The family of a Massachusetts man who stabbed a woman repeatedly before he died in police custody says they tried to get him help for mental health issues.
An attorney for Erich Stelzer's family says Stelzer had been experiencing delusions, erratic behavior and extreme paranoia. While the family says they were very worried about Stelzer’s safety after having noticed a decline in his mental health over the past week, specifically at a gathering on Christmas night, they say there were no indications that Stelzer would engage in any violent conduct.
Stelzer had been in the care of mental health professionals for the past month, according to his family, but it became clear to them that that his needs were not being met.
As a result, Stelzer's family says they called police and EMTs on Christmas Day at which time they expressed their concerns that Stelzer was having a psychotic break and required immediate hospitalization. They say the EMTs' assessment was that Stelzer didn't need assistance because he was "lucid enough to know his own name and the date.''
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The family says the following day they hired a team to help bring Stelzer to an inpatient facility for treatment, but the attack occurred before that could happen.
"The family of Erich Stelzer wishes to express its deepest sympathy for the victim and her family," family attorney Philip G. Cormier said in a statement. "They are without words to adequately communicate their grief and sorrow at the events that transpired, the physical and mental pain caused to the victim, and the loss of life of a young man who was someone's little brother and someone's son."
Police say 24-year-old Maegan Tapley is expected to survive Thursday's attack. Her mother says they met on the dating app Tinder.
Officers used stun guns on Stelzer. He became unresponsive while being transported to the hospital.