On Aug. 7, Brian Lewis lost his brother, Hamilton rock star Gord Lewis, and — in some ways — his nephew Jon Lewis as well.
It was the day last summer that Gord, 65, was found dead in his apartment. His son Jon was later charged within the killing.
The Teenage Head guitarist’s death in Hamilton shook the town and the music world, but hit Brian’s family harder than anyone else.
“We’re devastated,” he said.
“There have been so many conflicting emotions and thoughts … we miss him and Jonny,” Lewis told CBC Hamilton.
Months later, in December, Jon was found not criminally accountable for the killing due to his mental state.
CBC Hamilton also previously reported on Jon’s mental health issues. He lives with schizoaffective disorder, in accordance with Brian.
The killing is seemingly an exception to the rule as quite a few studies, including a 2013 study from the American Public Health Association, indicate individuals with diagnosed mental disorders rarely commit violent acts.
Jon’s family and his lawyer say it is a case of somebody falling through the cracks and being unable to search out support.
With Jon in a hospital indefinitely and Gord dead, Brian and others try to select up the pieces of their fractured family.
“The family is split as to their attitudes toward what happened and it’s pretty devastating to our unit,” Brian told CBC Hamilton after the court ruling.
There’s also a probability, Brian said, for the family to bring awareness to people in similar situations to Jon.
Jon tried to get medical care last summer
Dr. Joseph Carl Ferencz testified in court in late December. The expert in forensic psychiatry accomplished Jon’s assessment report during his stay at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton after killing Gord.
The court heard Jon, 42, has a history of mental illness that began across the time he was 30. He wound up in St. Joseph’s several times within the years before the killing.
Ferencz said Jon wasn’t repeatedly taking medication and hadn’t had psychiatric care in a 12 months leading as much as the killing.
He said Jon had increasingly intense delusions within the weeks before Gord died. Ferencz said Jon believed people were taking control of his father and his dad was poisoning him with anthrax.
That 12 months, Gord also indicated Jon was “losing touch with reality” and was getting involved Jon might harm him.
Ferencz said Jon became “extremely distressed and his delusions became all encompassing” around July 28, which led Jon to make 10 attempts to get care at emergency rooms from that day to Aug. 4.
Three of those attempts were at St. Joseph’s, however the court heard he either declined a bed in crisis care or left before being assessed.
Six other attempts were at different hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area where he sought medication for anthrax poisoning. He also ended up at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on Aug. 1, but eventually got discharged.
It fed into Jon’s delusions, and he began believing the group of individuals attempting to kill him were connected to the hospitals, Ferencz said.
Uncle took Jon in before killing
Brian said that within the week leading as much as Gord’s death, Jon sent Brian “desperate pleas for help.”
Gord’s brother said he brought Jon to his home, they usually stayed up for a lot of the night.
Brian said they were set to go to a clinic together the subsequent morning, but Jon opted to go home as an alternative.
“The last I heard from him was a note from him on Friday saying, ‘I like you uncle Brian,'” Brian said.
“I replied and the subsequent thing was, Sunday night, the police showed up at my apartment.”
Court heard the Hamilton Spectator contacted police on Aug. 7 after Jon sent a series of incoherent emails to local media, including CBC Hamilton, stating his father was dead and decaying.
When officers visited the apartment at 175 Catharine St. S., they spoke to Jon and located Gord’s body.
An autopsy determined Jon stabbed Gord 43 times.
Ferencz said Jon hadn’t left the apartment because he was still coping with delusions that made him think someone would attempt to kill him. Jon also didn’t call the police because he thought they were involved within the supposed plot to kill him.
Now, Jon is incarcerated in hospital indefinitely. Larissa Fedak, Jon’s lawyer, said it’ll be years before Jon is discharged.
Family wants to boost mental health awareness
Brian said the situation has driven him and his wife to wish to try to boost mental health awareness not directly.
“My wife particularly is enthusiastic about doing something. How that appears, we do not know yet … I do not learn about a silver lining, but it surely might do something, ” he said.
Brian also has a broader message for the general public.
“If someone lives with someone who experiences and opens up about any mental health illness, take it seriously. Find out about it, check with the person, research so you’ll be able to educate yourself and advocate for that person,” he said.
“When doing so, don’t stop pushing, and once you think you’ve got given up, you think that you’ve got exhausted yourself, you are taking yet one more step … because you only do not know what the opposite person goes through.”
When you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, there’s help on the market: