Hate crime suspect's mother speaks out

by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:


SHORELINE, Wash. - Long before her middle son allegedly grabbed a stranger and slammed his head into a pole - long before her son reportedly mumbled racist things about the man he was beating - and long before her son sat in King County Jail, facing charges of assault, Cordelia Packard knew the day might eventually come. 

For the past two years, she says she's watched her 21-year-old, Dion Packard, dissolving into his own world. He is schizophrenic. It started with his roommates saying he was acting "weird."  Then, we he moved back home, it progressed to hours upon hours spent running his hands along his closet door. 

Eventually, he seemed to internalize the battles he waged through video games.  And for the past few months, he'd taken to walking his parents' property, out "on watch."  Sometimes he was armed with a stick.  Once he got a hold of a hunting knife.  When his mom tried to take it from him, he threatened her. 

"I've had to hide all my butcher knives, all my steak knives, all my butter knives," Cordelia Packard explained.

On Monday night, she sat in the middle of her living room, surrounded by paperwork that documents a rough two years. Dion has been in and out of hospitals, off and on various drugs. Cordelia Packard was so troubled by his behavior, she had him committed to Fairfax Hospital in Kirkland. On Oct. 23, they discharged him. Packard says they told her they could not hold him any longer against his will.

"When they said they were going to let him out, I said you've got to be kidding," she said.

She has the paperwork from his release.  It includes directions for Dion, explaining how he can calm himself down if he feels like he is losing control.  On the line where he was supposed to sign it, it says only "patient refuses to sign."  Cordelia knew she couldn't control him. Her younger son had even installed a lock on his bedroom door for protection.

Three days later, her fears were realized. 

That's when Dion allegedly grabbed a complete stranger along Ballinger Road in Shoreline, smashed the man's head into a pole, and then kicked him repeatedly.  Eyewitness Michael Alford said, "It looked to me like he was going to actually throw him into the oncoming traffic that was coming the other direction." 

Alford and others ran to help the victim.  When they got to Dion, Alford said the young man was angry.

"He said, 'Why are you helping him? Don't you know this man's Japanese? Don't you know what we did for them in Vietnam?' Totally crazy talk like that that really made no sense."

Cordelia says it was crazy talk.  Her son needs serious help, and she doesn't know how to get it for him.  She knows she can't control him.  "It's been hard, really hard."  And it's not getting any easier.

Dion Packard is in the King County Jail on assault and malicious mischief charges.

KIRO 7 has a call into Fairfax Hospital to talk about the circumstances surrounding his release.

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