Letters From Whiting Patient at Center of Abuse Investigation

Letters written by the patient at the center of an abuse investigation at Whiting Forensic Division show the alleged abuse may have gone on for more than a decade.

A staff member gave the letters to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, letters in which the patient wrote to doctors and others at Whiting Forensic complaining of abuse. People close to the patient confirm the letters are in his handwriting and one of those letters dates back to 2006.

The state's investigation of alleged abuse at Whiting, Connecticut's maximum security mental hospital, began after a surveillance video from the patient's room was brought to the attention of management in early 2017.

The letters given to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters show the patient had complained about his treatment more than a decade earlier than that.

In a letter dated May 19, 2008, the patient wrote that a staff member "is trying to kill me."

The patient wrote another letter, dated November 12, 2006, in which he said someone broke his leg and that a different staff member "threatened to kill me and beat me up."

There are two co-conservators for the 59-year-old patient, both appointed to oversee his care. The patient's brother, Al Shehadi is one of the co-conservators and the other is Karen Kangas, a former employee at Whiting Forensic.

Kangas told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that she read other letters in the patient's file, one which said "I'm so tired of being abused," according to Kangas.

The patient has been at Whiting since 1995 after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of his father.

According to Kangas, the patient is one of Whiting's most difficult patients. Kangas said he can be physically combative, verbally abusive and prone to long stretches of sleeplessness, but stressed there is no excuse for how he was allegedly treated.

Since the alleged abuse first came to light, 37 staff members at Whiting have been put on administrative leave. Of those staff members, 23 are no longer working at Whiting. Thirteen were terminated, six resigned and four retired.

Ten of them were arrested and their cases are still pending.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) oversees Whiting Forensic. DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said she cannot comment on the letters because the criminal investigation is ongoing and her agency is conducting an internal investigation as well.

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