- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Virginia has opened an investigation into the mental health evaluation of Gus Deeds, who underwent a psychiatric examination but was released just hours before attacking his father and then taking his own life early Tuesday.

Gus Deeds‘ father, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, was listed in good condition Wednesday at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.

G. Douglas Bevelacqua, who works on behavioral health issues in the office of the state inspector general, has confirmed that the office is investigating the release of Gus Deeds, 24, after an emergency custody order expired Monday.

“It would obviously be inappropriate to get ahead of it,” he said in a brief phone interview.

Gus Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation at a facility in Lexington but was released after a bed could not be found for him.

The emergency custody order allowed him to be held for up to four hours to determine whether he could be held longer under a temporary detention order.

Gus Deeds was released when no psychiatric bed could be located after eight hospitals were tried, Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge County Community Services Board, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

On Wednesday, Debra Thompson, a spokeswoman for Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, said there were available beds on Monday in the hospital’s inpatient unit.

However, Ms. Thompson said, the emergency team member on call that night “did not speak with anyone at the Rockbridge CSB” about an open bed.

At least two other facilities within an hour’s drive of Lexington — Western State Hospital in Staunton and the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville — had available space.

The Washington Post first reported the news about the three facilities.

More details about Tuesday’s attack also emerged Wednesday.

Mr. Deeds and his son had an altercation outside of his Millboro home and Mr. Deeds was stabbed multiple times in the head and torso, police said.

After the stabbing, Mr. Deeds walked down the hill from his house to Route 42, where he was spotted and picked up by a cousin driving along the road. The two drove to the cousin’s residence and called 911, police said.

After authorities arrived, Mr. Deeds was taken in an ambulance to a nearby relative’s farm and a medical evacuation helicopter.

Authorities, who responded at 7:25 a.m. to the 911 call, also found the young Deeds suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound. He died at the scene.

An autopsy confirmed the wound was self-inflicted and that the shot was fired from a rifle.

A weapon believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered from the scene, but the type of weapon will not be released until the Virginia Department of Forensic Evidence confirms whether or not it was used in the attack.

Police said the Bath County Sheriff’s Office responded to the residence at 26 Vineyard Drive on Monday to a “non-emergency call for assistance,” but that no arrest was made or any charges placed. Before Monday, the office has no record of any 911 or non-emergency calls to the residence.

Mr. Bevelacqua previously served as the state’s inspector general for behavioral health and behavioral services before the office was combined into the new IG office. His previous office issue a report last year that said 200 people were denied mental health treatment from April 1, 2010, through March 31, 2011.

A follow-up report from the state found that from July 15 through Oct. 13, 2011, temporary detention orders for 72 people in need of comprehensive evaluations to determine the proper levels of care were not executed.

“The 72 failed TDOs, who were denied admission to a state-operated hospital or a private psychiatric facility, may be Virginia’s ‘canary in the coal mine’ warning us that the system has yet to create sufficient community capacity to serve our neighbors and family members who, decades ago, would have been treated in state-operated behavioral health facilities,” the report says. “Without the clinical skill and dedication of … emergency staff, our most vulnerable neighbors — and our communities — would have doubtless experienced many tragic outcomes.”

News of the incident quickly spread beyond the borders of the commonwealth. Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, said on the House floor Wednesday he intends to introduce legislation next month “to fix the problems that have plagued the nation’s mental health system for decades.”

He said in 1955, there were 550,000 psychiatric beds and today there are fewer than 40,000, that the standard to make sure a mentally ill person gets treatment is unworkable, and that federal privacy laws make information-sharing in such cases difficult.

“We have to advance this so we have a key to unlock the door,” Mr. Murphy said. “I ask my colleagues to join me in working for these mental health reforms so that families can share the joy of recovery, instead of the sadness of loss.”

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