FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — Sons of a man committed to a mental institution after killing his wife say the system has failed them by releasing their father after almost 17 years.
Mark Hazelbaker, an attorney for Keith VandeBerg, 66, said his client was released into the Madison community Saturday from a court-ordered commitment. VandeBerg was found not guilty due to mental disease/defect of first degree intentional homicide in the 1998 shooting death of his wife, Terrie. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia about three years earlier.
VandeBerg’s family was told he would spend the rest of his life confined to a mental health treatment center.
“Our mother’s rights have been trampled and we are in shock,” said Chad VandeBerg of Rosendale, one of Keith VandeBerg’s three sons. “Instead of living with justice, we will now live in fear.”
Daniel VandeBerg of Oakfield, the youngest of Keith VandeBerg’s sons, agreed with his oldest brother and said their father needs to stay in a controlled environment to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We don’t want any association with him after all we have been through – all the hills and valleys,” Daniel VandeBerg said. “He was always so concentrated on not taking his medication and this is the struggle my mom and all of us had with him. It’s only a matter of time before he stops taking them again.”
Keith VandeBerg will continue to be supervised by a community treatment program, The Reporter Media reported. He also plans to live alone, according to Hazelbaker.
“Keith is going to try and build a life for himself,” the attorney said. “He is elderly and wants to live a quiet life and serve other people. He has made it plain to me that he knows he has to keep taking his medication.”
VandeBerg will remain under the control of the state for the rest of his life, Hazelbaker said, since a criminal commitment lasts as long as the sentence for the crime.
“Back when these unfortunate events occurred, Keith was found not responsible for killing his wife because he was severely mentally ill at the time,” he said.
After Terrie VandeBerg’s death, family members told police that Keith VandeBerg was suspicious his wife was having an affair. When he was questioned by police, VandeBerg told them he had stopped taking his medication.
If VandeBerg violates any conditions of his release, which are being kept confidential, it can be revoked by the state.
VandeBerg has made so much progress throughout treatment that he is now completely well, according to his attorney. Hazelbaker said he wouldn’t have asked for VandeBerg’s release if he wasn’t sure he would be able to succeed.
“Keith prays someday his sons will be willing to talk with him again,” Hazelbaker said.
Information from: The Reporter Media, http://www.fdlreporter.com