READ – Investigation into mental health worker’s murder, KGW.com
READ – Release Approved for Caseworker Slaying Suspect, AP.com
READ – St. Helens man accused of stabbing worker tried to strangle mom in 2005: ‘Go to sleep Mom, go to sleep,’ she told police he said, Oregonian.com
READ – Family of patient suspected of stabbing mental health worker raises concerns, KPTV.com
READ – POLICE: Mental health worker stabbed to death on visit with St. Helens client, South County Spotlight
READ – State Worker Dies After Stabbing By Mental Health Patient, OPB.org
READ – Mental health worker killed in apparent altercation with St. Helens man, St Helens Chronicle
Brent K. Redd Jr. seemed to be turning his life around. For a year, he lived in an apartment in St. Helens under the care of Columbia Community Mental Health.
He was taking his medication. He attended group therapy sessions five times a week. He saw his own therapist weekly and his caseworker checked in on him twice a day. He also attended three substance abuse meetings a week and passed drug tests weekly.
But Sunday morning, the 30-year-old man who was committed in 2007 for trying to strangle his mother was taken into custody in the death of Jennifer Warren, a 39-year-old mental health worker who delivered his medication.
Warren died from stab wounds to the chest, according to the state medical examiners office. Steve Salle, St. Helens police chief, said Redd suffered knife wounds to the neck and throat and was taken to a Portland hospital for treatment. When he’s recovered, he’ll be arraigned, likely for murder.
“It’s a very tragic situation,” said Mary Claire Buckley, executive director of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.
The killing stunned the board, which has had jurisdiction for Redd since he pleaded guilty except for insanity in 2007. Buckley said the board had no indication that Redd was not doing well.
“I’ve never had any concern expressed by his community provider about his performance,” Buckley said.
Since 1978, the board has supervised more than 1,400 people who’ve been found guilty except for insanity. Only 2 percent have committed new crimes.
Redd was born in Burley, Idaho, and grew up with two half brothers and a sister, said his paternal grandmother, Doris Stanger, who lives in Idaho. His parents, Brent K. Redd Sr. and Debra Redd, moved the family to Oregon when Redd Jr. was about 10 but Stanger said she and her husband would take the children for weeks at a time as the parents struggled.
She saw no indication that BJ — as Brent Redd Jr. was called — had mental problems when he was young. But he acted out as an adult. In 1999, he was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to a three-year probation term. His probation was revoked in 2001 for theft, vehicle theft, a drug charge and burglary.
Redd served nearly 2 1/2 years in prison, released in June 2004. The following year, he was living with his mother at her home in The Dalles. In August, he tried to kill her. Debra Redd said that she got up, made coffee and asked if he wanted some. He said no. Then, she sat on the sofa and turned on the TV. She told police he came over, sat down, turned the TV off and suddenly started choking her.
“Go to sleep Mom, go to sleep,” she told police he said.
She fought and managed to flee but he came after her. She passed out and was lying on the street, gasping for breath and with a bloody knee and elbow, when he caught up.
“Look at you; we need to get you help,” she quoted him as saying.
He told her voices in his head made him do it. He tried to pick her up but she ran to a neighbor’s home. When police arrived, Redd shot his hands into the air.
He mumbled to police that Mother Nature made him do it and in jail, withdrew into himself.
“He would sit in his cell and not communicate with anyone,” said Eric Nisley, Wasco County district attorney. But after being seen by medical staff, his condition improved.
“His mental status improved dramatically,” Nisley said.
He was eventually committed to Oregon State Hospital, under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.
Buckley said that in August 2010, hospital staff recommended that he be placed on conditional release. The board asked Columbia Community Mental Heath, which offers the services he would need, for a second evaluation. That agency agreed he was ready.
“They interviewed and agreed that he could be adequately controlled and treated in the community,” she said.
The agency reported to the board monthly on his progress. The reports said he was following the terms of his release.
News of the stabbing shocked Warren’s relatives. Shirley Warren, 33, Jennifer Warren’s younger sister, said she’s angry Columbia Community Mental Health allowed her sister to visit an unsecured residence on her own.
Corina Fesler, a 41-year-old mental health worked at the agency, had similar concerns. She too delivered medication to clients under the authority of the board.
“There’s been concerns all along that we go out and do this by ourselves,” Fesler said. “To me, this is kind of the final straw. It just made me sick, because it didn’t have to happen that way. If someone else could have been there, at least she would have had back up.”
Fesler quit on Sunday: “This just isn’t worth it,” she said.
After Warren’s killing, Columbia Community Mental Health told staff they could partner up when visiting clients in the community, an official said.
Monday afternoon, the agency issued a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends after this terrible incident. We are working closely with the proper authorities and have initiated an independent review to ensure the safety of our mental health workers.”
The Columbia County district attorney’s office is still trying to piece together what happened. But one person isn’t surprised by the attack — the Wasco County DA.
“That’s the nature of this guy,” Nisley said. “He’s very scary.”
Slain St. Helens mental health worker ‘took care of people who were struggling’
Jennifer Lynn Warren was killed three days before her 40th birthday, an hour into her Sunday shift as a mental health support worker for Columbia Community Mental Health.
The St. Helens woman who had struggled much of her young adulthood to overcome a methamphetamine addiction had spent the past 10 years giving back to the community, delivering medications to people with mental illness.
“She took care of people who were struggling and she loved them,” said her father, Kenny Warren Sr., 63. “What I taught my kids is helping others is more than any kind of money. I’ve lost an angel.”
Kenny Warren said he was readying to go to church when one of his daughter’s co-workers came to his home with his 22-year-old granddaughter, Jessica Warren. He sensed something was amiss.
The co-worker broke the news. “She said, ‘my daughter is dead,’ ” he recounted. “I think of myself as a strong person, but that just knocked me for a loop. I had to sit down. I felt very weak and dizzy.”
Jennifer Warren lived with a longtime companion and was engaged to marry him this summer. Besides her daughter, she had three sons, but had to give the boys up for adoption, relatives said. Relatives described her drug recovery as successful.
She spent Saturday jet skiing on the Columbia River with a friend, and reported to work by 7 a.m. Sunday.
Jennifer’s daughter, Jessica Warren, said she knew some of the people that her mom delivered medications to had been found guilty except for insanity of various crimes. “I was concerned about her safety. It was something that I brought up to her. But she loved her job,” she said. “My mother was very nice to these people. I don’t know what made the guy snap, but it was definitely out of the ordinary.”
Jessica Warren, who lost a brother to suicide last year and her father to suicide in 2001 (both not related to Jennifer), said she feels lost without her mom. “This isn’t the first tragedy in our family,” she said. “Hopefully, it will be the last.”
Co-workers were crushed by the news. Corina Fesler, 41, who like Jennifer worked as a community support specialist for the non-profit agency, said Jennifer Warren was warm and supportive to clients, and used humor to handle challenges.
When Jennifer Warren wasn’t able to work at one home because a client was having delusions about her, she took it in stride and worked elsewhere, she said.
“She was funny, outgoing,” Fesler said. If anyone needed help, Warren would step in, Fesler said. “I just can’t imagine. She left home yesterday morning to go to work and do her job.”
Amid their sorrow, there is anger.
“We know for a fact that everybody – when these people coming down off their medication, or are changing their medication, anything can happen,” Kenny Warren said. “So the administrators — if they don’t step up and take responsibility — they’re just as guilty as the man who did that.”