7/28/2014

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Family outraged over mental health worker's murder

Family outraged over mental health worker's murder

ST. HELENS, Ore. – A year has passed since Jennifer Warren was murdered by a mental health patient she was trying to help.

Today, Warren’s mother and her family are outraged laws haven’t changed to protect other workers in the mental health field, nor that her daughter’s employer has made any safety changes. Warren’s adult daughter has filed a lawsuit against the state of Oregon.

Warren was killed after she had just stepped through a doorway at Columbia Community Mental Health to deliver medication to patient Brent Redd, who lived in a transitional housing apartment in St. Helens.

“I don’t think she saw it coming. In fact, I know she didn’t,” mother Theresa Armstrong said.

Redd grabbed a 12-inch knife, stabbing Warren.

Her mother is angry other workers are continuing to do the same job – alone.

“They said, ‘Well, this doesn’t happen,” her mother said. “Well, it did happen.”

Warren’s director at Columbia could not be reached for comment for this story.

Documents obtained by Armstrong show the organization now sends out other workers when a panic alarm is triggered. The alarm also alerts police if a worker is knocked to the ground.

Still, a state investigation revealed that it wasn’t clear whether additional staff members could have prevented Warren’s death. But the same investigation showed mistakes were made in handling the accused killer’s deteriorating mental state.

The report showed “critical gaps in how this risk information was communication” between Columbia and the Oregon State Hospital.

About the mistakes, Armstrong said: “I hope to God it doesn’t happen again.”

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