Andre Thomas is insane. That statement requires no validation, no clarification and leaves no room for debate. Just over 11 years ago, Thomas brutally murdered his estranged 20-year-old wife and her 2 children – 4 years old and 13 months old, respectively. He did so, by attempting to dig their hearts out of their chests. He then left the scene, and tried the same on himself. Since it is impossible to cut out your own heart, he failed – surviving to face charges. He confessed, and at age 21 was sentenced to death.
While awaiting trial, Thomas gouged out one of his own eyeballs. In 2008, he gouged out the other, this time eating it.
During the month that preceded the crime, Mr. Thomas had sought mental health treatment, on several occasions. Twice, during this period, his obvious psychoses made doctors so nervous that they requested emergency detention warrants for him. He rang all the bells, ranting on about suicide, the Bible and his mission from God. He told the doctors that Ms. Boren was the Biblical Jezebel, that his son was the Antichrist and that his infant daughter was part of a satanic conspiracy. He ranted and raved. He spoke of hearing voices, and told how he had been called upon to free their hearts of demonic possession.
Despite all this, he was never detained, and never treated.
In Texas, as in most states, hospitals cannot hold people who check in for mental health reasons, but refuse to stay. It is necessary to obtain a warrant, in which case the burden of proof falls on the psych department, to show that the patient is a potential danger to himself or others. However, Texas does have a non-profit organization that is seeking to change that – the Texas Appleseed Project. They are urging the state to change the existing law. One such change would involve granting hospitals and mental health facilities the right to detain patients in the advent of a demonstrable mental health crisis.
This is just one more case where we – society – dropped the ball, and let a disturbed psychotic slip through the cracks. In short, we could have saved that family. Records show that Thomas had complained of hearing voices – voices that commanded him to do evil things – since he was a small child. He told school friends and teachers that he heard demons in his head. By his teens, Thomas had attempted suicide several times. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict. By his 18th birthday, he already had a long history of arrests.
We failed him, and now we want to kill him. He did a horrible thing and he deserves to be punished. Perhaps, but we need to be very careful here. Almost 2 decades before he did that horrible thing, he came to us, asking for help. We chose not to give it to him. It’s too expensive. It’s a violation of his Constitutional rights. He didn’t follow the prescribed plan. Would you lock up everybody who mutters about suicide – or even homicide?
A friend of mine, several years ago, was going through a bad patch. His job was in jeopardy. His family was falling apart around him. He was losing his home, and he was drowning in debt. He chose to seek the advice of a mental health professional. In the ensuing session, he mentioned to the doctor, “Sometimes I just feel like I could kill.” Up went the red flags, and my friend ended up hospitalized. In Massachusetts, they can hold you for 3 days for observation. My friend wasn’t mentally ill. He was suffering. It’s something people do. Some may see those 3 days as an overreaction on the part of the doctor, and in this particular case, I would agree.
What about Dylan Klebold? Maybe 3 days of forced observation – followed up with treatment upon the realization that this young man was indeed a threat to himself and others – could have saved the lives of the Columbine students.
The mentally ill can be cured. But, it is expensive, and sadly – at times – it involves stepping on one or more of their Constitutional rights. We just need to maintain caution. There is a difference between watching out for those in need, and becoming a police state. I’m not advocating some sort of Aktion T-4, here. Individual liberty is – and must always be – paramount in American law, but we cannot continue to ignore the mentally ill, hoping they’ll just go away – and we can’t keep letting the penal system and the death penalty do the work we’re either too lazy or too inept to do.
In writing the above, I consulted the following:
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
- After that, let’s kill the mentally ill kid (drx.typepad.com)
- Troubled inmate struggles to maintain sanity in Texas prison (kens5.com)
- Religious? Crazy? Both? (therevealer.org)
- A schizophrenic who gouged out his eyes is on Texas death row (salon.com)
- Mentally Ill Death Row Prisoner Removed Both His Eyes – Will TX Execute Him Anyway? (my.firedoglake.com)
- “How Crazy is too Crazy to be Executed?” (I prefer to say: Mentally ill … not “crazy”) (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- | Crazy: Texas plans to execute a schizophrenic man who ate his own eyeball! (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- | Crazy: Texas plans to execute a schizophrenic man who ate his own eyeball! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
- Bill addresses once mentally ill people owning guns (ksl.com)
13 thoughts on “On the Boren-Thomas Case”
It is almost impossible to believe this man is sane enough to execute. In fact, he should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and institutionalized for the rest of his life.
Hey, David, change the FaceBook like button to something that actually posts a link to FB if you can.
I’ve been working on that. I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the comment, Marsha.
Hi, David, too little room for longer excurses, but let me tell You this, please, as a scientist, and You know for sure, what I want to say:
each human is part of a society, and esp. that society where he/she is living in. We have to see a human in a psychological & in an sociological context. To murder a person is not excusable; but:
we could or we have to watch that person in his fullness.
You (we all) have to got to the roots of crime, not in order to excuse it,
but to understand what happens in the beginning of crime…
Children cannot go a good way with ugly, bad, poor models of their
environment, they need good schools, help from all sight.
Yes, Annamaria. I agree. Nobody would condone what Thomas did, but as you say, we need to get to the roots of his crime. Not what he did, but why. We need to develop ways to see this sort of thing in its gestational stages, and put a stop to it there. Killing Thomas won’t bring back Laura and her kids. It’s hindsight now, but what we needed to do was to identify Thomas 20 years ago, and fix what was broken in him.
Outstanding writing on a really sad and complicated story. Thanks.
First I bring insight to your story that is clear to see you don’t know the facts. I am Laura’s father and the one who found them that morning. I knew Andre Lee Thomas from the time he was 13 he was very smart. He planned this and planned to get away with it. I know the facts from beginning to end he is not insane. He planned to do it and thought he had found away to serve only maybe 12 years at the most (words from his own mouth). While waiting for his trail. He also told my other daughter 6 months before and another person “I can get away with murder”. Plus he was smoking wet and taking large amounts of cloricidin which causes delusions. He was high for weeks before so even if he was delusional or what ever you may think by the law he is held accountable for his actions just as when a drunk driver when he kills. You see in his confession he he said ” I was in Fairview Park when I heard the sirens. I know they had been found so I sped up”. See the legal definition of insanity is did you know what you were doing at the time you did it was wrong your not insane. He also took duct tape with him wore dark clothes, ( it was barely daylight), he was seen crossing my yard on the way to her apartment checking to see if it was safe to continue, he took 3 knives. Oh and he only used the smallest on himself that he used on the baby not the large one. He told me he was cheated everything Laura had should be theirs not just hers. I could go own. But let me say this the plucking out of his own eyes only to try to prove his insanity. When he realized that he had screwed up in his confession “when heard the sirens” and that his story was not holding up he had to try to look more insane. I know this may be hard to believe however I know this guy a lot better than any of you. I know what pain he can take. I know how unjust he thinks what had happened between them how bad he wanted her back. So I’m sorry to bust your bubble but he deserves death by injection. I just hope for his sake he will stop hiding behind his claims and takes his punishment and tells the real reason for his actions. That is the only way God can forgive him for what he has done. Take care all Paul
Thank you so much sir, for your insights into this case, and for taking the time to comment on DeafInPrison.com. I am deeply and genuinely sorry for your loss. I will take your insights to heart, and give them the consideration they deserve.
This is a shame. I feel for the family for the loss of their wonderful daughter and her children. But that so called father acting like Paul…… shame on you i know the family and you are not her father. to say that you are and to write those lies are despicable. Shame on you to use the Internet for your own childish games. I’m not on any side. if he deserves to fry or rot in a crazy house. I’m on the side that i know you lie. Tsk Tsk.
Shawn, I’m confused. Are you telling me that Paul Boren is not the father, or are you telling me that whoever wrote this comment is not Paul Boren? Please respond. I would like very much to know the truth in this.
He is not the real Paul.