I’ve passed on a few stories from those caught in these proactive stings. Like my son, a LOT of these people are mentally impaired at the time of their arrest – but here’s a real slap in the face for those of you with proud military backgrounds. (I’m speaking to you Sally!!)
This is a TRUE story with changed names.
September 25 th , 2018. The day I had been dreading but a day I always knew would likely come at some point. My husband finally had a terrible psychotic break. How I wish I would have seen it coming but I didn’t really notice the signs.
Let me back up and explain how, what, and why.
In June 2005, my husband, Jake, was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was shot in the back by a sniper while on a mission. He had to be resuscitated twice and lost several inches of intestine.
Eventually he was transferred from the field hospital in Iraq to a hospital in Germany and finally back to Georgia where he was stationed. He was put on convalescence leave to recover and eventually went back to work as part of their rear detachment which is basically a fancy term for a handyman. The men who were recovering did general maintenance of their unit including painting and mowing the grass.
Needless to say, Jake became bored pretty quickly with the lack of action (not that he could have gone back to Iraq as he had to learn to walk again and had a fist sized hole on the right side of his abdomen where the bullet exited when he was shot). Back then, the army was still figuring out how to really treat these guys who came home with these life altering injuries and Jake was prescribed countless amounts of painkillers which he liked to combine with his growing love of alcohol.
This is where I, Sarah, come into the picture. I met Jake a few months after he was shot. He still had a great big hole in his stomach and was walking with a cane. We met at a bar/club in Savannah in August 2005, shortly after I graduated nursing school. I was intrigued by his injuries, not initially believing he had been shot because I just assumed he had consumed too much alcohol. (I was right, he HAD consumed too much alcohol the night I met him, but low and behold, he really had been shot!)
Something clicked and we got married 10 months later.
We are still married nearly 13 years later.
Soon after Jake and I got married and more so while I was pregnant with our daughter, I realized that he was exhibiting some signs that he may possibly be suffering from PTSD. He was also dependent on alcohol and of course the pain killers that the army tossed his way like candy. I gave him an ultimatum and demanded he get help. He was diagnosed with PTSD in January of 2006 but hadn’t really received treatment for PTSD for about a year. He went to alcohol dependency classes, weaned off the prescription pain killers, and was put on a variety of medications to help his PTSD.
Fast forward to 2008. Jake had gone through reclassification schooling which basically means that he would have a different job in the army since he was no longer eligible to be an infantryman. He was then stationed in New York where we were living our lives pretty easily. Our daughter was as spoiled as any child and we were happy, yet PTSD was always there in the background. There were times where Jake would low crawl through the house, shielding himself from enemy fire. He would remove our daughter from her crib and put her in various places ie: the closet, the bathroom, etc to “keep her safe.” He has ripped mirrors off walls because he can’t stand to look at himself, among other things.
In July 2008, Jake had his first true psychotic break while having an argument with his mother. The arguing got to him and he broke. He was able to get an emergency appointment with his psychiatrist where his medications were readjusted.
His second psychotic break came in 2010, third in 2012. In 2009, Jake medically retired from the military because he was unable to carry a combat load, therefore he was unable to be deployed. He was, however, offered a great job with the army, and worked for the from 2009-February 2019.
Life moved on with PTSD always being a huge catalyst in our lives. There have been countless medication changes (because with Jake, a medication works for awhile but then he builds a tolerance, and bam, there we are, back at step one with how to treat this terrible condition), vacations missed/postponed, dinners out with friends we couldn’t attend, countless movies that we wanted to take our children to, that ended up not happening because Jake can’t tolerate certain situations and his PTSD is exacerbated by crowds and not being in control of what happens. We of course had some great memories as a family of 4 (we welcomed our second baby girl, born healthy, in 2011) but if Jake didn’t have PTSD, there would be a million more memories.
PTSD affects my family EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
PTSD even affected the type of nursing I practiced. I became a mental health nurse, but was unable to keep working because Jake was so unstable for so many years, I stayed home to make sure he was ok.
Fast forward to September 2019. I asked Jake a few weeks prior to his incident if he had an appointment with the VA anytime soon because I felt as though his medication was starting to slip. He also had started drinking again, although I didn’t realize really how MUCH he was drinking. I was busy being a mom and running a volunteer youth sports program. I lost site of my husbands needs, and that is something I regret every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
Between the time that Jake retired from the military and September 2019, he earned his bachelors and master’s degree in computer forensics along with many different computer related certifications. His most prized certification was his ethical hacker certification. He also taught college classes online as an adjunct professor. In 2018, he started working on his PhD. In computer forensics.
Life was busy. I wish I would have seen it coming.
September 25 th . I was supposed to go to the gym with my best friend and then onto my girls’ sports practice. Jake was supposed to take our younger daughter to dance class while I was at the gym. He never came home. He was always home, always 100% on time for his family.
He never came home.
Our friends were out looking for him in ditches and calling hospitals. I checked our gun safe, fearing that he had gone and done something to himself, because suicide thoughts are unfortunately a huge part of PTSD. I filed a missing persons report about an hour and a half after he should have been home. Finally, I got word that he had been arrested. The relief was overwhelming. My husband was alive. But what did he do?! He had never been in any type of trouble before except a few speeding tickets.
“Ma’am I hate to be the one to tell you this but your husband has been arrested for trying to have sex with an underage girl.” The emotions that soared through me are indescribable. It was the most horrific moment of my life. Then I started to think. There is no way in hell that Jake would ever have solicited an underage girl on purpose. Was he trying to cheat on me? What was going on? Jake didn’t call that night. Also, completely uncharacteristic of this man that I know so well.
I called the jail countless times because he had medication that he HAD to take for his PTSD. The guards were extremely rude and even questioned why I called to speak to the nurse so many times. That’s when I started to get pissed. Regardless of what my husband did or did not do, he did not deserve to be treated like a second-class citizen and remain unmedicated. I finally spoke to a man who was full of compassion, likely the only employee at that jail that has an ounce of empathy for anyone. He went and found my husband and told him he needed to call me.
By the time he called me, way over 24 hours had passed since his arrest, I had already hired a lawyer, and suspected that his mental health status had something to do with his arrest, so I picked up a copy of his pysch evaluation from his psychologist.
I answered the phone and my husband did not even sound like himself. He explained that he had been feeling so low and like he wanted to die but that he was “too pussy to pull the trigger,” so he sought out a way to effectively end his life without him being the one to do it. He contemplated armed robbery (Suicide by cop) or running his truck into oncoming traffic. He didn’t want others to get hurt so those ideas didn’t work out.
Jake discovered an online sting operation while doing research for a class he was teaching on social networking. Remember, Jake has his ethical hacker certification, and can very easily identify these sting operations. After asking very specific questions to the under-cover detective and being sure that it was indeed an under-cover operation, he knew that with a sexual charge, I would leave him and take our girls and he could “rot in jail.” His life would be over. He had actually reported this profile as underage a
few days before but it popped back up which further confirmed his suspicions.
Clearly, Jake wasn’t thinking right. I am not that type of person. I will stand by my husband because he is a good man who has severe PTSD caused by his willingness to stand up and put his life on the line for his country.
Some people, including “friends,” don’t believe his story. I say eff them. I know Jake and I KNOW he knew what he was doing. He is the smartest man I know.
The hell that I’ve been through since my husband was arrested is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced. A “friend” sent me Jakes mug shot, obtained from an app. His arrest was not published in the paper, but we had such a huge group of friends that news traveled fast and a lot of people are aware. One of Jakes best friends turned his back on him.
I immediately took Jake to the hospital after taking him home for a shower and some food. He was extremely suicidal and was admitted to the inpatient mental health unit. There, his doctor told him that people who have PTSD shouldn’t be on Wellbutrin because it causes extreme anxiety. He had been on Wellbutrin for months with a semi recent dose change. He was taken off Wellbutrin and prescribed some different medications that hopefully would work better. He stayed for 5 nights in the IMHU. He has been attending counseling and keeping up this new medication regimen that has been tweaked a few times but the meds have basically stayed the same. His psychologist performed a new psych evaluation and discovered that Jake was indeed psychotic on the day he committed this crime.
Jakes psychologist diagnosed him with severe ptsd with dissociative symptoms (which was a step up from severe PTSD which was diagnosed with his 2013 psych evaluation), brief psychotic disorder, dysthymia, and mild alcohol abuse. His psychologist has since written a letter to the court stating that Jake was experiencing a psychotic episode on the day that this crime was committed and that it was completely uncharacteristic of him.
We have a lot of support. We really are lucky.
We have had to deal with Child Protective Services twice. Both cases were deemed ‘unfounded’ but both cases were reported by our ‘friends’. We have since bought a house in a different state where we have family and have tried to move on with our lives. Soon, Jake will be indicted. They will charge him with attempted rape among other things.
We will fight, it’s probably a losing battle, and he will probably take a plea deal
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you have a loved one dealing with the consequences of a sting operation (or you’re a scum bag piece of trash law enforcement officer who has nothing better to do than create criminals). If you are the former, I’m praying for each and every one of you. This is hell and I feel for you.
It’s not a crime in the United States of America to have a mental illness, especially one that has been caused by putting your life on the line for your country. It IS a crime to treat those with mental illness as second-class citizens, and furthermore, it should absolutely be a crime for law enforcement to throw psychotic suspects in jail without getting them the help they so desperately need.