LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A tearful plea was heard at the state capitol from the family of a man killed in an adult family home after a patient was placed there by the Western State psychiatric Hospital. There is an effort to stop the facility from doing that.
"My father was recently a victim of murder from a patient that was released from Western State Hospital," said Freedom Nitschke. She told state senators about her father Tim who, Lakewood Police said, was attacked at an adult family home and perhaps hit in the face with a coffee mug by a man who had been at the hospital and known for violent behavior.
Nitschke died a few days later. His faced was crushed. "His face beaten," said Freedom fighting back tears. "His head collapsed in. That's not something that I need to remember my father by. This could have been avoided and it should have been avoided."
"What this bill seeks to do is stop the practice," said state Senator Steve O'Ban, R-Lakewood. His district has Western State Hospital in it and he said they have routinely been placing patients into Lakewood. The department of social and health services says the idea is to ease them back into society.
O'ban said many are too dangerous for that. "We warned the department this was going to happen and in fact it did happen and now we have a whole family that has been permanently impacted by this crime."
His bill would also prohibit sex offenders who are being released from McNeil Island from being placed in adult family homes. One family testified they didn't know that was happening.
"I was literally stunned to find out that my son could potentially be placed in an adult family home with a person who has a sexually violent predatory history," said Kelly Nesbitt.
But defense attorneys said these people can no longer legally be held. "In fact an adult family home may be for a particular person the best place for them," said Devon Gibbs. "The best likelihood of success and the least risk to the community."
The next step is for a vote in that committee perhaps as soon as next week. O'Ban said they shouldn't be going to these homes where vulnerable people live and he is going to be asking from more secure homes to be built by the state.