CREATED Aug. 21, 2013
Omaha, NE - A horrific crime and a tragic death that could have been avoided.
"That's a cry out, that's a red flag for us to really start getting proactive."
Mental illness could be at the root of the strangulation of 19 year old Melissa Rodriguez. Her boyfriend Mikael Loyd is her accused killer.
"It happens over and over again, and many of the horrific crimes in Nebraska can be traced back to that."
Loyd's family tells Action 3 News the young man had been in and out of mental facilities for years. Loyd tried to get help but in the end it just wasn't enough.
"We have to analyze what happened we have to understand what happened so we can make correct policy."
An advocate for better mental health care in Nebraska, State Senator Brad Ashford says this state has a catastrophic problem.
"There are many many many young people in the 19-25 group that are in desperate need of mental health services. I mean the Von Maur case may have been the most tragic case in Nebraska history, related back to mental health."
Ashford says there are 1,100 inmates that age, behind bars in the state that will need mental health services. The problem, there aren't enough care providers and health insurance that won't cover the costs.
Even locally, at the Omaha 360 meeting, community leaders know mental health issues are directly related to the city's ongoing crime problem.
"For young men and women that are in that age bracket, they're kinda left floating in the system a little bit or left falling in between the cracks and so that's an area that needs to be addressed in our city."