Lawmen have repeat problems with mental patients - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmen have repeat problems with mental patients

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June 23, 2003

Lee County- Law enforcers say the attack inside the Winn-Dixie wasn't the first or the last problem they've had with a mentally unstable person. Sunday, a woman and a deputy were attacked by a mentally ill man.

Thirty-two-year-old William Michael Sherell is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, accused of trying to rape a nurse his group home, then hitting the responding deputy.

Sherell lived on Winding Way Road, a residential street where several such group homes are. In the last year, deputies have investigated 19 formal complaints about the mentally ill on that road. Deputies say they're not properly supervised.

Winding Way Road appears to be a quiet residential street in Lee County, but some neighbors say they are scared.  Lita Cannon lives next door to William Michael Sherell, the man accused of trying to rape the caregiver at his group home. "They do make you scared of them. I am scared. When I see one, I take my child inside the house."

Cannon says she has had several problems with unsupervised mentally ill people on her street, including a man who followed her 12-year-old daughter around. "When she told me that, I told her not to go back out and stay in the house."

At least three quadraplexes on this street are occupied by mentally ill people. Chief Dennis Parker says they are run by Dougherty/Lee County Mental Health.

But Parker says they are not being run well.  "The supervision is not there to the level it should be."

Parker says his deputies are constantly finding people wandering several miles from home-- sometimes they don't know where they are.  "They wander on people's property, or even persons breaking into other people's residence, it's just a safety issue as far as that goes."

Neighbor Michael Mobley says he feels safe, but tells his young daughter to be careful. "They are steadily walking the streets and stuff and I know they don't mean any harm. But I tell my little girl to be careful when she is out with her friends."

But Mobley and other neighbors we spoke to say they want to see more supervision on their street.

A spokesperson from Dougherty-Lee Mental Health says they provide 24 hour supervision for their clients. And as far as supervision goes, they say they provide adequate supervision.

posted at 6:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com