Jere Melo Fort Bragg Murder: Father Says Son May Have Killed Before


A Family's Fear

"I learned what schizophrenia was … way, way too late," Bassler said. "I'm so frustrated with the system, I'm telling you this didn't have to happen."

Bassler told his daughter had written a letter to the court begging for her brother to get help earlier this year after Aaron Bassler had gotten arrested for drunk driving. And James Bassler had written a letter to the medical staff at the jail, distributing copies to his son's public defender and the Sheriff's office.

"We tried to alert the authorities – basically the way I said it, I still have a copy of the letter, 'We fear for his safety, the family's safety and community's safety,' if this mental illness isn't addressed," Bassler said.

He reportedly received no answer.

The Sheriff's office was not immediately available for comment.

It wasn't the first time he said his family had tried to get law enforcement officials to pay attention to Aaron Bassler's mental health.

"He has a long, long rap sheet," Bassler said.

About two and half years ago, Bassler said, his son caused a bomb scare at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco after leaving packages "with strange drawings and writings," described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "drawings of red stars and writings that referred to the 'Martian military.'"

"They released him to his mother," Bassler said. "Whatever they determined, whatever analysis they did, they kept it to themselves. He was basically let back into the community."

At one point within the past year, after confronting his son about a cooking fire that could have spread to other people's homes, his son "just blew up and threatened to take my life, and he just snapped into a real angry, scary mood," Bassler said, explaining his son's erratic behavior had been so commonplace that all of the odd and frightening moments had blended together, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when each episode happened.

"How can the mentally ill that don't think anything's wrong with them … how can they be helped if no one communicates?" he asked.

Now, Bassler says it's too late for his son -- who was a "normal child" until he started exhibiting erratic behavior at age 19 -- to get the help he needs.

"I really do believe it's too late for him. I worry as much or more about the prospect of losing another inocent life as I do about his sad future," Bassler said.

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