(May 2, 2013) When tragedies like Sandy Hook occur “I stay glued to the TV because I am so afraid Edward did it ‘cause he is out there and he’s going to do this and nobody will take him off the street,” says Sylvia Benninger (“Mom fears mentally-ill stepson will act on death threats,” ABC News, April 30.)
Benninger is referring to her stepson, Edward, 50, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and deemed to be dangerous. She says “he has left hundreds of threatening phone messages against family members.” He also has a history of threatening public figures, including judges in Pittsburgh and a federal judge in Indiana.
“He has never once stayed on his treatment plan, and I know of at least a dozen institutions he has been in. And he always goes back to his psychotic state,” his stepmother Benninger told the network.
The Benninger’s believe that Edward is currently in California. They have received multiple phone calls from law enforcement and doctors warning them that their stepson with severe mental illness is intent on killing his father. Edward has an extensive psychiatric and criminal record and represents one more example why every state needs better mental health treatment laws to allow families to get help for a loved one before they are dangerous.
Laura’s Law in California is one such tool that needs to be implemented statewide to help people like Edward get and stay well.
It is because of the prospect of helping people like Edward that two recent votes on Laura’s Law by the California Senate Committee on Health give us hope.
SB 664 removes the requirement that each county board of supervisors adopt a resolution prior to implementing the assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law. California is the only state that requires each county to opt in to AOT, creating a hurdle that is unnecessary and obstructive.
SB 585 clarifies that money from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) can be used to fund the program. Confusion about whether MHSA funds can be used for Laura’s Law has been a persistent barrier to its implementation by California counties. Removing this barrier will be a crucial step toward making assisted outpatient treatment more widely available to qualifying individuals with severe mental illness.
SB 585 is scheduled to be heard May 6 in the California Senate Appropriations Committee.
To find out how you can help, email us at
To comment, visit our Facebook page.
Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.