- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ordered a man who killed six members of a western Nebraska family nearly 40 years ago to remain in a state psychiatric hospital.

Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands ruled that Erwin Charles Simants will stay in the Lincoln Regional Center, the North Platte Telegraph reported (https://bit.ly/1C2nKbl ). Simants has lived at the Lincoln hospital since being found not guilty of the killings by reason of insanity in 1979.

Prosecutors say Simants shot and killed Henry and Audrey Kellie, their son David and three of their grandchildren in 1975 at the Kellies’ Sutherland home.

Doctors have testified for several years that Simants is no longer mentally ill and should be moved to a supervised home. However, both Simants’ attorney, Robert Lindemeier, and Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling said they have been told by regional center officials that there is nothing available in the way of alternative housing for Simants.

At Wednesday’s annual competency hearing, Rowlands ruled that Simants will remain at the Lincoln Regional Center.

“He will continue to be dangerous,” the judge said.

Rowlands also ordered the hospital to take Simants on at least two daytime outings per month, accompanied by a staff member or family member.

Audrey Brown, the daughter of Henry and Audrey Kellie, did not object Wednesday to Simants being allowed supervised outings. But she said the now 68-year-old Simants should never be released from confinement and she doesn’t believe he can be rehabilitated.

Brown, her husband and children had moved to Boulder, Colorado, three weeks before the Oct. 18, 1975, killings of her parents, brother, nieces and nephew. She said her father had paid Simants to help them move furniture. Two weeks before that, she said, her father had bailed Simants out of jail.

“I wish we had just left him there,” she said. “But my dad wasn’t like that.”

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Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, https://www.nptelegraph.com


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