near the MBTA station and tried to remove her clothing. Woodward was hearing voices and had a history of bipolar disorder. He is being evaluated at Bridgewater State Hospital.

December 18, 2022, 35-year-old Brien Buckley of Cohasset was arrested after trying to cut through the front of the police station with a chainsaw after calling police and requesting that they watch his two children. He went back to his house and was dangling his children out the window. After an hours-long negotiation he was arrested and taken to Bridgewater for evaluation and is known to have a long psychiatric history.

November 30, 2022, Christopher Keeley 27 years old of Weymouth is a suspect in killing an elderly Marshfield couple and their dog. He was living with the couple. He is known to have a history of mental illness and prior involvement with the court.

September 30, 2022, in Truro, 34-year-old Adam Howe killed his mother and set her on fire. Police responded to a wellness check. Family reports he has known mental health issues. Adam was ordered for involuntary commitment by a Judge at 3am in the morning but was refused by Bridgewater State Hospital due to administrative errors (noted it needed to be a section 19). Adam was placed in Ash St. jail in New Bedford on 15-minute checks due to his suicidal risk and found dead. He clogged his nostrils and airways with wet toilet paper. Two lives tragically lost because of a broken mental health care system in Massachusetts.

March 15, 2022 in Boston, 23 year old Najee Herbert, stabbed his mother to death after an argument over a suicide note she found in his phone. Najee had no criminal record. He had self-inflicted wounds and was brought to the hospital. The judge has ordered Najee to be transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

February 12, 2022, in Lexington, a 35-year-old man belonging to a group home that housed those with mental illness was found in the driveway brandishing a knife. He did not follow commands to drop the knife. With bean bag projectiles being unsuccessful in stopping him, he was shot and killed by police.

January 23, 2022, in Burlington, 42-year-old Paul Courtemanche is in critical condition after being shot by officers outside of his apartment building. Officers responded to the apartment complex after the man called 911 reporting he was experiencing a mental health crisis. The man came outside wielding a knife refusing to drop it. He later died.

January 19, 2022, in Boston on Mass Ave. 39-year-old Carmen Polito of Brockton was chased by police while acting erratically and wielding a knife. He was chased by police and apprehended and is now facing two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon and one count of resisting arrest. Mr. Polito has known mental health issues and was found by police praying to the sky, speaking irrationally and had tried to carjack someone stuck in traffic.

December 14, 2021, The skeletal remains of Brad Cappucci, 33 years old were found in Darby Canyon, Wyoming. Brad, who suffered from schizophrenia, was last seen by his sister and mother in August of 2019 in a Massachusetts courtroom at a commitment hearing. Brad’s mother, sister, and a psychiatrist were fighting to have him held against his will for treatment. The judge didn’t find any evidence of violence, suicide or abuse thus denied hospitalization. He was released and this was the last time his family saw him. His remains were found by a hiker out with his dog in Darby Canyon where he had been living since mid-September.

December 2, 2021, in Somerville 28 year old Shakeel Bodden stabbed his sister’s 33 year old boyfriend to death. Bodden was acting very strangely looking at the victim as if he had done something wrong. The victim went downstairs to try and get away, but Bodden followed when a fight ensued. Bodden has a history of schizophrenia, was sectioned to a mental health facility in mid-November and released on Monday. 

November 26, 2021, in Winchester at Middlesex Falls Reservation, 28 year old Brady McCue attacked a women with a rock, raped her repeatedly, and left her for dead. Brady has a long history of schizophrenia and was followed by DMH. Brady was released from Anna Jaques Hospital on Monday before the attack and his father noted that he was starting to show signs of aggression on Thanksgiving Day.

November 9, 2021, in Dorchester 29 year old Nadeem Patrick struck a girl with a pipe before attempting to sexually assault her near a Dorchester school. He suffers from schizophrenia.

November 9, 2021, in Dorchester 37-year-old Dashaun Wright was involved in a standoff with police at his home. Three officers were injured and Dashaun was shot and killed. He was known to police and had a long history of mental illness.

August 14, 2021, in Saugus 38 year old Stephanie Gerardi was shot and killed by police when they were called to her house by a family member as she was experiencing a mental health crisis. She was “brandishing” a knife and had known mental health illness. Stephanie was described by a friend as “kind, sweet and loving”. She leaves two children behind.

June 21, 2021 in Springfield 43 year old Jose Montanez was exhibiting bizarre behavior waving a gun, fortunately police were able to intervene without anyone being hurt. Montanez is known to the criminal justice system with a criminal record and reports have indicated that his bizarre behavior was due to mental illness. This could have been a very tragic outcome; despite his multiple arrests he continues to be let back out on the streets. Untreated mental illness is a danger to the public, yet many are released back onto the streets without adequate treatment as Montanez has been in the past.

May 9, 2021, in Leicester 24-year-old Zachary Richardson drove his car into a police station. He was shot and killed. Zachary was known to have mental health and drug abuse problems.

March 4, 2021, in Haverhill 23-year-old Jake Kavanaugh attacked 54 year old Janet Blanchard and her 26 year old pregnant daughter while they were walking their dogs. He suffers from mental health illness.

February 8, 2021, in East Bridgewater 42-year-old Steven Walcott Jr. killed his father. He lived with bipolar disorder. His family repeatedly tried to get him help.

January 5, 2021, in Newton 28-year-old Michael Conlon was shot and killed by police when called to a candy store by the owner who was afraid when Conlon was trying to talk to her with a knife in hand. He suffered from known mental health issues and was off of his medications. Many described him as a “gentle giant”.

December 18, 2020, in Mashpee 26-year-old Andrew Bailey strangled and punched his mother killing her because he thought she was a spy. He had a history of mental health illness and had been recently released from the hospital.

December 10, 2020, in Middleborough Ryan True 21 years old with bipolar disorder brutally stabbed his parents. He lived with bipolar disorder and was off of his medications.

November 16, 2020, in Wayland Richard Kane Jr. 41 years old, killed his mother and took his own life. He battled mental health issues.

November 2, 2020, in Winchester Thomas Celona 35-year-old suffered from mental illness and was under the influence of drugs when police responded to a 911 call that two men had broken into his apartment. Officers heard furniture being tossed and forced their way inside, where they found Celona alone, stabbing a sliding glass door with kitchen knives. He did not respond to police instructions to put the knife down and was shot and killed. He was known by police officers and known to suffer from mental illness. He had been hospitalized just a week before for confused and bizarre behavior but was allowed to sign himself out. 

March 2020, John Brittan 27 of Amesbury killed his mother and injured his father after stabbing them. John suffers from schizophrenia telling police that his “alleged mother” had kidnapped and tried to poison him.

February 7, 2020, Juston Root 41-year-old who lived with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder was shot and killed by police in Boston while experiencing a mental health crisis.

October 24, 2019, Sean Murphy 21-year-old fatally stabbed his mother in their Plainville home. He heard voices in his head telling him to kill his mother. He believed the CIA and National Security Agency had planted devices in his head. Patrick Murphy, Sean’s Dad, described Sean as a supportive and empathetic peer counselor at college. Sean was a talented, intelligent writer who finished his four year bachelor’s degree in three years, was a nonviolent person and never had behavior problems. 



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