RICHLAND TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The family of a Richland Township man, who is facing prison time in the stabbing death of his grandmother, is speaking out about mental illness one week after the tragedy.
It’s been a week since the Rev. David Johnston’s wife and Ruth Johnston’s mom, 76-year-old Connie Johnston, died at the hand of David’s grandson and Ruth’s son, Levi Staver.
And it’s almost surreal to describe the passive Levi that the family knew and loved.
“Interested in everything, scientific, bright, artistic,” Ruth said of her son. “He was a talented artist. He loved to read. He couldn’t stop learning. He loved to learn.”
“He had a very high IQ,” added Rev. Johnston.
But Levi’s mom says over the last eight years they have watched as Levi’s autism and Asperger’s Syndrome has morphed into finally a diagnosis of schizophrenia last fall when he got hurt in a fall.
“He was talking crazy talk to the nurses about aliens had given him an artificial heart and all these things,” Ruth told KDKA.
The family says Levi regularly talked to angels and believed in his own reality that his grandmother tried to kill him.
“It was that, ‘Grandma came in and tried to stab me, and I chased her away.’ And I said ‘Levi, that didn’t happen,’” said Ruth. “He said, ‘It did, it did.’”
Ruth says those beliefs were so firmly rooted in the disease that he could not be convinced otherwise. But still, there were no threats of violence towards anyone. Then, came last Tuesday.
“We trusted him, he walked into the kitchen and we both said, ‘Good morning Levi.’ That’s the way we always do,” Rev. Johnston said. “And he stood there for a brief time. I didn’t even look. The next thing I knew the knife was in her.”
“That fast. Simply, the voices told him to do it,” Ruth added.
At every turn, from the time he became an adult at age 18, the family still sought help for Levi, who was only admitted once after he intentional cut his neck. He was released with medication that the family doubts he ever took and they could see him sliding deeper and deeper away.
“And we were on hair trigger to see if we could put him in the hospital until the day he suddenly, with no warning killed my mother,” Ruth said.
Man Allegedly Stabs Grandmother To Death, Blames “Archangel Michael” (2/19/13)
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