ASH drops deranged man in Paso Robles

August 6, 2013
Charles Edwards

Charles Edwards

A parolee deemed too dangerous for release because of mental illness was dropped at a bus stop in Paso Robles, the result of a clerical error that led to the death of a Santa Cruz woman. [LATimes]

In May 2012, an Atascadero State Hospital employee drove Charles Anthony Edwards, 44, to Paso Robles where he was told to take a bus to the San Francisco. Shortly afterwards, he made his way to Santa Cruz where prosecutors say he brutally stabbed a popular shop owner to death on a busy sidewalk.

On Monday, Edwards was transported to a Santa Cruz County Courtroom where a judge will determine if he is legally competent to stand trial.

On May 7, officers responded to a 911 call and found Shannon Collins with her right carotid artery and jugular vein slashed and Edwards splattered with her blood. Edwards is a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence dating to age 13.

Officials at Atascadero State Hospital had classified Edwards as a mentally disordered offender deemed too dangerous for release due to active mental illness. Nevertheless, in September 2011, Atascadero State Hospital officials sent Edwards to a highly monitored conditional-release program in Manteca.

After just one week, Edwards begged to be sent back to the hospital because he believed he could not make it on the outside, records and interviews revealed. State correction officials agreed with Edwards and sent him back to Atascadero State Hospital.

However, the Atascadero staffer admitting Edwards into the hospital made a clerical error placing the date for his mandatory one-year parole review into the system incorrectly. The deadline came and went without a review.

Hospital officials then decided they could no longer legally hold Edwards and had a staffer drive him to a bus stop in Paso Robles. Edwards took the bus to San Francisco and then he drifted to Santa Cruz where he stayed in a homeless shelter.

On May 7, after being holed up in the shelter reading the Bible and muttering to himself for about four days, he attacked Collins who was walking to the hair dresser for an appointment.

Collins’ husband Kenneth Vinson has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections as well as the Atascadero State Hospitals, alleging that officials “knew that Edwards continued to suffer from a severe mental disorder during the period of his parole.”

The state attorney general’s office is battling to have the lawsuit thrown out, citing government immunity from liability.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ve worked in multiple communities and multiple settings. The crazy employee ratio is no higher at ASH than anywhere else. And clerical errors happen. IMHO the mental health care system is broken everywhere, not only at ASH or the state of CA. Keep shaking your fists, hating on people, and pounding on your keyboards and I’m sure the laws will change and suddenly the world will be as safe and just as you believe it should be.

The point that should not be lost to people on this board is that “homeless” indeed includes a good number of gentlemen just like this guy. There are no easy answers and there is ignorance in the “feel-good” advocacy of throwing money into a local mecca for such folks without the means to manage the complexities.

While you’re doling out ironic quotation marks you might want to add some to the term gentlemen.

And the state is being ‘forced’ to liberate 10,000 inmates by the end of the year. I wish I was connected to a high ranking party member so I could get a CCW permit.

The staffer should feel lucky they are still walking free on the outside. Mistake or not, this deserves jail time for gross incompetence.

Can’t tell the patients from the employees. Maybe crazy is contagious. How many people had the close call of coming in contact with this person? How many of the homeless wandering aimlessly in downtown SLO are equally dangerous? Panhandlers hanging around outside Best Buy, following people to their cars. Been there. Wish some of these sympathizers would do more than try to make me pay for their solutions. Maybe take these guys home w/ them.

gimmeee a break. Government employees can’t be this stupid and negligent and irresponsible can they?

There had to be so many dropping the ball incidents for this to happen, I can’t even believe it was an accident. It basically had to be orchestrated.

The wrongful death suit by the deceased women’s family should be against all the employees involved and their employers.

There should probably also be a criminal investigation against the employees and their employers.

<> <>>

When they dropped him off in Paso, they should have told him to stay there.

He woulda fit right in.

\Now fior the ‘unsatire’ ; this tragedy can be laid at the feet of the ‘conservatives’ that don’t wanna pay nuthin’ fer nuthin’ !

ignorant people dictating procedures results in outcomes like this.

yeah…they’re offended when confronted by the truth of their limitations.