Thursday, November 5, 2015

Labor commissioner's widow describes night of killing and his last words she heard - Tulsa World: Capitol Report

OKLAHOMA CITY — Cathy Costello said she and her husband, Mark, spent years trying to help their son, Christian, in his struggle with mental illness.
Those efforts ended Aug. 23 in a tragic meeting at a Braum’s in Oklahoma City.
Christian had asked to speak with Mark alone in the ice cream shop about Christian’s girlfriend, Cathy Costello said.
Cathy Costello went outside to wait. As she sat in the car texting their daughter, her husband slammed his hands on the car window, she said.
“I looked up. He was, I thought, covered in a bucket of paint. And the last words I heard him say were ‘call 911,’ ” Cathy Costello told state lawmakers on Tuesday during an interim study on assisted outpatient treatment for those who have a mental illness.
She then realized Mark Costello’s throat had been slashed, she said.
“I hopped out of the car,” she said. “And there was my son with a knife and my husband, like a wounded deer, stumbling away. And I am screaming at the 20 people standing there to help me. Call 911.”
She said she put her arms between her son and husband and begged Christian to stop.
“And he takes the knife and he puts it at my throat and said, ‘Get back, Mom,’ ” she said. “I thought if he cuts my throat, I can’t help Mark.”
She got Mark Costello inside the vehicle. He had been stabbed 17 times, including three wounds to the face, once to the head and several to the chest and back, she said.
“And I put my arms around Mark,” she said. “And I put my hand on his neck thinking I needed to put pressure on the wound. I knew he was dying. I could hear his lungs collapsing. And I whispered in his ear, ‘I love you. May God forgive you of your sins. Be prepared to go to heaven and meet your maker. Hold on sweetheart. You are going to make it.’ I knew he wasn’t.”
Police said Christian Costello, 26, stabbed his father repeatedly inside and outside the ice cream store. The 59-year-old state Labor Commissioner died that night at a hospital.
Christian had called his parents seeking the meeting, Cathy Costello said. They met at Braum’s, but went to a cafeteria where Christian told them he was off his medication, which caused alarm, she said. They returned to Braum’s, where the attack, occurred, she said.
Christian was diagnosed with mental illness eight years ago, Cathy Costello said.
Prior to the development of his illness, he was loving, kind, considerate and never violent, she said. He had a love for God, his mother said. Some suggested he would be a priest, she said.
As his adolescence came and went, the family began to notice that he would pace around, talk to himself and have arguments with someone in the shower, Cathy Costello said.
He would go with her to the doctor and take the medication, but he was always leery of it, she said. He thought the medication was poison, she said.
When he was on the medication, he would tell her that he had acted crazy off of it and said some weird things, urging her to make sure he took the medication because it made him feel better, she said.
Off the medication, her son believed his parents were evil, spying on him and had put cameras in his apartment and car, she said.
The family spent $150,000 on treatment that included 10 trips to facilities in and out of the state, she said.
She said Mark Costello tried to save his son day in and day out.
“The man was on his knees every day praying for his son, every day praying for a solution,” Cathy Costello said. “He wouldn’t give up.”
Terri White, Commissioner for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said assisted outpatient treatment, which is court ordered, requires a substantial investment of resources, but will reduce costs in other areas, such as future hospitalizations.
Cathy Costello has asked Gov. Mary Fallin to appoint her as labor commissioner, a position she hopes to use to raise awareness about mental illness.
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Labor commissioner's widow describes night of killing and his last words she heard - Tulsa World: Capitol Report

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