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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » General Support » Church shooting suspect has mental illness from Lyme disease

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Author Topic: Church shooting suspect has mental illness from Lyme disease
LymeNet Contributor
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I don't know if anyone has posted this yet. Pardons if it as been:

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Church shooting suspect has mental illness from Lyme disease


MARYVILLE -- A man suspected of killing the Rev. Fred Winters during a church service in Maryville on Sunday morning had developed mental illness from a tick bite, his family has said.

Police did not release the name of the suspect, who was seriously injured in a struggle with members of the congregation after the shooting of Winters at the First Baptist Church.

But a source close to the case confirmed late Sunday that it is Terry Joe Sedlacek, 27, who was the subject of a Post-Dispatch story in August about how Lyme disease had attacked his brain.

His home in the first block of Zachary Court in Troy, Ill., about three miles from the church, was searched late Sunday afternoon by police, who seized some gun cases and a computer. They would not comment.

Vehicle records show that Sedlacek is part-owner of a Jeep Wrangler parked outside the crime scene.

Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said that the vehicle, which was kept under guard, was believed to have been used by the attacker. Trent described the gunman as a 27-year-old who lives in Troy with no criminal record and no state firearms-owner identification.

Trent declined to confirm the suspect's name, pending filing of charges.

Winters, 45, was shot about 8:30 a.m. by a man who walked down the aisle during the service, exchanged words with Winters and fired his .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun four times before it jammed, police said.

The first shot shredded Winters' Bible, sending paper shreds into the air like "confetti," Trent said. One of three more shots hit Winters in the chest. Nobody else was hit.

Two church members wrestled the attacker down as he slashed them, and himself, with a knife.

The attacker and one of the wounded congregation members, Terry Bullard, 39, of Troy, were treated at nearby Anderson Hospital and airlifted to a St. Louis hospital for surgery, officials said. Both were reported to be in serious condition. Winters died at Anderson.

The other injured congregation member, Keith Melton, 51, of Troy, was treated at a hospital and released. Melton could not be reached, but his home answering machine has a message thanking callers for their concern.

Trent called Bullard and Melton "heroic" for stopping something that could have been worse.

Police and some congregation members said the shooter had no known connection to the 1,200-member church at 7710 Illinois Route 162, a short distance west of Interstate 55-70.

Trent said the motive for the shooting was unknown.

"We haven't spoken with him yet," Trent said at midafternoon. "He's still in surgery." He said the gunman suffered a stab wound to his neck.

It appeared that nobody was home late Sunday afternoon at the house on Zachary, where a state trooper stood guard until other officers arrived, ostensibly with a search warrant.

The home is listed as the address of Sedlacek and his mother, who co-owns the Jeep.

Neighbors told a reporter that Sedlacek appears to be mentally ill and would sometimes stand in the street and shout obscenities for no apparent reason.

He was the subject of an Aug. 6, 2008, Post-Dispatch article about his battle with mental illness attributed to Lyme disease. The man's mother, Ruth Abernathy, said her son, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, may have contracted the disease after being bitten by an infected tick on a family farm in the late 1990s.

He became ill during his junior year at Edwardsville High School and had taken several medications, including anti-seizure drugs, to combat the disease. It nearly killed him in 2003, but he survived after a series of treatments and was reported to have lesions on his brain.

Abernathy could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The attack stunned about 150 church members attending the early service. "Some thought it was some type of skit or program at the time," Trent said.

Police will review video and audio tapes made of the service, Trent said.

Church member Linda Cunningham said she was sitting in the back of the church when the shooter walked up the center aisle.

Winters' wife, Cindy Lee, and their daughters, Alysia Grace, 14, and Cassidy Hope, 12, were in the church but not in the sanctuary when the shooting occurred, church members said. The couple were married in 1987.

Some churchgoers initially believed the shooting was part of a dramatic sketch -- something that is common during Winters' services.

After the first shot was fired, Cunningham said, "All you could see was confetti."

Andy and Kris Nothnagel, of nearby Glen Carbon, were sitting about five rows from the pastor when the gunman opened fire.

They, too, said they thought it was part of a play.

"We didn't know if it was real," Andy Nothnagel said.

The couple, who have belonged to the church for about 12 years, said they had never seen the gunman before.

"He didn't look scary," Kris Nothnagel said. "He could have blended in with anybody."

Security experts say church shootings are particularly shocking because worship sanctuaries are so often thought of as a respite from the world's evils, where people come together for the sole purpose of praise and love.

Yet that very notion, say safety experts, leaves them more susceptible to danger.

"The biggest thing churches need to do is get over the 'it can't happen here' mentality," says Jeffery Hawkins, who has worked in law enforcement and security for 30 years and last year started the Christian Security Network. "It's the No. 1 stumbling block of churches."

Officials said the church had been working with some of its members to develop an emergency readiness strategy.

The Rev. Mark Jones, its worship minister since 2002, told reporters assembled outside the church: "People cannot stop living their lives. They cannot be paralyzed with fear."

The sprawling grounds of the church are on the east edge of Maryville, tucked between farmland and an unfinished subdivision.

The website says Fred Winters is the former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association and an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

T.J. Beckman, a church member whose twin 12-year-old sons, Jordan and Canaan, were baptized by Winters last fall, described him as a "man of courage and integrity" who dedicated his life to the church.

"He is a modern-day martyr," said Beckman, 47, of Collinsville. "We're shattered, shocked by this heinous crime, but we know there is hope beyond this."

Beckman said Winters' death should bring the church's members closer.

"This is not the end of this church," she said. "I think this church is going to grow even stronger. We have that hope."

Posts: 571 | From Massachusetts | Registered: Oct 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LymeNet Contributor
Member # 17846

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Sorry, yes, it was already mentioned over here:

Posts: 571 | From Massachusetts | Registered: Oct 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Frequent Contributor (1K+ posts)
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Yes, I saw this already.

Funny, our news here hasn't said a word about the man's mental state, let alone Lyme disease.

Posts: 1682 | From Dillsburg, PA | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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That's a shame. I hate to say this, Lyme may get a little attention from this tragedy. I am impressed they mentioned lyme. Sad
Posts: 49 | From Louisiana | Registered: Mar 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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