Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' Home

John Hinckley, who shot then President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He has been a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington ever since and is now 50. In recent years, doctors at the facility have said he is no longer psychotic or depressed. In 2003, the Judge presiding over his case allowed him to have unsupervised visits with his parents. He also has been allowed to make off-site excursions around Washington and to stay overnight with his parents within 50 miles of the hospital.

Today, the Judge went further, granting Hinckley overnight visits with his parents at their Virginia home, three hours from the hospital.

Hinckley will have to meet with a psychiatrist at least once during each visit and check in daily by phone with the hospital, Friedman directed. Hinckley is taking Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug.

He also will be allowed supervised used of the Internet. However, any attempt to contact the media will be considered a violation of his conditional release, as will be any contact with Leslie DeVeau, a former girlfriend of 22 years and ex-patient at the hospital, according to the ruling.

The goal of the visits is to allow Hinckley to be "acclimated" to his parents' community and relearn skills, including gardening, cooking and taking out the garbage, Friedman wrote in his opinion.

What comes next? Doctors have requested Hinckley be allowed to obtain a driver's license and job training and to seek employment.

Hinckley began dating Leslie deVeau in 1988, when she was a patient at the hospital. She had been found not guilty by reason of insanity after shooting and killing her ten year old daughter. She tried to commit suicide by shooting herself after the killing, but ended up shooting her shoulder, which suffered such severe injury she had to have her arm amputated:

Since 1990, Hinckley had made considerable progress in his mental health treatment. In 1992 he was taken off psychiatric medications and allowed to wander the hospital grounds unsupervised. For the past ten years, John has dated Leslie deVeau, whom he met when she too was a mental patient at St. Elizabeth's. The couple takes daily walks, often lunch together, and share a mutual love of books. According to John's mother, Leslie "handles so many of John's problems. She's just been our angel."

But deVeau is hardly an angel. While deVeau is a former social worker who currently works at St. Elizabeth's hospital aiding outpatient recovery, in 1982, she shot and killed her 10 year old daughter. Distraught, deVeau then attempted to commit suicide by shooting herself in the left shoulder; but the bullet wound was not fatal. Her left arm, however, suffered massive injuries and was amputated. Like John, deVeau pled insanity at her trial and the jury adjudged her not guilty by reason of insanity. She was released after spending four years at St. Elizabeth's. As of 1998, Leslie and John have been dating for ten years.

DeVeau, now 62, and Hinckley broke up in 2004. It's unclear if their relationship was platonic. DeVeau told the Court in 2004 they are still friends.

The doctors think it is reasonable that Hinckley desires a relationship with a woman. In September, the Judge wasn't sure:

The underlying question at a hearing yesterday appeared to be how Hinckley would handle courtship and respond to rejection out in the world, away from the structure and support of a hospital.

...Hinckley's interest in women, viewed as natural by the psychologist, is disconcerting to the Justice Department's attorneys, who oppose any expansion of Hinckley's freedoms and who note that it was Hinckley's obsession with actress Jodie Foster that spurred him to open fire on Reagan in 1981.

....[Paul Montalbano, chief of pretrial services at St. Elizabeths Hospital] said that, just as many people rely on their partners for support, Hinckley could be well served by the sort of relationship he craves. But Montalbano also said that given the scrutiny such a partner would endure, Hinckley may face a hard road to romance: "Mr. Hinckley remains optimistic, but perhaps naively optimistic."

The Judge wrote in yesterday's order:

"One would hope that in the upcoming visits to his parents' home, Mr. Hinckley will have the opportunity to begin to develop normal, healthy and appropriate friendships with both men and women that will withstand the scrutiny necessarily given to them by the psychiatrists and psychologists treating him."

I agree. Good luck to John Hinckley, it won't be easy.

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    Re: Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' (none / 0) (#1)
    by Andreas on Fri Dec 30, 2005 at 08:27:07 PM EST
    In 1982 Jodie Foster wrote an article about the effect Hinkley had on her life: Why Me?

    Re: Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' (none / 0) (#2)
    by profmarcus on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:10:35 AM EST
    i'm pleased to know that there is some humanity left in a judicial and penal system that claims rehabilitation as its goal...

    Re: Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' (none / 0) (#3)
    by Kitt on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 10:36:16 AM EST
    There was an MSNBC poll yesterday that asked if Hinckley should be allowed unsupervised visits with his parents. Actually I think the question was worded somewhat differently but an unbelieveable 80% thought 'no'. I wonder about the input of the Brady family to Hinckley's case - who was more severely injured than Reagen.

    Re: Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:07:44 PM EST
    Hodo - Seems to me there is a guy in a wheelchair.... Brady?? Yes, that's it.. Nice enough guy, got caught in the crossfire.. Where can ge go to get his life back?

    Re: Hinckley to Be Allowed Overnights at Parents' (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 06:56:08 PM EST
    Jim, Strangely, Brady sought meaning in his life though gun control advocacy.