San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill today stressed that John
Patrick Bedell’s family was aware the 36-year-old was suffering
from mental illness and that they were attempting to get him
San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill today stressed that John Patrick Bedell’s family was aware the 36-year-old was suffering from mental illness and that they were attempting to get him help.
“The family was working with their son on mental issues,” Hill said at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the board of supervisors chambers.
Bedell’s parents reported him missing on Jan. 4 to the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office. According to the report, his parents had received a call from his cell phone from a Texas Highway Patrol officer who had pulled him over in Amarillo, Texas for speeding. The officer called the family because he said the car was in disarray. At the time, he was driving Westbound and was believed to have been on the East Coast, the sheriff said.
The officer said he was calling because he wanted more information on Bedell. The call prompted the parents to file the missing person’s report.
The sheriff’s department went to the family’s home, took down a description of Bedell and information about his vehicle.
Hill said Bedell’s parents said he had been committed for mental health treatment three or four times, though Hill stressed that Bedell had never been involuntarily detained by the local sheriff’s office. It is unclear if the commitments were voluntary or involuntary in other jurisdictions.
His mother also said Bedell had a medical marijuana card and appeared “to be impaired” when she talked to him on Jan. 10. Bedell was charged in Orange County in 2006 with possession of marijuana.
Bedell’s mother also noted that she saw an online posting, Hill said from what he believed was an online bank account, that on Jan. 10 Bedell made a $600 purchase at a shooting range in the Sacramento area. It is not clear what he purchased. Hill said there is a 15-day waiting period to purchase a firearm in California.
On Jan. 18, Bedell’s father called and said his son had returned home.
“He said to go ahead and cancel the missing person’s report,” Hill said. “They’d had a short exchange.”
Bedell told his father he was home, but not to ask where he had been, according to the report. The sheriff’s department closed the case.
“First and foremost, this is a terrible tragedy,” Hill said. “My organization is concerned about our brother officers in Washington, D.C. [In law enforcement] you go to work and kiss your family goodbye and hope you will see them again.”
Hill stressed that the sheriff’s department does not have any information on Bedell’s actions or whereabouts after Jan. 18.
“The tragedy is that with mental health issues, the family was struggling with it,” Hill said. “It is devastating that this family was attempting to try to help their son through issues to prevent these types of behaviors.”
Hill added that law enforcement officers across the United States deal with mental health issues all year long. About 30 members of the local and national press were present at the press conference.
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