One father has gone through the unimaginable with his son -- and now he is offering him the truly divine. In February, Ronald Grow returned home to find that his troubled 19-year-old son, David, was sitting in the bathtub -- with his mother's intestines wrapped around his neck. He had flayed her open with a steak knife. David had recently been returned from a stay at a psychiatric facility. It was where his parents had wanted him to stay. David had been acutely psychotic for some time. But despite three different doctors saying that David was a risk for harming himself or someone else, a judge released him back into the care of his helpless family.
It was only 23 days later that David butchered his mom inside their bathroom. It was his dad who came home to find the horrific scene. It's also his dad who has been battling to keep David out of prison.
David has a long history of autism, mental illness, and hallucinations. I simply cannot imagine what his parents have been through in the course of raising him. You give birth to a child and you hope -- you assume, really -- that your child will be able to live their own life one day. That he or she will not have a severe mental impairment. But this is not always the case, of course.
Most children with autism don't go on to kill. But David sounds like he also had other mental problems -- he had hallucinations that a demon was trying to hurt the family and also heard voices commanding him to kill his mother.
Ronald has forgiven his son, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity of his mom's murder and will spend the rest of his life in a psychiatric facility. "That wasn't my son," he testified. "He was victimized by something that he had no control over." He also tried to make sure his son, who says he regrets killing his mother but doesn't seem to have any real memory of it, didn't continue to feel bad about it, telling him, "I’ve told [my son] before that his mother forgave him before she went to heaven."
He says his son is now on medication that makes him sleepy but more like the son he has always known. I'm just stupefied by what this family has been through, and what kind of a toll mental illness can take, and what it can make someone do.
I'm also stupefied by the judge who let David go home to his family despite three doctors petitioning to keep him in a facility. I don't know the full story of why she ordered him discharged -- especially considering it went against his parents' wishes -- but presumably she is aware of how awry that decision went and regrets it.
It's easy to stand up for your kids when they're getting straight A's and excel in life. But Ronald Grow has chosen to stand up for a son who killed his wife. That takes a special kind of courage.
Can you imagine being in this dad's position?
Image via WLNS