Tammy Large and her mother, Betty Jones left the Victoria courthouse Tuesday after Large’s nephew was found not criminally responsible for the murder of his mother, 47-year old Heather Jones.
“We wanted to make sure that we said that we love him. It’s important that we love him. We’ve lost him so we forgave him a long time ago because we were not mad at him,” Large said.
In a case BC Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Power describes as tragic, 22-year-old Martin Vandenberg described hearing voices telling him they were going to rape and kill him, and his mother.
Psychotic, and delusional, Vandenberg believed killing her would save her from a worse fate. Court heard on Dec. 6, 2017, he beat her with an aluminum baseball bat, dragged her down the stairs into the bathroom, and covered her up with laundry. The next day, his aunt and grandmother came over looking for Heather. They found her and her two dogs also beaten to death.
Justice Power found Vandenberg did commit the crime but found him not responsible by reason of a mental disorder.
Forty-seven-year old Heather Jones ran a taxi company, with eight employees, on Salt Spring Island. The day before the murder, his father took Vandenberg to Lady Minto Hospital for treatment for his mental health problems. But after waiting for three hours to see a worker, Vandenberg changed his mind, and left the hospital. The next day he killed his mother.
“Too long and nobody ever got the hint. It didn’t click on anybody. Martin was already sick and tired of being in the hospital. He was already sick and tired of being in the hospital. He was walking to the door,” Vandenberg told CHEK News on Dec. 8, 2017.
His family now just wants Vandenberg to finally get the help he desperately needs.
“We’re just thankful that Martin’s getting the mental health that he deserves, and that he needs. And that this is what Heather wanted. And she fought to get him some help,” Large said.
Martin Vandenberg will remain in a forensic psychiatric hospital on the Lower Mainland and his case will be reviewed in 45 days.
This afternoon Island Health issued this statement:
“Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss anything about this specific case. This was a devastating loss for the entire community, including medical and Island Health staff. Emergency care is available 24-hours a day at Lady Minto Hospital for anyone who requires it, whether it is mental health or a broken bone. In general, when an individual presents at Lady Minto Hospital with a mental health challenge, they are assessed by the clinical team, which includes a mental health clinician. The amount of time that assessment takes varies on a case-by-case basis. Following an assessment, an appropriate care plan is mutually agreed upon between the care team and the individual. Often, individuals can be referred to next day community-based supports. On Salt Spring Island, Island Health offers community-based mental health case management services, counselling and outreach, and crisis response. Lady Minto Hospital also has a psychiatric observation unit.”