ST. HELENS, Ore. - A mental health worker was killed on Sunday while delivering medication to a man in St. Helens.
The crime happened around 8 a.m. in the 200 block of South 15th Street at a home that is run by Columbia Community Mental Health.
The suspect, who is in custody, lives there. Police identified him as 30-year-old Brent Redd. Investigators say Redd stabbed Warren to death and then called 9-1-1 to report what he had done.
Redd himself was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. Police did not say whether he had hurt himself or had possibly gotten injured during a struggle with Warren.
Evidence technicians recovered a knife later in the day that they believe was the murder weapon. At this point, police do not know what led to Redd's actions.
"No, we really don't,' St. Helens Police Chief Steve Salle' said. "The investigation is focusing on not only what happened, but why it happened."
Those who live nearby told us the neighborhood is a peaceful one and this is the first sign of violence they have seen. "Yeah, this is a quiet place," said Patrick Birkle.
We spoke with Columbia Community Mental Health's director, Roland Migchielsen, by phone and he told us he has never seen something like this happen in his 25 years of working in mental health.
Migchielsen said Warren had worked for Columbia Community Mental Health for a decade as a support worker who made sure clients had their medications and other needs taken care of. She made home visits to check on them and he said it was not unusual for her to be doing so on a weekend.
"She was a real good worker," Migchielsen said. "We had her for 10 years and this is a devastating loss."
We asked Migchielsen about the suspect (pictured at right), but he said he could not give us any information due to confidentiality laws. At this point Redd will remain hospitalized at least through Monday and then he may face charges.
Former employees of Columbia Community Mental Health that we talked to said they believe mental health workers should not be alone when checking on patients who are living in the community.
"They should double them up," said Jerome Fesler, whose wife was delivering medication to the suspect just a few weeks ago before she quit over concerns for her safety. "They should have someone else. They should be working in pairs, plain and simple. You know, two people is always better than one. You've got someone there that if something does happen, they can call for help."
We spoke with family members of the suspect and they said he had complained to mental health workers that his anti-psychotic and anti-depression medication was being reduced in preparation for a planned surgery.
Redd's family also told us that he had been in prison and institutionalized for trying to kill his mother and that he should have been under closer supervision, not out in the community, especially if his medications were being cut back.
Statement from Columbia Community Mental Health
Jennifer Warren died today after receiving injuries on her job as a mental health worker. She had worked for Columbia Community Mental Health for 10 years. The incident occurred during a scheduled visit with CCMH client Brent Redd in St. Helens.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer's family and friends after this terrible incident. We are working closely with law enforcement and will also jointly launch a swift and thorough independent investigation to ensure the safety of our mental health workers who are on the front lines every day," said Roland Migchielsen, Executive Director of Columbia Community Mental Health and Mary Claire Buckley, Executive Director of the Psychiatric Security Review Board in a joint statement.
Migchielson added, "Jennifer was an excellent and kind mental health worker who served her community well. She was widely respected by her co-workers and clients."
Redd has been under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board since April 2007 after pleading Guilty Except for Insanity for attempted murder of a family member. He was sentenced to the PSRB for 20 years. He began serving his term at the Oregon State Hospital where he remained until September 2010 when he began receiving local community treatment through conditional release under the jurisdiction of the PSRB.
"Public safety is the first concern of the Psychiatric Security Review Board," said Buckley. "Today's tragic incident is the first time in 34 years when any client under the Board's jurisdiction has been alleged to have committed a violent act of this nature."
There are currently 615 individuals under the Board's jurisdiction with 415 under conditional release in the community. Since 1978, the Psychiatric Security Review Board has supervised more than 1,400 individuals who have been found guilty except for insanity with a recidivism rate of 2 percent.