“…and all the sinners, saints”– Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil”
It is an historic fact that Tim climbed the stairs to the porch of a house in a residential section of Bangor and yelled loudly while madly gesturing. He did this two days in a row. On the second day he was holding a 4-foot section of 2×4. On the first day he was able to be persuaded by local police to come down from the porch. The next day officers had to shoot him in the leg to get him to stop screaming at the house and pounding the door with his two by four. The mug shot taken at booking shows Tim to be a maniac, a long haired crazy man. The family involved had two small children, and they were all afraid.
Tim had approached the Shelter several years earlier. To all with some fair measure of experience, he was clearly ill with a serious mental illness. He was also very intelligent. Given a modest amount of time, some trust was established, connections were made, and eventually Tim moved into a subsidized apartment supported by a team that included a good psychiatrist, a counselor, a case manager and an understanding landlord. He proceeded to enjoy a couple of years of relative stability.
Tim was cuffed while down on the ground and taken to a local hospital under guard. His leg wound was not life threatening, and within a couple of days he was transferred to the local jail. He was arraigned, spent some more time in jail pending trial, and eventually was remanded to the custody of the state mental hospital. Over time, with therapy and adjustments to medication, Tim demonstrated remarkable insight and clarity of thought, and he was eventually placed into a group home with professional staff on site.
A couple years later, in early February on a cold and windy morning, one of that group home’s employees came to the Shelter and asked if anyone had seen Tim recently. We had not. In fact, we had not seen Tim since he’d been placed into an apartment years earlier. The employee was concerned for Tim’s welfare as he had carefully folded his clothes and placed them into several piles on top of his bed. Written with a felt marker in block print on a 3×5 card left on top of one of the piles of clothing were the words, “Good bye.”
Tim’s body was pulled from the Penobscot River, near Bucksport, in early May of that year.
There are some simple truths in this story. Tim had a serious, debilitating mental illness. He took his own life, probably by jumping from one of the bridges in Bangor. He had terrified a young family. Chances are at least one of those family members would suffer emotional consequences for a long time. Chances are at least one of the officers involved carried emotional wounds, especially after more of the story was discovered.
There are also hidden truths. Tim had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and had seen active duty in the marines. His family included a picture of him in full dress in the obituary. Perhaps most true and hidden of all, Tim had believed that he had been given the mission of saving those small children, that they were being held captive by the devil in the basement of that home, that only he could save them, that any other adult was evil and working for the devil, and that he had to risk his life in order to save them. That is why he tried twice, and why he ignored the verbal commands from the police, and why it took a bullet to take him down.