Less than four years ago, Daniel J. Neeley, a man with a long history of paranoid schizophrenia, entered a state psychiatric hospital after being found not guilty by insanity to killing his mother and shooting his sister in the chest and hand.
Bethany LaFountain, of Beavercreek, thought her brother would be locked away receiving treatment for a long time but now she and her husband, Chris, are fighting to make sure Neeley is not permitted to move to a less secure unit within Twin Valley Behavior Healthcare Hospital in Columbus.
“We thought he would be in a mental institution for 25 years. Now four years is here and we’re being told by his social worker that he’ll be out in a year or two,” said Chris LaFountain.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Kim Brown is scheduled on Thursday to consider a report on Neeley’s mental condition and a request to move him to a unit at Twin Valley that allows supervised off-campus outings.
The LaFountains are fighting the move. But Calvin Neeley – father of Daniel and Bethany – wants his son to make the move. “He is in excellent shape, I think. Most people who are against him haven’t seen him since he went in,” Calvin Neeley said. “If you haven’t seen him, you don’t know what’s going on.”
“He is living in a fantasy world that Daniel is going to get out and everything will be normal,” Chris LaFountain said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office will object to allowing Neeley to have off-campus outings. He said in an email: “In a homicide case where mental issues are at play the ability to compel continuation of medication is non-existent outside the facility and the risk if they fall off the wagon to re-offend is high.”
On Oct. 17, 2009, Chris and Bethany LaFountain and Julie Neeley visited 23-year-old Daniel Neeley at his Columbus apartment on the edge of the Ohio State University campus. Calvin Neeley, who had been attacked just months earlier by Daniel, stayed home.
Daniel Neeley, who had a seven-year history of serious mental illness, was off his medications. As soon as Chris went to the bathroom, Neeley grabbed a .22 caliber handgun from a kitchen cupboard and shot his mother in the chest and then his sister in the hand as she tried to apply pressure to Julie Neeley’s wound and then in the chest. Chris fled out the back door and called 911 and Neeley ran from the apartment but was arrested a short time later.
During his trial, attorneys on both sides recommended that Neeley be committed to a psychiatric hospital after psychologists agreed he didn’t know right from wrong at the time of the attack.
The LaFountains, who grew up in Beavercreek, say they’ll move away if it looks like Neeley will be released.
Chris is a commercial sales manager for a painting company while Bethany is the nurse at Beavercreek High School. Since the shootings, the couple have had a daughter and son.
“I understand he has an illness. I’d like to see him be safe. It’s not his fault he has a mental illness….I just don’t feel safe. I have a right to feel safe,” Chris LaFountain said. “I would not be surprised at all if he got out and had — I don’t know the terminology — a relapse and stopped taking his medicine and got violent in general.”
Calvin Neeley said he believes his son won’t be a threat as long as he is required to take medication and monitored by the state.
“He didn’t ask for this disease. Nobody does. Just because he has got it doesn’t mean he has to be condemned for the rest of his life,” Calvin Neeley said.
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