Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

June 23, 2012

2002 The Raymond Wood Case, Warrensburg, MO

The Raymond Wood Case
Synopsis of the Case: The Johnson County Missouri prosecutor in Warrensburg, Missouri, has charged Raymond Wood with five counts of capital murder. Ray is accused of intentionally murdering his wife and four oldest children on February 14, 2000. He is further charged with aggravated battery on his two youngest children who survived.

The following appears courtesy of the 2/16/00 online edition of The Kansas City Star newspaper:
Warrensburg tragedy leaves town in shock
By TANYANIKA SAMUELS and LYNN FRANEY - The Kansas City Star Date: 02/16/00
WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- As Maj. Randy Vick drove down a rural highway Monday morning, the words of the 911 dispatcher echoed in his head: A family had been shot at 75 Southeast 501 Road. It hit him: He knew this family, the Woods, from church. Pulling his Johnson County sheriff's car onto the gravel driveway, Vick saw Raymond Wood standing calmly, his parents nearby. Vick ordered his friend onto the ground, and a deputy handcuffed him. Before the day ended, Raymond Wood would be charged in the deaths of his wife and four of their children. He made his first court appearance Tuesday. Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Wood said he was just "starting to understand what happened." Twenty-four hours earlier, it was becoming all too clear to Vick exactly what had happened. He saw Jared, 10, lying face down just outside the Woods' below-ground home. Joshua, 8, lay on a nearby hill. Inside, Vick found the baby, 1-year-old Catlin, toddling around in bloodied clothes. On the floor lay her sisters, Emily, 7, and Moriah, 3. Back outside the home, Vick saw their 31-year-old mother, Tina Wood, inside the family van, which had crashed into an embankment. Raymond Wood's father, Gerald, told Vick that 5-year-old Hannah was missing. Vick went back into the house, where he found her curled up underneath a bed, lying on a blanket. He felt for a pulse.
There was none.
"It was horrible," Vick said, "as horribly shocking as anything could be." Deputies took Raymond Wood to the Johnson County Jail. He later was charged with killing Tina Wood and four of their children: Jared, Joshua, Emily and Hannah. He also was charged with assaulting the two other children, who survived. Wood, 36, was formally charged Tuesday morning with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and seven counts of armed criminal action. A public defender was appointed for him. He was subdued, answering just "Yes" or "No" to most questions from Associate Circuit Judge Stephen Angle. He was taken to the courtroom in a black-and-white striped jumpsuit, orange slippers, a bulletproof vest and shackles. Wood will return to court this afternoon, when his attorney will be present. "My wife is innocent," Wood said as he left the courthouse Tuesday. Outside the courtroom, he also told reporters: "My children are innocent and beautiful." 
He is being held in the Johnson County Jail on $2 million bond. Authorities said Wood, who went through bouts of crying Tuesday, was being watched closely because authorities feared he might attempt suicide. The two surviving children were still being cared for late Tuesday at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Moriah was in critical condition, and Catlin was in fair condition, a hospital spokesman said. The two children were placed in the custody of the Missouri Division of Family Services. A division official said the children would likely live with relatives or a foster family after leaving the hospital. The family's home is in unincorporated Johnson County, about four miles east of Warrensburg. There, they lived just yards away from Wood's parents, Gerald and Carol. The children's maternal grandparents live in Alaska, where Tina and Raymond Wood both grew up, relatives said. The Woods had lived outside of Warrensburg for about 12 years, Vick said. He said he saw the Wood family every Sunday at a Restoration church in the area.
Restoration churches are an offshoot of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When the RLDS church began ordaining women, some church members broke off to start their own congregations, called Restoration, church officials said. The Woods spent much of the week at their new house, an "earth contact" home they completed last year. Vick said Raymond Wood didn't want to live in traditional house because he was afraid of tornadoes. Raymond Wood worked with his father in a chimney repair business, and Tina Wood home-schooled the four older children. 
"Tina was a wonderful mother, very talented," Vick said. "She taught them everything, piano, singing." Tina Egan Wood, who graduated from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, also taught piano to neighborhood children. Carol Wood did not want to talk about the killings Tuesday afternoon. "We can't do anything now to make it better," she said. "We still have two grandchildren, and we're going to concentrate on them." The Star's Donald Bradley and The Associated Press contributed to this report. The following appears courtesy of the 2/15/00 online edition of The KTUU-TV, local Anchorage, Alaska NBC-TV affiliate station web site:
By Laura Tanis
Former Alaskan accused of killing family
Anchorage, Feb. 15- A former Anchorage man charged with killing his wife and four children in Missouri apparently had a history of mental problems. RAYMOND WOOD, 36, WAS ARRAIGNED in a Missouri courtroom on five counts of murder Tuesday. Chained in handcuffs, authorities led him to the courthouse, while reporters tried to make sense out of Monday’s tragedy. “My wife’s innocent,” Raymond told reporters. “She’s beautiful. That’s how much I’ll say at this time.” Wood’s wife, Tina, and four of their children, Jared, Joshua, Emily and Hannah, ranging in age from 5 to 10, were found shot to death at their Warrensburg home. An infant and a 3-year-old were wounded in the attack, but they are both expected to survive. Wood’s wife was a former resident of Fairbanks and Anchorage. Neighbor James Williams helped Wood build his underground house. He says Wood often talked about the end of the world. But Williams and others can’t believe it ended like this for five members of the Wood family. According to an Anchorage Times newspaper article, Wood had a history of mental problems. About 15 years ago, he was taken into custody, after breaking into a Midtown home and getting into a brawl. After telling police he was God and could make himself invisible, Wood was committed temporarily to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. When asked by a reporter if he understood what happened Monday, Wood answered, “I believe I’m starting to understand.” What’s not clear is whether Wood understood what was going on at the time of the murders. Wood faces 14 criminal charges. He’s being held on $2 million bail. 

Ex-Alaskan deemed unfit to undergo trial for murder of wife, four children
Posted: Thursday, March 02, 2000
WARRENSBURG, Mo. - A former Anchorage resident charged with the fatal shootings of his wife and four children last month has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Raymond Wood was ordered held at a state mental hospital indefinitely by an order Wednesday issued in Johnson County Circuit Court.

Wood was charged with the deaths of his wife, Tina, 31; her sons Jared, 10, and Joshua, 8; and daughters Emily, 7, and Hannah, 5, on Feb. 14. Two other daughters were wounded, and one remains in the hospital.

Tina Wood was from Fairbanks and still has family there. She and her husband lived in Anchorage before moving to Missouri about 10 years ago.
Raymond Wood was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and seven counts of armed criminal action.
A review of his condition is to be done in 120 days. Wood had a history of mental illness. In 1985, he was committed to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute after he reportedly broke into a home and later got into a brawl after forcing motorists off a city street. He was taken to API after telling police he was God and could make himself invisible.
Wood appeared dazed as he was arraigned last month and said that he was just ``starting to understand what happened'' the night he allegedly killed his wife four children.
Tina's mother, Cheryl Egan of Fairbanks, told reporters Wood suffered from mental illness and the violent acts he allegedly committed were at odds with the man she knew.
``I know her husband didn't mean to do what he did,'' Egan said through tears. ``He was ill.''
Wood offered no explanation for the shootings.
Following arraignment, Wood was ordered held on $2 million bond and sent to the hospital for a mental evaluation.

Prior to February 2000, Ray had a 15 year history of mental illness and was diagnosed with schizoaffective, bipolar type. For the past three years, he has continued to receive care for his mental illness at a maximum security mental hospital. Two days after the homicides, on February 16, 2000, Ray was involuntarily committed to Fulton State Mental Hospital.
He is still in the facility being treated for schizoaffective, bipolar disorder. As of May 2003, Ray's brain continues to unpredictably fluctuate between reality and non-reality.
UPDATES: The Raymond Wood Capital Murder Case
Case Summary: The defendant in this case has a 19-year history of severe mental illness.
On February 14, 2000, he allegedly killed his wife and four children. The evening of the homicide, the prosecutor and the sheriff made the decision to send in the defendant’s minister (also a deputy) to interrogate this clearly mentally ill individual. The prosecutor and the sheriff sent in another deputy to break any ministerial confidentiality the defendant had with his minister.
Trial Court Ruling: For the defendant.
The trial judge found the defendant was severely mentally ill at the time of the interogation. In suppressing any statements the defendant may have made, she concluded:
(1) "Certain interrogation techniques . . . are so offensive to a civilized system of justice that they must be condemned. Such interrogation techniques, applied to the unique characteristics of the Defendant, exist in this case."
(2) "Suppressing the defendant’s statement in this case, would serve the purpose of enforcing the constitutional guarantees and substantially deter future violations of the constitution by law enforcement officers and prosecutors."
Judge Cook found that
(1) Ray was severely mentally ill and psychotic at the time of the interrogation.
(2) Sheriff Heiss and his deputies knew Ray was severely mentally ill, was on psychiatric medication, had been committed in the past, and was asking for the help of his ministers.
(3) Prosecutor Young, Assistant Prosecutor Gibson, and Sheriff Heiss knew Major Randy Vick was Ray’s chief spiritual advisor and Ray viewed Vick as his "helper."
(4) Sheriff Heiss, Prosecutor Young, Asst. Pros. Gibson recognized the potential legal conflict with Vick serving as interrogator.
(5) Prosecutor Young and Assistant Prosecutor. Gibson "intentionally sought to circumvent any possible claim [by Ray] of ministerial/penitent privilege by sending" another deputy into the interrogation room with Vick.
(6) Ray was never asked if he understood Vick’s role, and actually stated "Randy, I knew you’d come here to help me."
In the weeks prior to the homicides, Ray’s mental state greatly deteriorated. Ray and his wife sought medical help for Ray from a local Warrensburg mental health clinic 3 days before the homicides. The clinic sent them home with medication, and without a recommendation for hospitalization.
For almost 4 years, Ray has been hospitalized at Fulton State Mental Hospital under court order.
Procedural History: This case has not been to trial.
The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant’s suppression motion.
The state appealed the trial judge’s order suppressing an alleged statement made by the defendant at the time of his arrest.
The trial judge allowed a special appeal on the suppression issue.

Missouri Court of Appeals,Western District.

STATE of Missouri, Appellant, v. Raymond E. WOOD, Respondent.

No. WD 63266.

Decided: March 23, 2004

Before RONALD R. HOLLIGER, P.J., ROBERT G. ULRICH and JAMES M. SMART, JJ. Mary A. Young, Warrensburg, MO, for Appellant. Thomas J. Jacquinot, Cynthia L. Short, Kansas City, MO, for Respondent.
This is an interlocutory appeal by the State of Missouri from the order of the trial court suppressing the statement given by Raymond Wood to law enforcement officials after his arrest for shooting his wife and their six children.   Mr. Wood's wife and four of the children were killed;  two of the children survived.   The State contends that the trial court's finding of coercive police conduct was not supported by substantial evidence and was against the weight of the evidence.   It further argues that the trial court misapplied the law in focusing on Mr. Wood's mental condition as a significant factor in determining the voluntariness of his statement.   The order of the trial court is affirmed.
On the morning of February 14, 2000, the Johnson County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call reporting a shooting at a rural Johnson County home.   The caller, Carol Wood, Raymond Wood's mother, told the 911 dispatcher that her son had told her and his father that he had shot his family.   Mrs. Wood also told the dispatcher that her son was mentally ill and had been on medications for a few days.   Law enforcement officers responded to the home and found that Tina Wood and her six young children, Jared (10), Joshua (8), Emily (7), Hannah (5), Moriah (3), and Katlin (18 months), had been shot.   Mrs. Wood and the four oldest children were dead.   The two youngest children, although seriously injured, were alive.   Raymond Wood was arrested at the scene and transported to the Johnson County jail at approximately 9:45 a.m. He was booked around noon.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Mr. Wood was interviewed for approximately forty-five minutes by two members of the Sheriff's Department, Major Randy Vick and Detective Gary Klote.   Detective Klote had never met Mr. Wood before that day.   Major Vick was a personal friend of Mr. Wood's and a lay minister at his church.   The officers wore plain clothes, not uniforms.   Mr. Wood was introduced to Detective Klote and acknowledged that he knew Major Vick. The officers advised Mr. Wood that they wanted to speak with him as law enforcement officers.   The officers then advised Mr. Wood of his Miranda rights and provided him a Miranda waiver form to sign.   Mr. Wood acknowledged that he understood his rights, and he signed the waiver form agreeing to talk to the officers without an attorney present.
Major Vick then asked Mr. Wood what had happened.   Mr. Wood calmly gave a recitation of the events of the morning.   He explained that he shot his wife three times.   Then, realizing that the children would suffer from losing their mother, he shot each child one time.   Mr. Wood further stated that after shooting his family, he shot himself.   Mr. Wood lifted his hair from his forehead, and the officers observed for the first time abrasions and gunpowder burns on his forehead.
During the course of the interview, Mr. Wood referred to the “turmoil” he had been experiencing in the days preceding the shootings, and he talked of the “snares” in his head and of “too many ensnaring thoughts.”   Toward the end of the interview, the officers asked Mr. Wood if he would give a written statement, but he declined.   Mr. Wood's demeanor suddenly changed, the interview was terminated, and Mr. Wood was returned to his cell.
Two days later, on the morning of February 16, after an altercation at the jail between Mr. Wood and three jailers that resulted in Mr. Wood being restrained in a chair, the Sheriff's Department contacted Pathways Community Health Services in Warrensburg for a mental health evaluation.   As a result of the evaluation, Mr. Wood was involuntarily committed to a state mental hospital, a commitment that was continuing at the time of the suppression hearing.
In February 2003, Mr. Wood filed a motion to suppress the statement he gave law enforcement officials on the evening of his arrest.   He argued, inter alia, that the statement was involuntary based on his history of mental illness;  his mental illness exhibited on February 14, 2000;  and the coercive conduct of the police in choosing an interrogator who, in addition to being a police officer, was Mr. Wood's minister and close personal friend.
A hearing was held on Mr. Wood's motion.   Following the hearing, the trial court entered its order finding, inter alia, that Mr. Wood's February 14, 2000, statement was involuntary based on the use of coercive governmental conduct in obtaining the statement.   Specifically, the court found that law enforcement officials knew, at the time Major Vick and Detective Klote interrogated Mr. Wood, that Mr. Wood was mentally ill and had been treated with psychiatric medication;  that he had a history of mental illness and had been previously committed due to the condition;  that Mr. Wood was deeply religious;  and that he trusted Major Vick, a minister in his church and a personal friend, and looked to him as a “helper” due to his position in the church.   Thus, the trial court suppressed the statement.   This appeal by the State followed.
Standard of Review
Review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress is limited to determining whether the evidence is sufficient to support the ruling.  State v. Carter, 955 S.W.2d 548, 560 (Mo. banc 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1052, 118 S.Ct. 1374, 140 L.Ed.2d 522 (1998);  State v. Trenter, 85 S.W.3d 662, 668 (Mo.App. W.D.2002);  State v. Taber, 73 S.W.3d 699, 703 (Mo.App. W.D.2002).   The trial court's ruling will not be reversed unless it is clearly erroneous.  Trenter, 85 S.W.3d at 668;  Taber, 73 S.W.3d at 703.   A ruling is clearly erroneous if the appellate court is left with a definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made.  Id. In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, the facts and any reasonable inferences arising therefrom are viewed in a light most favorable to the ruling.   Carter, 955 S.W.2d at 560;  Trenter, 85 S.W.3d at 668;  Taber, 73 S.W.3d at 703.   Deference is given to the trial court's factual findings and credibility determinations, but questions of law are reviewed de novo.   State v. Rousan, 961 S.W.2d 831, 845 (Mo. banc 1998), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 961, 118 S.Ct. 2387, 141 L.Ed.2d 753 (1998);  Taber, 73 S.W.3d at 703.
Points on Appeal
 In its two points on appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred in suppressing Mr. Wood's statement to police.   It claims that the trial court's finding of coercive police conduct was not supported by substantial evidence and was against the weight of the evidence.   It further argues that without coercive police conduct, the trial court misapplied the law in focusing on Mr. Wood's mental condition as a significant factor in determining the voluntariness of his statement.
 When a defendant challenges the admissibility of a confession on the ground that it was involuntary, the burden falls upon the state to prove voluntariness by a preponderance of the evidence.  Rousan, 961 S.W.2d at 845.  “The test for voluntariness is whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the defendant was deprived of free choice to admit, to deny, or to refuse to answer and whether physical or psychological coercion was of such a degree that the defendant's will was overborne at the time he confessed.”  Id. Factors to consider in reviewing the totality of the circumstances include whether the defendant was advised of his rights and understood them, the defendant's physical and mental state, the length of questioning, the presence of police coercion or intimidation, and the withholding of food, water, or other physical needs.  Id.
 A deficient mental condition alone does not render a confession involuntary.  Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 166-67, 107 S.Ct. 515, 520-21, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986);  State v. Brown, 998 S.W.2d 531, 547 (Mo. banc 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 979, 120 S.Ct. 431, 145 L.Ed.2d 337 (1999);  Rousan, 961 S.W.2d at 845;  State v. Bittick, 806 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Mo. banc 1991).   Instead, coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to a finding that a confession is not voluntary.  Connelly, 479 U.S. at 167, 107 S.Ct. 515;  Rousan, 961 S.W.2d at 845;  Bittick, 806 S.W.2d at 658.
In this case, sufficient evidence was presented to support the trial court's ruling that Mr. Wood's confession was the product of coercive government conduct.   The evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling revealed that Mr. Wood had a history of mental illness, he exhibited signs of mental illness on the day of the shootings, the Sheriff's Department was aware of Mr. Wood's struggle with mental illness at the time of the interrogation, the Sheriff's Department knew that Mr. Wood was a deeply religious man, and the prosecutor and Sheriff's Department selected Mr. Wood's personal friend and minister in his church, Major Randy Vick, to elicit a statement from him.
Specifically, the record showed that Mr. Wood has struggled with and has been hospitalized several times for mental illness since 1985 and that the Sheriff's Department was aware of Mr. Wood's struggles.   During one incident in 1990, the Sheriff's Department was summoned to Mr. Wood's home in Warrensburg.   Major Vick responded to the call and found Mr. Wood mentally unstable.   Mr. Wood was “very incoherent, ranting one moment, calm the next and singing the next.”   Major Vick placed Mr. Wood in protective custody.   Later that day, a mental health evaluator found that Mr. Wood was not oriented to person, place, or day and that he was agitated, psychotic, delusional, and paranoid.   As a result, Mr. Wood was involuntarily committed to a state mental hospital where he was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia.
The Sheriff's Department again responded to the Wood's home in 1997 when Mrs. Wood reported her husband missing.   Mr. Wood, who was described in the missing person report as mentally disabled, was found later that day by Highway Patrol officers walking around in a daze.   Mr. Wood was again hospitalized as a result of the incident.
The evidence also revealed that Mr. Wood exhibited signs of mental illness on February 14 prior to and during his interrogation and that the Sheriff's Department was aware that Mr. Wood may have been suffering from mental illness that day.   During the 911 call that morning, Mr. Wood's mother, Carol Wood, told the dispatcher that her son was mentally ill and that he had been on medications for his mental illness for the last few days.   Later that afternoon at the hospital, Carol Wood told Major Vick that her son went to the mental health clinic and was prescribed medication three days earlier, on February 11, 2000.1  Officers also interviewed and took the statement of Mr. Wood's father, Gerald Wood, that afternoon at the hospital.   Gerald Wood told officers that his son came to their house that morning just after 4:00 a.m. He was depressed and agitated.   His son told him that he felt the devil was in him and that he wanted the elders to come and cast it out.   He also told his father that he had thought about shooting his wife and himself.   Eventually, after calming down, Mr. Wood returned to his home.   Later that morning, shortly after 8:00 a.m., his son came back to their farm.   He was very upset.   He told his parents that he had shot his family and that he thought some of his family members might still be alive.   He also asked his father to shoot him.
Additionally, a medical questionnaire completed during booking noted that Mr. Wood suffered from mental illness and psychiatric disorders, had a history of mental care, and was under the influence of prescription drugs.   Records from the jail log indicated that prior to the interrogation, officers observed Mr. Wood in his cell crying, moaning, pacing, and laying on the floor in a fetal position. He was also observed on his knees with his face on the floor screaming, “Oh God,” “What have I done?” and “Oh Ma.” Later, officers checked on Mr. Wood, who was coughing heavily, and he charged towards them.   The sheriff testified that he received updates throughout the day from the jailers regarding Mr. Wood's condition.   Finally, Major Vick testified that Mr. Wood's demeanor on the day of the shootings was similar to his demeanor at the time of his 1990 psychiatric commitment.
In addition to the evidence of Mr. Wood's struggle with mental illness, the evidence revealed that Mr. Wood was a deeply religious man and that he had a personal and priestly relationship with his interrogator, Major Vick. Major Vick testified that he had known the Wood family for fourteen to fifteen years.   He described his relationship with the Wood family as “good friends.”   He also testified that he and the Wood family had attended the same church, the Church of Jesus Christ, Warrensburg Restoration Branch, for the past eight to ten years.   Major Vick also served as a priest in the church.   His duties as a priest were “to preach, teach and expound and to minister to families in the branch.”   He also, along with elders in the church, administered to the sick and needy.
Major Vick explained that as a member of the same congregation and in talking with Mr. Wood's wife and parents, he became aware of Mr. Wood's struggle with mental illness.   He was aware that priests and elders in the church had been occasionally called upon to administer to Mr. Wood due to his mental illness.   Major Vick testified that as a priest, he, himself, had counseled Mr. Wood spiritually many times over the years and that he had preached during church services that were attended by the Wood family.   Just six months before the shootings, Major Vick visited the Wood home along with an elder from the church to administer to Mrs. Wood. Mr. Wood was present during the visit.   Major Vick further testified that he knew religion and the church were very important to Mr. Wood and that Mr. Wood was very dedicated to the church.   He also stated that he knew his position as a priest in the church was important to Mr. Wood and that Mr. Wood looked up to him as a priest in the church and saw him as a helper.
With knowledge of Mr. Wood's mental illness and of the importance religion played in his life, the sheriff and Major Vick met with the prosecutor and an assistant prosecutor prior to the interview to discuss whether Mr. Wood would talk to Major Vick. Major Vick testified that he believed he was chosen to interrogate Mr. Wood because of their relationship as friends, his position as priest in Mr. Wood's church, and the belief that Mr. Wood would talk to him.   The sheriff testified that, at the time, he recognized the potential problems with Major Vick acting as Mr. Wood's interrogator. He also admitted that he knew Mr. Wood believed he was possessed by the devil and had asked for the assistance of ministers prior to the shootings.   Although Major Vick's function at the Sheriff's Department was mainly administrative, the prosecutor ultimately decided that Major Vick would conduct the interview.   A decision was also made to have a second officer, Detective Klote, present during the interview in order to “destroy” any claim of minister/penitent privilege.
During the course of the interview, Mr. Wood referred to the “turmoil” he had been experiencing in the days preceding the shootings, and he talked of the “snares” in his head and of “too many ensnaring thoughts.”   At one point during the interview, Mr. Wood said to Major Vick, “Randy, you showed up to help, just like you did before, to help me.”   Neither officer corrected Mr. Wood's misperception.   Major Vick testified at the hearing that during the interrogation, he had concerns as to whether Mr. Wood understood that he was acting in his capacity as a law enforcement officer rather than as a minister and whether Mr. Wood was in touch with reality.
 [C]ertain interrogation techniques, either in isolation or as applied to the unique characteristics of a particular suspect, are so offensive to a civilized system of justice that they must be condemned under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Miller v. Fenton, 474 U.S. 104, 109, 106 S.Ct. 445, 449, 88 L.Ed.2d 405 (1985).   Such is the case here.   Knowing that Mr. Wood had a history of mental illness, that he was probably suffering from mental illness on February 14, and that he was deeply religious, law enforcement officials' decision that Major Vick, Mr. Wood's personal friend and spiritual advisor, would act as his interrogator constituted coercive police conduct.   By strategically selecting Major Vick to interrogate Mr. Wood, when he would not otherwise have been the interrogator, for the explicit purpose of exploiting the pastoral relationship existing between Major Vick and Mr. Wood, particularly knowing of Mr. Woods questionable ability to discern reality, the trial court could reasonably conclude that the State transgressed the boundaries of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.
Sufficient evidence supported the trial court's ruling suppressing Mr. Woods' statement to law enforcement officials, and the ruling was not clearly erroneous.   This court is not left with a definite and firm impression that the trial court made a mistake.   The order of the trial court is affirmed.
1.   On February 11, 2000, three days before the shootings, Mr. Wood sought help for depression at Pathways.   Tina Wood, who accompanied Mr. Wood to Pathways, reported that her husband had been suffering from symptoms of restlessness, decreased appetite and sleep, and withdrawal from the family.   The evaluators observed that Mr. Wood was very sad and slow in speech.   They diagnosed Mr. Wood with major depression recurrent and prescribed anti-depression and anti-psychotic medications.
HOLLIGER, P.J. and SMART, J., concur.

The ongoing aftermath
When Carole and Jerry Wood realized two of their children had severe mental illness, they did their best to help. Today, one son lives in recovery. The other is in Fulton State Hospital after a tragedy destroyed his family. Carole and Jerry still try to move forward.
By Christie Megura
WARRENSBURG — Car­ole Wood used to worry about a dan­ger­ous train cross­ing near her home. She wor­ried for her chil­dren’s safety. Today she real­izes she knew noth­ing about the most dan­ger­ous and dev­ast­at­ing force in her sons’ lives. She de­scribes how men­tal ill­nesses brought con­sequences that she and her hus­band are still cop­ing with today:
A roost­er crows as Car­ole and Jerry Wood sip cof­fee at their kit­chen table one morn­ing this spring. The day is wak­ing on the couple’s 99-acre farm just out­side of War­rens­burg in west-cent­ral Mis­souri.
A black cat stretches out on the roof. Chick­ens cluck in the front yard. New­born twin calves tuck against their moth­er in a pen be­hind the house.
It’s the per­fect place for grandkids. And six of them used to come, al­most every day, from their par­ents’ house a quarter mile down the gravel road.
Jared. Joshua. Emily. Han­nah. Mori­ah. Kat­lin.
Car­ole Wood would chide them not to leave their bikes and toys scattered across the lawn.
Today she would love to have them back.
Some­times, with help and per­sever­ance and maybe a bit of luck, severe men­tal ill­ness gets prop­erly treated over time. Some­times help comes too late, after a rifle fires and a fam­ily is torn apart.
Car­ole and Jerry Wood have walked both roads.
Sam, the couple’s 46-year-old ad­op­ted son, has schizo­phrenia. After a life of battle with crime, wan­der­ing and home­less­ness, he now has a stable, in­de­pend­ent life in Montana.
Ray, the couple’s old­est bio­lo­gic­al child, who is 48, has been dia­gnosed with schi­zoaf­fect­ive dis­order. For the last 12 years, he has lived in Fulton State Hos­pit­al after be­ing charged with killing his wife and four of his six chil­dren.
For more than 25 years, Car­ole and Jerry tried to nav­ig­ate the com­plic­ated and of­ten opaque world of men­tal health to find help for their sons. For the first time, they have agreed to speak at length about how men­tal ill­ness – and the in­tric­ate sys­tems that sur­round it – changed their lives forever.
In one case, the sys­tem even­tu­ally worked.
In the oth­er, it failed.
A hope­ful be­gin­ning
Jerry and Car­ole met on a blind date in early 1959 when he was home in In­de­pend­ence, Mis­souri for a week­end from the U.S. Air Force. They went to a pro­duc­tion of “The Tam­ing of the Shrew” in Kan­sas City.
“As soon as I saw her, I knew I’d marry her,” Jerry says now. “I knew it, I just knew it. And I told her so.”
After the play, they went out for cheese­cake. Every year since, on Feb. 20, they try to have cheese­cake.
For the next two years, they wrote al­most daily or saw each oth­er on Jerry’s leaves, then mar­ried in 1960. They moved a lot be­cause of Jerry’s mil­it­ary post­ings. Their first son, Ray, was born in 1963 in Altus, Okla.
They wanted more chil­dren, but had trouble con­ceiv­ing. So in Janu­ary 1966, when they were liv­ing in North Dakota, they ad­op­ted a 4 ½-month-old boy. They named him Sam. They knew very little about his bio­lo­gic­al par­ents or back­ground.
Six years later, they ad­op­ted a daugh­ter, Jenny. Not long after, Car­ole learned she was preg­nant. Mar­garet was born in 1972.
After Jerry left the mil­it­ary in 1969, the fam­ily moved to Alaska, where Jerry got a job fly­ing planes. The Woods didn’t plan to stay more than a few years. Then the troubles with Sam began.
One son struggles, one steps up
Sam was a quick learner. He crawled at 6 months and walked at 9. On his first birth­day, he ate his chocol­ate cake without drop­ping a crumb. Des­pite the years of trouble that were to come, Car­ole and Jerry re­mem­ber him as a kind, in­tel­li­gent baby.
He was just 4 when the mis­chief star­ted. Odd items – things that didn’t be­long to him – ap­peared in the house. One day, Car­ole found a pack of ci­gar­ettes in Sam’s pock­et.
Maybe it was a phase, the Woods thought. With prop­er dis­cip­line, Sam would learn right from wrong.
But when he was 9, fire de­part­ment of­fi­cials came to the Woods’ house to say Sam had star­ted a small fire in the nearby woods. In middle school, he began skip­ping classes, burg­lar­iz­ing homes and nab­bing cars for joy rides.
Car­ole and Jerry put Sam in a be­ha­vi­or modi­fic­a­tion pro­gram; Car­ole would track his good and bad be­ha­vi­or on a chart taped to the re­fri­ger­at­or. They tried fam­ily ther­apy, but it didn’t seem to help. Some psy­cho­lo­gists im­plied Sam’s be­ha­vi­or was the res­ult of bad par­ent­ing.
No one ever sug­ges­ted his is­sues were linked to men­tal ill­ness. Even if they had, the Woods say today, they might not have been able to ac­cept that. And after all this time, and all they’ve been through, they say they still don’t know to what de­gree, if any, men­tal ill­ness played in Sam’s ac­tions dur­ing his youth.
What they do know is how his be­ha­vi­or ra­di­ated through the fam­ily. Mar­garet would leave her purse hanging on the doorknob and later real­ize money was miss­ing. The fam­ily star­ted hid­ing their be­long­ings.
“Dur­ing this peri­od of time, you’re still try­ing to main­tain a nor­mal house­hold,” Car­ole says. “You have this de­term­in­a­tion that things are go­ing to be nor­mal for the oth­er chil­dren. At the same time you’re try­ing to work with him and make things right with him.”
Sam was 14 when he was ar­res­ted for try­ing to rob a per­son at knife­point. He was sent to a ju­ven­ile de­ten­tion and treat­ment cen­ter in An­chor­age. He spent four years there and com­pleted eighth grade, but nev­er at­ten­ded a real high school or earned a GED. He was re­leased on his 18th birth­day – now a leg­al adult.
Sam de­cided to take off on his own. There was noth­ing his par­ents could do to stop him.
“We fi­nally de­term­ined that we didn’t have the an­swer to Sam,” Car­ole says. “We wer­en’t really be­ing help­ful to him any­more.”
As Sam be­came more re­bel­li­ous and un­pre­dict­able, Ray de­veloped in­to the pro­tect­ive, ser­i­ous older broth­er. He watched over Jenny and Mar­garet when his par­ents were pre­oc­cu­pied with Sam. From an early age, he demon­strated an im­press­ive work eth­ic.
Ray was just 5 when his par­ents agreed to pay him 10 cents for each pick­et he painted on the fam­ily’s fence. He earned enough to pur­chase his own bike. As a teen­ager, there was noth­ing he liked more than auto­mo­biles. He saved up his money to buy a plum-crazy Dodge Su­per Bee. As much as he loved that car, he drove a more prac­tic­al car to his track, wrest­ling and swim­ming prac­tices.
“Ray is prob­ably one of the finest people you’d want to meet,” Car­ole says. “He really is. He’s a fine and gentle and kind per­son. A really good per­son. And every­body that knows him, works with him, feels that way about him.”
New starts – and shock­ing set­backs
Sam was two years gone when Car­ole and Jerry Wood de­cided to leave Alaska. They had fam­ily in Mis­souri, and were mem­bers of the Re­or­gan­ized Church of Je­sus Christ Lat­ter Day Saints, which had a com­munity near In­de­pend­ence.
Car­ole and Jerry had al­ways dreamed of own­ing a farm. So when a 160-acre prop­erty came up for sale near War­rens­burg, they packed up with Jenny and Mar­garet, and moved to Mis­souri.
Ray was 22 at the time. He wanted to join them on farm someday, but stayed be­hind in Alaska for a job and a girl­friend, Tina Egan.
Not long after Car­ole and Jerry moved, they re­ceived the shock­ing news that Ray was in the Alaska Psy­chi­at­ric In­sti­tute. He had had a men­tal break­down and was dia­gnosed with atyp­ic­al psy­chos­is. It was Decem­ber of 1985.
To this day, Car­ole and Jerry won­der what triggered the in­cid­ent. Ray seemed fine just a few weeks earli­er. Maybe it was the paint fumes Ray was ex­posed to at work? More than 20 years later, they know they’ll nev­er know.
What they didn’t know at the time was that Ray had pre­vi­ous struggles he he hid from them. It wasn’t un­til dec­ades later that he told them he ex­per­i­enced emo­tion­al dif­fi­culties after re­turn­ing from a trip to China with some friends, but with­drew and dealt with those is­sues privately.
At the time, they thought Ray’s break­down was an isol­ated in­cid­ent. They fo­cused on help­ing him move for­ward – an in­stinct that was re­in­forced when, on May 23, 1987, Ray mar­ried his girl­friend, Tina.
Newly mar­ried, Ray and Tina packed their be­long­ings in­to a truck and moved to War­rens­burg. At first they lived in Car­ole and Jerry’s base­ment. Ray and his fath­er es­tab­lished a chim­ney clean­ing busi­ness. Ray drove school buses to make ex­tra money. He was 26 when his first child was born.
Car­ole re­mem­bers the ten­sion wait­ing for the birth. A crowd of re­l­at­ives and friends gathered as Tina pre­pared to de­liv­er the baby in the down­stairs tub, then cel­eb­rated the baby’s first cries. Jared was wel­comed in­to the fam­ily. Ray proudly em­braced the role of fath­er.
Ray, Tina and Jared moved in­to a trail­er on Car­ole and Jerry’s prop­erty. They wanted to add to their fam­ily and needed ex­tra space.
Car­ole and Jerry hoped Ray’s fo­cus on fam­ily would keep him stable. What warn­ing signs they re­mem­ber were minor – oc­ca­sion­al mood swings, trouble sleep­ing.
Yet Ray’s ill­ness was tak­ing hold again. He had a second men­tal break­down in 1990. He was ad­mit­ted to West­ern Mis­souri Men­tal Health Cen­ter in Kan­sas City. He had pre­vi­ously been dia­gnosed as bi­polar, but now was dia­gnosed with chron­ic para­noid schizo­phrenia.
Al­though the dia­gnoses and treat­ments would change over the next 10 years, Car­ole and Jerry had to face the fact that Ray’s prob­lem in Alaska wasn’t a one-time event. Their son suffered from men­tal ill­ness that eluded a cer­tain iden­ti­fic­a­tion – and a cer­tain cure.
At times, Ray sunk in­to phases of re­mote de­pres­sion. At oth­er times, he felt good and was, as his par­ents say, on fire. His en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion were un­stop­pable. He was re­lent­less in pur­suit of his goals.
One of those goals was to raise a large fam­ily. Between 1989 and 1998, five more chil­dren were ad­ded to the fam­ily.
The couple and their six chil­dren even­tu­ally moved in­to a house that Ray built a quarter mile away from his par­ents.
Tina home-schooled the chil­dren. She taught mu­sic les­sons and passed on her mu­sic­al tal­ent to her kids. She could com­pose mu­sic on the pi­ano and play in­stru­ments like the cla­ri­net, flute and gui­tar with ease. Her chil­dren would line up and sing to­geth­er in their home and at church.
When Ray felt well, he was the act­ive fath­er his par­ents fondly re­mem­ber. He would race the kids down the drive. Some struggled to ped­al fast enough on their bikes while oth­ers took off on foot. Ray would take the fam­ily camp­ing. He liked to lift his chil­dren up and hold them in his arms.
“Really, when things we right, there was no hap­pi­er fam­ily,” Jerry says. “They played, they worked, they did everything to­geth­er.”
“For lack of know­ledge”
Car­ole and Jerry re­mem­ber the warn­ing sign: Ray’s beard. When he went from clean-shaven to scruffy, trouble was com­ing.
When that happened, they would sit with him for hours. They could see he was afraid when his ill­ness was over­power­ing, when it caused him to lose his sense of self.
“Learn­ing by ex­per­i­ence is no way to learn how to deal with men­tal ill­ness,” Jerry says. “One thing we learned, and learned it late, is when someone is hav­ing a break­down you can­not talk reas­on (to them). And you need to get ex­pert help.”
But back then they didn’t know where to turn. Des­pite the many trips to clin­ics and hos­pit­als, neither Car­ole nor Jerry re­mem­ber be­ing told about edu­ca­tion­al classes or oth­er sup­port re­sources.
Look­ing back, they some­times won­der if their ef­forts to help just en­abled their son’s ill­ness. Dur­ing man­ic stages, Ray would ob­sess over pro­jects. When he de­cided he would build his fam­ily’s home, he simply marched out to the spot with noth­ing but a shovel, ready to dig. Jerry couldn’t stop his son when he was like that, so picked up some tools and lent a hand.
Oth­er times Ray would be­come para­noid about evil thorn bushes or an­im­als. He would throw magazines to the ground at the mar­ket be­cause he didn’t like the faces on the cov­ers.
“It was like he was los­ing him­self,” Car­ole says. “And that’s what was scary.”
For all the trouble Car­ole and Jerry had ex­per­i­enced with Sam, Ray’s be­ha­vi­or was something they had nev­er en­countered.
“When I look back on that, I don’t know,” Car­ole says. “I think … how did we not see it?”
The doc­tors wer­en’t much help. Ray’s med­ic­al re­cords were private. By law, doc­tors couldn’t dis­cuss his con­di­tion with his par­ents without his con­sent. So the only people who had full ac­cess to dia­gnoses and ad­vice were Tina – who was pro­tect­ive of Ray and seemed to be in deni­al about his ill­ness – and Ray him­self.
The law also pre­ven­ted Ray from be­ing in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to a hos­pit­al un­less he was deemed a dir­ect phys­ic­al threat to him­self or oth­ers. He was hos­pit­al­ized after his ma­jor break­downs in 1985 and 1990. There were oth­er times the fam­ily was able to con­vince him he needed in-pa­tient treat­ment. But he al­ways had the right to check him­self out. He nev­er ac­cep­ted that he was men­tally ill. Once he sta­bil­ized, he wanted to be home with his fam­ily.
“What good does it do to ex­plain all this to a per­son who is men­tally ill, doesn’t be­lieve he’s men­tally ill, and then they send him home?” Car­ole says.
Car­ole and Jerry now mar­vel at their own ig­nor­ance and deni­al about their old­est son’s struggles. They wer­en’t re­search­ers with soph­ist­ic­ated know­ledge of the med­ic­al sys­tem. They were fo­cused on caring for their fam­ily and main­tain­ing nor­malcy on the farm.
With the wis­dom of hind­sight, Jerry says this: “The scrip­ture, you know, says, ‘for my people are des­troyed for lack of know­ledge.’ And I can sure agree with that.”
A fragmented life
As Ray’s prob­lems grew at home, Sam was jump­ing trains or tak­ing buses across the coun­try. Some­times he stayed in pris­on or halfway houses. Oth­er times, he slept on the street.
The de­tails of those years are lost to Car­ole and Jerry. What frag­ments of know­ledge they had are scattered in a red ad­dress book that Car­ole stores in the kit­chen.
The book has been used so much that the bind­ing has fallen apart and the pages are turn­ing yel­low. Each page is cramped with scribbles that show Sam’s con­fus­ing mi­gra­tion. Car­ole and Jerry would re­ceive oc­ca­sion­al phone calls that helped them piece to­geth­er parts of his life. A name here. A state there. Texas. New York. Cali­for­nia.
“It’s like watch­ing the death of your child,” Car­ole says. “To see Sam go­ing off in­to bad path­ways, and to real­ize he would nev­er be the kind of per­son we thought he was.”
Car­ole spe­cific­ally re­mem­bers one call.
Sam was on the line, telling her there was a man with him, a man who had been with him for most of his life. Car­ole asked Sam to de­scribe the man.
What did he look like? What did he act like?
Sam had no an­swers.
At first, Car­ole couldn’t un­der­stand how someone from Sam’s child­hood – someone she didn’t re­mem­ber – could be with him now. Then she real­ized: there was no man. It was all in Sam’s mind.
It would be sev­er­al more years be­fore Sam was of­fi­cially dia­gnosed with schizo­phrenia. But the red ad­dress book shows how many ques­tions about his life were nev­er answered. Like how Sam man­aged to get So­cial Se­cur­ity be­ne­fits, or how and when he found his way in­to the men­tal heath sys­tem to get help.
“It’s a mir­acle he sur­vived,” Car­ole says.
Both of Car­ole’s boys were wrest­ling with forces bey­ond their con­trol.
One was lost, some­where miles away.
The oth­er was just down the gravel road.
Valentine’s Day hor­ror
The news broke and quickly spread. From an NBC sta­tion’s web­site in Kan­sas City:
A wo­man and her four chil­dren are found shot to death in their home early Feb­ru­ary 14 near War­rens­burg, Mis­souri. Two oth­er chil­dren from the same fam­ily, a girl in­fant and a three-year-old girl were also shot. They were trans­ferred to Chil­dren’s Mercy Hos­pit­al and of­fi­cials there said they are both ex­pec­ted to live.
Twelve years have passed. But Car­ole and Jerry still don’t un­der­stand.
Jerry’s sunny dis­pos­i­tion fades. His eyes be­come a vivid blue as the tears form. He presses his weathered hands against his mouth. He can’t bring him­self to speak.
Car­ole cries and shakes her head. Her voice gets low as she pre­pares to re­mem­ber.
It happened on Valentine’s Day, 2000.
Ray had not slept well for days. Car­ole and Jerry knew he needed help. Early that morn­ing, they con­vinced him to come to their house, away from the chaos of the kids, to try to get some rest.
But Ray wouldn’t stay in bed or sit still. He paced frantic­ally.
“We were afraid for him,” Car­ole says. “We wer­en’t afraid of him.”
Ray de­cided to go back to his house, back to Tina and the chil­dren. But he re­turned not long after. He came run­ning, not on the gravel road but through the fields. He jumped fences and ran in a straight line to­ward his mom and dad.
Car­ole in­hales. Her words come out in a whis­per. Pain and dis­be­lief mark her face. She re­peats what Ray told Jerry that morn­ing:
“Daddy, Daddy. I shot my fam­ily.”
Car­ole’s voice shakes as she re­calls what happened next. Des­per­a­tion when call­ing the po­lice. Shock when ar­riv­ing at the scene. Empti­ness when it was all over.
Tina, 31, Jared, 10, Joshua, 8, Emily, 7, and Han­nah, 5, were found dead when po­lice ar­rived. Mori­ah, 3, and Kat­lin, 1, wounded, were rushed to the hos­pit­al.
Ray was forced to the ground.
Car­ole and Jerry watched as their loved ones were taken away, one by po­lice, the oth­ers by am­bu­lances.
Ray was charged with five counts of first-de­gree murder, two counts of first-de­gree as­sault and sev­en counts of armed crim­in­al ac­tion. The case nev­er went to tri­al be­cause he was ruled in­com­pet­ent due to men­tal ill­ness. He was com­mit­ted to Fulton State Hos­pit­al — the old­est psy­chi­at­ric hos­pit­al west of the Mis­sis­sippi River.
Fight­ing for what was left
Car­ole and Jerry spent much of their time after the shoot­ings in the hos­pit­al, wait­ing, pray­ing for Mori­ah and Kat­lin to sur­vive.
Emma Jo Cool, a long-time friend from the couple’s church, saw the im­pact of the tragedy. Jerry be­came ill with grief. Car­ole was dev­ast­ated. The en­tire con­greg­a­tion felt per­son­ally af­fected by the loss. But Car­ole and Jerry drew on what strength they had to fo­cus on Mori­ah and Kat­lin.
The grand­par­ents wanted guard­i­an­ship of the girls, and they wanted the room to be ready.
Vo­lun­teers from the couple’s church came to the farm in the weeks that fol­lowed. They ren­ov­ated a room of the house, adding pink car­pet and flor­al wall­pa­per.
But the girls nev­er came.
In­stead they were moved to Alaska to live with Tina’s sis­ter. Car­ole and Jerry were denied vis­it­a­tion rights.
In time the TV trucks with the big, white satel­lite dishes stopped com­ing by.
The meals sent from friends stopped, too.
The farm fell quiet.
A hard-fought sta­bil­ity
Sam now lives in Billings, Mont. He de­clined a re­quest for an in­ter­view, but his par­ents speak to him al­most daily by phone, and try to vis­it once a year.
They say Sam is tak­ing care of him­self, sup­por­ted by a com­munity of friends and cowork­ers. He does a vari­ety of out­door jobs like mow­ing lawns and rak­ing leaves. He doesn’t own a car, so uses a bike to get around. He is di­li­gent about tak­ing med­ic­a­tion for his men­tal ill­ness be­cause he doesn’t want to go back to pris­on. He has a pre­scrip­tion to own a cat be­cause his doc­tor says it’s a good source of ther­apy.
As happy as Car­ole and Jerry are that Sam is in­de­pend­ent and stable, they can’t help but com­pare his situ­ation to Ray’s.
“I al­ways thought, and it’s a ter­rible thing to say, but I al­ways thought that it was kind of a bless­ing that (Sam) nev­er got mar­ried or had chil­dren,” Car­ole says.
One lost, one saved
For a few years after the shoot­ings, Car­ole and Jerry would call Mori­ah and Kat­lin and send birth­day pack­ages. But the girls’ guard­i­an even­tu­ally stopped tak­ing their calls, and they lost touch.
The girls turned 16 and 14 this spring. The grand­par­ents sent cards, hop­ing they would be de­livered. They hope one day, when the girls are old enough, they will reach out.
It can still be hard for Car­ole and Jerry to see oth­er chil­dren. The kids in their church who were their grandkids’ ages have trans­formed in­to young adults. It makes them think of what their four lost grand­chil­dren could have be­come. Jared, the first grand­child and the one who would drink tea with Grandma in the quiet af­ter­noons, would have been 23 this year.
Ray re­mains in Fulton State Hos­pit­al. Doc­tors have tried dif­fer­ent med­ic­a­tions and ther­apies, but his par­ents say he is still un­able to com­pre­hend that he has a men­tal ill­ness. He is still con­sidered in­com­pet­ent to stand tri­al for the charges brought against him.
Car­ole and Jerry say Ray has nev­er denied the shoot­ings. But he be­lieves it was evil, not ill­ness, at work.
Car­ole and Jerry drive to Fulton every Wed­nes­day to see him. They say he is com­fort­able – fa­mil­i­ar with the fa­cil­ity and the people in it. He has some re­cord­ings of Tina play­ing the pi­ano; it’s his fa­vor­ite mu­sic. For a while he had a fa­vor­ite shirt, one of his that Tina used to wear. Ray wore it so of­ten in Fulton State that he fi­nally gave it to his par­ents to keep for fear he would wear it out.
Car­ole re­mem­bers a con­ver­sa­tion they had dur­ing one vis­it.
“He said he just wanted to be happy again, to know what be­ing happy was like,” she says. “I don’t think Ray will ever know that. Not in this life. Be­cause he’s lost everything that he loved.”
Car­ole and Jerry say Ray is the biggest vic­tim of the tragedy that be­fell their fam­ily.
They still live on the farm. They love the land and their neigh­bors. They feel es­tab­lished in the com­munity. They see their daugh­ter’s chil­dren. They have their routine.
Car­ole passes Ray and Tina’s house in the morn­ing when she takes the dogs out to run. It still sits empty.
Dur­ing the day the couple drinks cof­fee in their kit­chen. There are pho­tos framed across the walls and on the fridge. One of the pho­tos shows six smil­ing chil­dren squeezed in around their par­ents. Ray’s plaid shirt and the girls’ flowered dresses look out­dated, their smiles frozen in time.
It is a re­mind­er of what has been lost.
A red ad­dress book sits on a shelf in the kit­chen. It’s used less these days. Sam is happy, stable and no longer on the move.
It is a re­mind­er of what has been saved.

On February 14, 2000 my sister, Tina Wood and four of her six children were murdered in Warrensburg, MO. The perpetrator, Raymond E. Wood, is scheduled to go to trial on June 9, 2003. We have waited three years to have closure to this heinous crime. The Prosecutor, Mary Ann Young, has informed us that the likelihood of this case going to trial in June is slim. In March or April of 2000, the honorable, Jacqueline A. Cook, ordered an independent mental evaluation of Raymond. Dr. Jerome Peters examined Raymond and the results of his evaluation were given to the Prosecution and Defense early in of November 2002. The dilemma this family is facing is that Dr. Peters was an active member of the National Guard. A few days after his report was released, he was called to active duty, and was sent to the Middle East. What, if anything, can our family do to ensure that this doctor will be there for the trial in June? I have drafted a letter that I am going to send out to the senators of Missouri where the crime was committed, and also the senators of Alaska where I reside. It is my hope that someone will be able to pull strings to have Dr. Peters given a week or so of leave so he can testify in this case. Do you have any other suggestions that may be helpful in our plight? We just want closure. The defendant is mentally competent to stand trial. It is my biggest fear that if this doesn't go to trail soon, Raymond will have a relapse and thus the vicious cycle will repeat itself and we will never get closure. Thank you for your attention in this serious matter.
There is not a whole lot that can be done. The defendant has a right to have the testimony of the doctor.

No comments: