Dr. Robert Mendoza Interviewed on the Warning Signs of Violence

Patriot Ledger, The (Quincy, MA)

Warning Signs of Violence

There Were Ominous Indicators in Weymouth Murder Suspect’s Past
Christian Schiavone; The Patriot Ledger

WEYMOUTH- A history’ of aggressive behavior. Worsening symptoms of severe mental illness. Unresponsiveness to treatment or unwillingness to be treated. Taken together, those faciors are cause for heightened worry that someone with a serious mental illness will become violent, experts say. And they’re all pieces of the story prosecutors, family friends and neighbors have painted of Donald Rudolph, the 18-year-old Weymouth man charged with bludgeoning his sister, his mother and her boyfriend in their 10 Upland Road home.

Only a tiny fraction of people who suffer from illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder ever become violent, said Dr. Robert Mendoza, a forensic psychologist and owner of Boston Forensic Associates in Dedham. But he said Rudolph’s history should have raised concerns long before police discovered the grisly triple murder scene Nov. 10.

“The question really wouldn’t be would he become violent. The question would be when would he become violent again,” Mendoza said. “Clearly, violence was on the menu, given his clinical status as we know it.”

Long before police charged Rudolph with the brutal killings of Paula Rudolph, 50, Caylin Rudolph, 24, and Frederick Medina, 52, he had a history of antisocial behavior and scrapes with the law, according to court records.

Neighbors said they feared him because of his odd and sometimes threatening behavior. Between April and September, he was charged with shooting two people with a BB gun, selling marijuana and trying to break into a home to collect a drug debt, according to court and Quincy police records. In the last instance, he allegedly told police he was schizophrenic and paranoid, and that he carried a hammer in case he ran into the police because they made him nervous.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in all three cases Sept. 14 and was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to immediately begin mental health treatment.

On Nov. 10, police were called to his mother’s home on Upland Road- where he was no longer living- and found Medina bludgeoned and stabbed with a Beanie Baby stuffed in his mouth in the living room. The bodies of Caylin and Paula Rudolph were found in the garage. Both had been bludgeoned and Caylin had been stabbed.

Police found a hammer and a bloody knife at the scene.

When Rudolph was arraigned on murder charges Nov. 14, his attorney, John Darrell, said he was experiencing hallucinations and had no memory of the night of the murders. He is being held without bail at Bridgewater State Hospital, where he will undergo a mental health evaluation.

The most glaring aspect of his record is the escalation in violent behavior, said Dr. Nancy Rappaport, a psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. “The biggest thing is that past violence predicts future violence,” she said. “If you add in substance abuse, impulsivity and mental illness, that’s going to increase the concern.”

Rudolph may have had difficulty coping with his mental illness partly because of his age.

“He’s sort of at the age where he may have been ill for a few years,” said Dr. Elizabeth Englander, a professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University. “He hasn’t been ill with this his whole life, and the odds are he’s adjusting to it.”

In most multiple-murder cases, the killers plan their crimes, said James Fox, a Northeastern University professor of criminology who has written several books on mass murderers. But premeditation may be less clear cases that involve mental illness.

“The big (questions are): why did he go there, since he wasn’t living there, and were the weapons brought or found in the home?” Fox said. “Even if it’s more spontaneous, there’s a history, regardless. Multiple murderers tend to be people who have long-term history of failure, frustration and disappointment. They tend to have limited support systems in their lives.”

Christian Schiavone may be reached at cschiavone@ledger.com.

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Warning Signs