By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
In March 2017, Franklin county officials found a grisly scene when they arrived at a house on U.S. Highway 64, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
They were responding to a 911 call where a man called to say he had killed his own mother. What they found at the scene was all too horribly accurate. Eighteen-year-old, Oliver Mauricio Funes-Machado (Machada) had beheaded his own mother with a butcher knife. He was still holding her head when they arrived. He told the dispatcher that he had stabbed his mother "like eight times and left the knife in her mouth" and that he had committed the atrocity "because I felt like it". He had been released only a week before from a mental health facility, based on a court order.
The victim, Yesenia Beatriz Funes-Machado was 35 years old. She had three other younger children living in the home with her. When she was killed her two young daughters, age 2 and 4, were in another room of the house, but were unharmed. A third child was in school, and their father Walter Mauricio Machado was not home at the time.
The place where the murder took place was so grisly that first responders who worked the crime scene gathered for group counseling afterward. A neighbor who was leaving his house minutes after the police arrived, came to offer his help to the officer who had handcuffed Machado. He said he saw the woman’s head lying in the front yard about five feet in front of the porch. Her face and body were mutilated.
Machado is an illegal immigrant from Honduras, which had been living in the United States since he was 5 or 6 years old. He completed the 10th grade in a local high school, but eventually dropped out due to behavioral or emotional issues.
A family friend who was interviewed said that Machado had changed when he was about 14 years old. He became isolated and refused to leave his room and socialize with others. He had received extended psychiatric treatment twice before the crime. Deputies found four medications labeled as being for the suspect on a bedroom dresser used to treat psychosis and schizophrenia
After the arrest Machado was charged with first-degree murder. In October, 2017, this charge was dropped by prosecutors. In the meantime he was transferred to a regional hospital in order to evaluate his fitness to go forward in the case.
On October 22, 2018, Machado was judged not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to state psychiatric care. During the hearing, a forensic psychiatrist who had evaluated him described Machado as suffering from a psychotic illness. He was described as "extremely delusional, believing that he was acting on God's instructions, and that Jesus would have stopped him if he wasn't supposed to kill his mother."
During treatment according to the doctor he would pace naked in his room and bark like a dog. During the hearing the following statement was read: "Should the defendant's capacity to proceed be restored, he would be returned to the custody of Franklin County Sheriff Ken Winstead, and the District Attorney's Office will reinstate the charges."
Perhaps they were keeping in mind something the evaluating physician said, which was he would not want to see the defendant outside of a secure setting.
On March 22, 2020, Mother's Day, Emily Jones, 7, was killed by a complete stranger—an illegal immigrant from Albania who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
The perpetrator was Eltiona Skana, 33, who was sitting on a bench in Queen's Park, Bolton (UK) when the girl rode past her on her scooter. She slashed the child with a craft knife, while calling out, "Mummy, Mummy!" to the girl's mother.
She went on trial in December, 2020, but the trial collapsed and she was sent to Rampton Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
In May, 2023, the Jones family was critical of why Skana was allowed to stay in the country, when she was found to have lied about being a victim of sex trafficking when she made an asylum application. She had a long history of poor mental health, and had stopped taking her medication in the weeks before the murder. She had come to Britain in the back of a lorry from France in 2014.
In 2015 and 2017, she told doctors she had lied in her asylum application, and that she wanted to go home. No explanation was given to the child's parents by the Home Office as to why they ignored these important clues, and allowed Skana to remain in the country.
Eltiona Skana had a well-documented history of paranoid schizophrenia, and violence against others with knives.
In the past Skana might have been sent to an asylum, which would have kept her safe and the community at large. It would have saved Emily Jones' life, however present day a community mental health team provides "snapshot" risk assessments, and Skana had only been seen once in 100 days. The team knew she could become dangerous when unmedicated and unwell.
Skana—who admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility—was sentenced to life imprisonment and was given a minimum term of 10 years and eight months.
On September 8, 2022, in San Carlos, California, Jose Solano Landaeta, 33, beheaded his 27-year-old ex-girlfriend Karina Castro with a Samurai sword.
Landaeta had come into the United States ten years before on a tourist visa and never left. When he committed the crime the victim had a restraining order against him, and he had criminal priors.
Authorities took custody of the victim's 7 and 1-year-old daughters, 1 dog and two cats. He was the father of the youngest child, and allegedly an argument had started regarding child custody. Karina had also threatened to talk about Solano's criminal record that included a rape conviction involving a minor, and to expose his sexual relationship with another man.
Karina’s grandmother, Danielle Gannon, told reporters that Landaeta was "a diagnosed schizophrenic on meds.” She added: “He would use that as an excuse for his behavior. He drank excessively and you’re not supposed to do that on those kind of medications."
The family said he went by the name Rafa Solano, and that he didn't work.
In early 2023, Landaeta's attorney described him as a "paranoid schizophrenic" who when not on his meds would lose touch with reality.
Martin Castro Jr., Karina's father claimed Landaeta was doing "whatever he can to avoid prison for as long as he can."
Two court-appointed doctors evaluated Landaeta and found him mentally competent to stand trial in March. He was described as catatonic and unresponsive, but he had become violent in jail
In October, 2023, he had become so violent while being transported to the courtroom that he never made it. The judge said that if he refused to come to court again, she would proceed without him.
On January 30, 2024, Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta was sentenced to 25 years on the murder charge, plus one for the weapon used. He must serve 26 years before becoming eligible for parole. He must also pay $20,000 in court fines and restitution, which include restitution to his victim's family in an
Like so many other instances where art imitates life, in 2022 the last sequel of the Halloween horror series premiered. It's the thirteenth film based on the John Carpenter movie released in 1978.
The synopsis of the original story was the murderous rampage caused by Michael Myers, a profoundly disturbed man who escapes from the institution where he was held since childhood after killing his own sister, when he was six years old.
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