Caught in the middle

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Caught in the middle

By Jermont Terry. CREATED Apr 30, 2014

MILWAUKEE - Fallon Thomas remains in custody. The mother is charged with attempted murder. She faces 60 years in prison if found guilty of poisoning Corleon and Andrew, her five and eight year-old sons.

Thomas’ family members said the problems started back in 2012 when Thomas was abducted and later found unconscious in an alley in Chicago. Family said when Thomas awoke she didn’t even know her own name and doctors ordered her to start therapy.

In March 2014, investigators said Thomas intentionally mixed her prescription pills in tea, then forced her sons to drink it. Those pills are used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The side effects are very serious. The boys spent weeks in the ICU.

“She had to have blacked out. Something was going on,” said Kia Davis.

Davis is a close friend of Thomas. She once lived with Thomas and her children. She said when the mother appeared in court something did not seem right.

“She looked like she could be in her right mind but she looked like she was scared and didn't know what was happening,” said Davis.

The aunt of the youngest boy, Meesha Ray said she first contacted the Department of Children and Families in November 2013. She said she DCF did at least one home visit and found nothing alarming.

“I kept asking them (DCF) to keep checking on my nephew to make sure he's ok and they (DCF) didn't and that's why we're here today,” said Ray.

The aunt said Thomas kept them from seeing the boys. Family members said for nearly three months they continued to ask DCF to do checkups.

The family informed us Thomas also received treatment at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex after that 2012 Chicago incident. So if family members made DCF aware of the mother’s issues and she saw a therapist ---it begs the question: Did either agency ever compare notes about this family?

We don’t know because both agencies said “federal privacy laws” and “confidentiality issues” prevent the agencies from discussing anything about this case.

Peter Hoeffel, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Milwaukee said it’s the same problem many families of patients run into.

“We get the complaint a lot from family members they're told we can't talk to you. That's just not true, they can talk to them,” said Hoeffel.

Hoeffel acknowledged the specifics of this case need we don’t know but added if mistakes were made we have to learn them.

“I think out of fear, whether it lawsuits or blame too much of our systems are afraid to be honest about where there are pitfalls and where there needs to be fixes,” said Hoeffel.

Joyce Felker with the non-profit agency, The Parenting Network” said give the agencies the benefit of the doubt.

“I'll tell you I work with those folks from the bureau they are good people and they have good heart and want to help and sometimes it's a matter of capacity,” said Felker.

It should be noted just because a parent suffers from a mental illness---that is not reason to remove the kids.

As for the boys they did survive, doing better and are now in foster care. 

Additional Links:
The Parenting Network
NAMI
 

Jermont Terry

Jermont Terry

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Jermont Terry joined the TODAY'S TMJ4 team in January 2011. He currently leads the TMJ4 I-Team as the investigative reporter.