Monday, May 11, 2009

"Was At One Time taking Lithium"

These are key words, at one time was taking. Just because you feel " normal" does not mean you can stop taking your meds, the meds are the "reason" why you are feeling so well. Please take your prescribed meds so these things don't happen to innocent people.

Uncle says mental illness at root of Manchester pacemaker attack
By Matthew Wilde
Waterloo Courier

(Waterloo Courier)
This is the rural Manchester home of Charles Fierstine, a cabin that is similar to a barn in appearance. It is where authorities say Fierstine's son, Jesse, 32, attacked his father on April 25 and cut a pacemaker out of his father's chest. Jesse Fierstine then fled across the bridge in front of his father's home and hid in the garage at his nearby home until he was arrested.

Mental illness may explain why a rural Manchester man cut the pacemaker out of his father's chest, a family relative says.

Jesse Lewis Fierstine, 32, is charged with attacking his father, Charles Fierstine, on April 25 and cutting his father's pacemaker out of his chest. Delaware County authorities have said it is one of the more unusual and gruesome crimes they've ever handled.

Jesse Fierstine is charged with attempted murder and is being held on $750,000 cash bond in the Delaware County Jail.

Jim Fierstine, Jesse's uncle, and law enforcement officers say Jesse Fierstine suffers from bipolar disorder but was not on medication at the time of the attack. Officials said he struggles with reality.

"He (Jesse) asked me to take him for a walk (outside) today," Deb Lynch, Delaware County Jail administrator, said recently. "He doesn't comprehend anything."

Jim Fierstine of rural Garber, while waiting to visit his nephew in jail, said he and other family members are convinced Jesse's mental state caused the attack. Sheriff's deputies said Jesse told them he'd drunk a bottle of wine before the attack.

Jesse and his father are close, Jim Fierstine said. Charles Fierstine, a 63-year-old retired dairy farmer, had heart problems, and those health problems bothered Jesse, he said.

By going after his father's pacemaker, Jim Fierstine believes, his nephew thought he was in some way helping his dad.

"I think that was on his mind, but who knows what was going on in there," he said. "If he intended to (just) murder him, one good blow to the heart would have done that."

(Waterloo Courier)
This is the mobile home where Jesse Fierstine lived in rural Manchester. He was hiding in the adjacent garage when authorities arrested him April 25 on suspicion of assaulting his father. His uncle said Jesse Fierstine suffers from bipolar disorder and was not taking medication at the time of the attack.

Charles Fierstine is recovering at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, his brother said, and has undergone medical procedures to repair the damage.

"He's coming along fine. We think he will pull through," Jim Fierstine said.

Emotionally, the family is doing "as well as possible," he added. Rather than being angry, "they (the family) want help for Jesse, especially his dad."

That means treating Jesse once again for bipolar disorder. At one time, Jesse Fierstine was seeing mental health professionals and taking lithium, a commonly prescribed medication to manage the problem, law enforcement and family said.

Jim Fierstine said Jesse was at his parents' home three miles southeast of Manchester the night of the attack. Jesse lives nearby in a mobile home. The properties are separated by a creek and connected with a foot bridge.

At about 10:30 p.m., Jim Fierstine said, Donna Fierstine found her husband and son fighting. She ran to the nearby house of another son, Jayson, to call 911. Court documents said Jesse Fierstine struck his father in the head with a flashlight and piece of firewood and then cut out his father's pacemaker with a pocket knife, leaving a gash 6 1/2 inches long and 3/4-inch wide. Deputies found wires protruding from Charles Fierstine's chest.

Jim Fierstine said Jesse has struggled to hold full-time jobs and that his parents support him in return for his help with their acreage. On his application for a public defender, Jesse said he was self-employed making less than $200 per month.

Jim Fierstine said his nephew eagerly helps with chores like mowing and shoveling snow. He also saved an abandoned baby squirrel by having a cat that recently had kittens nurse it, he said.

"That," he said, "is the Jesse I know."

Sgt. Larry Gronwold said the sheriff's department has participated in at least two mental health committals for Jesse in the past.

Jail staffers said they've requested mental help for Jesse through his attorney and have asked he be put back on lithium but that he must be seen by a psychiatrist first. He has been segregated from other inmates for their safety and his own, jail administrator Lynch said.

"I don't think he has the mental capacity to be with other inmates," Lynch said. "He's very polite to me."

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