Woman who lived in group home with Kasey Riley & sister of the alleged murderer both point to failings of New Hampshire's underfunded mental health system
Published DateLACONIA — The N.H. State Medical Examiner said yesterday that Zachary March 27, formerly of 24 McGrath St. died from a compression of his neck with a fractured larynx.
Kasey Riley, 19, also of 24 McGrath St. has been charged with one-count of second-degree homicide in connection with March's death and is being held without bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections.
In a media release issued this week through the N.H Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health, Riley's sister, Debra Riley, said he had just been released from the New Hampshire State Hospital and has struggled with mental illness for his entire life.
"Last Tuesday," she wrote, "He sought help for himself at Lakes Region General Hospital. She said there were no beds available at the N.H. State Hospital in Concord so he waited in portion of the emergency room at LRGH, as is standard practice.
"He was transported to N.H. State Hospital Thursday afternoon," she continued. She said she visited him Thursday afternoon in the state hospital and he appeared "disheveled."
Riley's sister said her brother was released Friday and she spoke to him "several times over the weekend" and he didn't appear to be agitated or upset.
Yesterday at a Belknap County Commissioner's meeting, Commissioner Ed Philpot, while speaking about expanded Medicaid and treating mental illness, said that as of last week, 10 of the 17 emergency room bays in LRGH's Emergency Room were occupied by people who were waiting for beds at the New Hampshire State Hospital. The patients, said Philpot, were taken to N.H. State Hospital so LRGH could have the ER beds for Motorcycle Week.
Before Riley moved to the Genesis Behavioral Health support home on McGrath St. he lived in an apartment at 21 Academy Street.
According to one of the other people who lives in the same apartment building, Riley "needs help."
The resident, who did not want to be identified by name, said Riley lived alone in one of the apartments on Academy Street and had been there for six to eight months before he moved to McGrath Street.
"Everybody in the building knew he was going to crack," said the resident, who added that Riley was actually a pretty nice kid who was lonely and may have abused his medication. She said the people who live in the building are "devastated" by what happened.
She said Riley fell one night and when asked about it the next day, said he took too much of his medicines.
"I know he ran short sometimes," she said, remembering one time when he went five days without one of his medications while waiting for the prescription to renew.
She also said people who were near his own age often "picked on him" and that he was close to an older woman who used to live near him and watched out for him.
"This could have been stopped," she said, referring to March's murder. "They let him out (of the State Hospital) and they put him with other people (the support home) who have their own problems."
When she saw his picture from the video arraignment she said he looked confused.
"I don't think he has a clue," she said. "I want to see him get the help he needs."
She also said she sends her thoughts and sympathy to March's family.
"I didn't know him but this didn't need to happen," she said.