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Indybay Feature
Aaron Steichen Murder Inquiry
by Robert Maxim
Friday Oct 16th, 2020 9:46 AM
Mandated reporters and first responders repeatedly and willfully fail to provide emergency mental health intervention for Aaron's schizophrenic brother, Jacob. The end result is the death of a loved one after a 5 week escalation spanning a speculated 8 calls to authorities.
Mandated reporters and first responders repeatedly and willfully fail to provide emergency mental health intervention for Aaron's schizophrenic brother, Jacob. The end result is the death of a loved one after a 5 week escalation spanning a speculated 8 calls to authorities.

This story was written by Aaron's mother, Beverly Steichen. I am disseminating this story to every possible media outlet.

Aaron’s Story
Aaron was planning a wonderful beach banquet and bonfire to surprise his mother for her 60th birthday. I am Aaron’s mother and that birthday is today. Aaron could not be here with us today.
Aaron was born in the summer of 1981, the first child of his 20-year-old mother and his father. He was the first grandchild to all his grandparents. He was the first of his set of 20 cousins. He has been a cherished part of a very loving family for almost 40 years. When Aaron was almost two, he was joined by his beautiful sister, Amberley who is here today, and three years later by his beloved brother Jacob (whose picture you may have seen this week on the cover of the Lost Coast Outpost); when Aaron was almost six he was blessed by his youngest brother Luke who is also here today. Aaron was present at the birth of every one of his brothers and sister, and he was a protective loving force and a role model as they all grew up together. When Aaron was eleven years old his mom became a single mother, and the next years of life for the family were financially difficult and challenging. Where money and resources were scarce, love, education, nurturing, and laughter were abundant. The difficulty of these next years, leading to his adulthood, helped forge and create the amazing man that Aaron Steichen was to become.

From the time he could hold a crayon, Aaron was an artist—always talented beyond his years, never talented enough to satisfy himself or to capture the beauty he could see in his amazing mind. His art was a constant, growing craft, and it never, ever left him. When people would ask him, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” Aaron always said, “an artist.” Grownups would often correct him and say, “Art is a hobby, son. What ‘job’ are you going to have?” then he would often look away since he had just told them. He would be an artist.

At 12, Aaron began delivering the local newspaper 7 days a week… a pitiful wage for much hard work, and at 14, wanting to get contact lenses that his mom could not afford, Aaron printed out 100 flyers announcing “Aaron’s Lawn Services” and he dropped these flyers on 100 porches around his neighborhood. He began receiving phone calls for work, and started his 2 year career in yard care. Three days of the week, he would walk away from his home early to his appointments, pushing an old lawnmower in front of him with a cheap edger tool across his shoulders, and he would return late in the afternoons, sweaty and exhausted, but with around 100 dollars in his pocket. This work experience was part of his homeschool education, from which he also developed into an amazing history buff and social justice advocate, with stellar writing skills and a talent for critical thinking and argumentation. Seeing the whole world as his classroom, he never stopped studying in many areas, leaning toward philosophy, world culture, and socio-economic politics. For two or three years in his youth, he worked at menial jobs, until at 19 he started his apprenticeship into the tattoo industry, where he would become the professional artist he had always said he would be. There are many pieces of Aaron’s art in this crowd today, although Aaron could not be here with us.

Through a very challenging single-parent childhood, through difficult times and happy, memorable times—Aaron’s two younger brothers always followed his lead. When they were small and they looked up to their big brother. From lego-building, to riding bikes, all the way to world travel, Aaron was the eldest brother who finally became one of four adult siblings who understood each other and were bound by a strong love that had been forged through the challenges they had faced together. Friends, family, and sometimes total strangers would often mention the evident, palpable love and unity of this set of siblings and their mother. Whether right or wrong, Aaron always loved his mom dearly and said that she was the strongest person he knew. Whether right or wrong, Aaron said one day last week that everything he is, he owed to his beloved mother. Aaron’s mom always felt that she’d been blessed with the most wonderful children that she did not deserve.

Skipping many rich and eventful years and details which create the complex tapestry of a life and a family… Aaron eventually became a world traveler, and he introduced the important necessity of travel to his family. He took his mother to Italy, Austria, and Germany; he lived abroad working as an artist in Barcelona, London, Berlin, Bangkok, and both the east and west coasts of the US. He brought his sister, his brother Jake, and also their mother to stay with him in Berlin at different times, he traveled throughout Southeast Asia with his brother Jacob, and through Spain, Portugal, and Hungary with his brother Luke.

Aaron had a lifelong dream of buying a piece of land for his family, but most especially for his mother to have security and a place to call home. He had recently accumulated the means for making a full payment on this property and was joyfully looking forward to being a land owner within the year.

Like Aaron, his brother Jake is an artist too, and Jake also caught the wanderlust for world travel from Aaron; Jake traveled on his own in several countries. During some of Jake’s travels he seems to have encountered violent or traumatic incidents, triggering or exacerbating schizophrenia, which continued to torment Jake off and on for years. The entire family was concerned and wanted to help Jake with love, security, and family unity. Mental health care was practically impossible to find.

Skipping more important details and life events… Jake eventually had a severe mental health crisis leading to his arrest, charges, brief imprisonment, excessive legal fees, and medication. Upon Jake’s release, and for his recovery, with his brother Luke already living here, everyone in the family moved to Arcata, to be together as a strong support structure for Jacob. This is claimed to be, by professionals, the most hopeful stabilizing factor for victims of mental illness. Jake’s family, including his older brother Aaron, who could not be here with us today, surrounded him with love and security.

Skipping past many important life events… during recent travel in Japan and Hawaii, Jake experienced extreme trauma from multiple factors, sending him into another round of schizophrenia. He returned home in full psychotic crisis, and the family once again circled the wagons to support Jake. At this time the difficult journey of finding mental health care in our current culture started to become clear to Jake and Aaron’s family.
Aaron loved his brother Jake so much that he moved back to Humboldt with his beautiful lady, to build their life together near his family, where Aaron could be close by to help with his Jake’s recovery. Aaron and Anisha found their dream home… exactly the kind of home Aaron has always envisioned. They began making their plans for growing old together.
As Jake wavered then began a steep descent into serious crisis, the family reached out desperately to local support and agencies including the Humboldt County Mental Health services and Arcata Police Department. I want to be clear that every human being who spoke with us or tried to work with us were quite compassionate and very humane. Everyone we spoke to agreed that Jacob was gravely disabled and desperately needed swift mental health intervention. These phone calls and conversations began in July. Jake eventually locked himself in his room, totally fearing that others in the family or invaders from outside of the family were a real and present danger to him. He was no longer the grounded Jake of our common reality, but was a frightened, paranoid victim of a mental illness in a culture where help is not considered a basic human right. Law enforcement were called in the first time on August 18, 2020 because in our state of California, in our liberal county of Humboldt, in our intellectually driven town of Arcata, California—the only agency available to help a traumatized person with a diagnosed mental illness are uniformed police officers with flashing lights carrying guns. At this time, Jacob had been in his room with the door barricaded for over 4 days, not coming out for anything. Not coming out for ANYTHING for four days.

The Arcata Police Department officers who came out were in uniform and accompanied by six police cars all with lights flashing. Jake was terrified and further traumatized. Both officers claimed to smell feces and urine from inside the room; both officers agreed that Jake was GRAVELY DISABLED, but both officers drove away after talking with Jake for over an hour trying to persuade a paranoid, endangered, mentally ill man to open the door and come out on his own. They drove away. They walked to their cars and drove away. Jacob destroyed all sense of any order at all inside his caged living space by pushing furniture and blankets into a larger barricade for his door. He stayed inside that room for the next four weeks, without opening the door.

Please do not judge my family too harshly, especially based on assumptions you may have that would prove untrue anyway. You do not know unless you have been there and tried to get the system to work for you. We were forbidden to break the door down, or to force Jake by any means to leave his room by our will and against his will. We were told to do so would be committing felony offenses for which we could be charged. We were told to “trust the system”; “it takes time”; “the case is building”; “best to let it escalate.”
Jake was in full schizophrenic crisis and unable to meet his own basic needs including any form of hygiene; when the Arcata Police Department, the only agency available to us, was asked if that was enough to force Jake from his room, they said, “NO.” Jake lit fires in his room, burned walls, melted window blinds, and threw burning material in glass jars out onto the yard and sidewalk, where the glass shattered and burning material was released; when the Arcata Police Department, the only agency available to us, was asked if that was enough to force Jake from his room, they said, “NO.” Jake screamed threats such as, “Get far from me if you value your life! You have outlived your reason to exist!” to his mother who shared the same home; when the Arcata Police Department, the only agency available to us, was asked if that was enough to force Jake from his room, they said, “NO.” Jacob hammered with a heavy rock weight directly onto an electrical outlet… making the lights flicker in the house, until he struck the blow that knocked out all the electricity in the house; when the Arcata Police Department, the only agency available to us, was asked if that was enough to force Jake from his room, they said, “NO.” Jake continued lighting fires in his room, burning plastic, and sometimes coughing violently for several hours from the toxic fumes of the plastic he was burning inside the small, enclosed room; when the Arcata Police Department, the only agency available to us, was asked if that was enough to force Jake from his room, they said, “NO.”

We were informed that every agency in the county had become aware of Jake’s situation, but would any agency go into Jake’s room and bring him out for the mental health care that he so obviously and blatantly needed? NO.
After many phone calls, some wellness checks where the Arcata Police Department came out to talk to, and further traumatize Jake, but would drive away because Jake did not want to willingly come out, also a desperate request for a wellness check that was refused because the officer in charge simply “didn’t see the point,” we were finally told that a three person team with “a strong record of success in these cases” would be sent out…next Wednesday.

Now please follow closely here.

On Thursday, September 17th (nine days before their mom’s 60th birthday) Aaron— a core part of the family intervention team who had been meeting daily to find the help Jacob needs—learned along with Amberley, Luke, their mom and uncle David that a special team would be sent who had a good chance of success in getting Jake out and to the mental health care he needs.

On Friday, September 18th (eight days before their mom’s 60th birthday) Aaron, Amberley, Luke, their Mom, and Uncle Dave called for a wellness check on Jake due to dangerous behavior, including flaming material being thrown from his window and landing next to the dry, wooden frame of the house. The officer on the 911 call “didn’t see a point” in coming out. He might try to get Wednesday’s hopeful team meeting moved to Monday.

On Saturday, September 19th (one week before her 60th birthday) Aaron, Amberley, Jake, and Luke’s mom texted everyone and said, it was a remarkably peaceful night and morning, so she wanted all of them to take a self-care day and do something fun. She would be on standby today.

On Sunday, September 20th (six days before their mom’s 60th birthday), Aaron, Amberley, and Luke came to the house to spend family time, eating food, playing board games, and being there for each other and Jake. They were all worried for Jake’s safety: Jacob their beloved brother. After a short nap, I said I would like to take a short drive to return a phone call to a friend. I said, I would be back in half an hour. Aaron, his fiancé Anisha, and Amberley were playing cribbage at the family kitchen table when I left.
Last Sunday, at 7:11 I received a text from Amberley, “Jake wants us to leave.”
They were going to finish one more play on the cribbage game, then leave the house within 5 minutes.

Last Sunday, six days before my birthday, my son Jake dashed from his room into the kitchen where he stabbed his brother Aaron in the heart with a knife. Last Sunday, six days before my birthday, my son Aaron’s girlfriend saw her future be killed in front of her eyes; she saw the look of curious surprise in his eyes as his heart was punctured. Last Sunday, six days before my birthday, my son Aaron stood up from his mom’s kitchen table and looked strangely at his sister. Amberley said, “Aaron, are you hit?” and he said to her, “Yea, I think I’m hit” just before he fell. My precious baby girl rushed to catch her brother as he was falling and she held him in her arms last Sunday as my firstborn son died on his mother’s kitchen floor.
Aaron was planning a wonderful beach banquet and bonfire to surprise his mother for her 60th birthday. I am Aaron’s mother and that birthday is today. Aaron is not here.

Afterward: Much later, after my son was declared dead at Madd River Hospital and his girlfriend who had lived only five days with him in their new home where they had planted strawberries that morning as they talked of marriage and their future was wandering in shock trying to get in to see her love just one more time…as I returned to my home, now lit up from end to end of our city block, with police making an absolute circus on our lawn while we watched the silhouette of our beloved Jake pacing in his room, now his brother’s murderer, still refusing to come out… I saw my youngest son Luke holding his sister in his arms, trying to comfort her after she watched their brother die… I asked the nearest officer, “So, I am curious. Say Jake doesn’t want to come out. What then? Are you guys all going to pack up and drive away?” He said, “No, ma’am.” I said to him, “If you bastards had shown this kind of concern and determination when you were out last week, my firstborn would be alive and my Jake would not be a felon who just murdered his brother.”
This is the story of my son: Aaron, whose beautiful life ended last Sunday.
This is the story of my son: Jake, who has an a amazing generous heart and spirit, and deserved help, but was left in torment until he became his brother’s killer.
This is the story of my son: Luke, who tragically lost both of his brothers in a one night.
This is the story of my daughter: Amberley who will never forget watching her brother die in her arms as his blood pumped out onto her hands.
This is the story of my son’s love: Anisha, who will not get to live the dream that was taken from her.
I am Aaron’s mother!
I am Jake’s mother!
I am Luke’s mother!
I am Amberley’s mother!
I am a mother to Anisha!
I am Aaron’s mother, today is my birthday! I am not at the birthday feast my son Aaron was planning for me with his brother and sister.
It is my 60th birthday, and I WANT CHANGE TO OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM; I WANT CHANGE TO OUR MENTAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, SO THAT NO MOTHER EVER AGAIN HAS TO LIVE A LIFE LIKE I AM GOING TO LIVE FOR THE REST OF MY YEARS.




§Donate to Beverly Steichen Part Deux
by Robert Maxim
Sunday Oct 18th, 2020 9:09 AM
There is no equal access to justice. Donating to Beverly Steichen means donating to a movement which demands change and reform of our mental health system.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-beverley-steichen
by Indigo (Harmony [at] asis.com)
Wednesday Oct 21st, 2020 12:26 PM
I am a mother with an adult son suffering from schizophrenia. I also live in Humboldt county and have had a very similar experience though fortunately a better outcome. PLEASE read my story "Dancing with Chaos" by INDIGO (pen name) Available on Amazon books and other outlets.
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