NECN INVESTIGATES: Why Was Taunton Rampage Suspect Allowed to Leave Hospital?

The sister of the suspect in the stabbing rampage in Taunton, Massachusetts, tells necn he called her Monday afternoon, speaking gibberish and saying the devil was inside him.

Kerri DaRosa says she told her brother, Arthur DaRosa, to come to their father's home in Taunton, where an ambulance took him to nearby Morton Hospital. That was around 5 p.m.

Eleven hours later - at 4 a.m. Tuesday — the 28-year-old contractor was allegedly released from the hospital and walked back to his father's home.

Fifteen hours after that, DaRosa allegedly unleashed a storm of violence that left two people dead and others injured.

So, what happened? Why was a reportedly unstable man released from the hospital in the middle of the night?

"No one would have let him out if they thought this was going to happen," said Dr. Ellen Braaten of Massachusetts General Hospital. "No one."

Braaten, a psychiatrist, says if a person with mental health issues comes to the emergency department, they would be evaluated by a psychiatrist and a risk assessment would be done.

"Is this person a danger to himself or potential harm to someone else," explained Braaten.

If hospital staff thought the person was a danger, they could order them held for 72 hours under whats called a Section 12 — even if the person came in voluntarily.

"It's not really that big of a leap to think that you would Section 12 someone," Braaten said. "All you need to do is deem that someone is going to be of significant harm to themselves or someone else."

Morton Hospital and their parent company have not responded to our requests for information.

But Larry D'Angelo with the National Alliance on Mental Illness says we don’t know what happened in the 11 hours DaRosa was in the ED — and human behavior is very hard to predict.

"Did he suddenly become much calmer? Less symptomatic?" D'Angelo asked. "We're weighing taking away someone's rights against the potential that something's going to happen, and it's so difficult to predict."

"It's definitely possible that someone comes in very flagrantly in crisis and, within a period of 11 or 12 hours, gets themselves together, get a plan in place for when they feel like that again," said Braaten. "So it could definitely happen ... the more significant their problems are when they come in, the less likely it is that that could happen."

D'Angelo says hospitals are often reluctant to section patients. He adds that he does not know what happened here, but a shortage of beds is a crisis statewide.

"A private psychiatric bed is less profitable for a hospital than another kind of bed," he said.

"To not have a bed would not be a reason not to admit somebody," said Braaten, explaining that clinicians tend to err on the side of caution.

Massachusetts Sen. Marc Pacheco, who represents Taunton, is calling for an independent state review to make sure proper protocols were followed at the hospital. He sent letters requesting information from Secretaries Daniel Bennett and Marylou Sudders of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Contact Us