Purdie ruled mentally ill, will be committed

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 5, 2001

WASECA – Eric Purdie was mentally ill when he killed his mother in September, and cannot be held criminally responsible for the crime, a judge ruled Thursday.

Friday, January 05, 2001

WASECA – Eric Purdie was mentally ill when he killed his mother in September, and cannot be held criminally responsible for the crime, a judge ruled Thursday.

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Charges of second-degree murder against Purdie, 37, of New Richland, were dropped Thursday because of Purdie’s mental-illness defense. After reviewing the results of psychological evaluations and hearing testimony from psychiatrists and law-enforcement officials, Waseca County Judge Renee L.Worke ordered Purdie committed to St. Peter Regional Security Hospital, where he will remain for indefinitely – possibly for the rest of his life.

&uot;The first day of his arrival it appeared to be pretty clear that a mental illness defense would be available to him,&uot; said Dr. Karen Bruggemeyer, staff forensic psychiatrist at the Regional Treatment Center.

Purdie suffers from bipolar schizo-affective disorder, which is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, or manic depression. He had been hospitalized for psychotic episodes twice before the death of his mother, Bruggemeyer said.

Combination disorders do not respond well to treatment, she said. In addition, Purdie has significant substance abuse problems and a dependent personality disorder.

&uot;He essentially relied upon his mother for all aspects of his life,&uot; she said.

Purdie was hit by a car as a young teenager, and walks with a limp. He graduated high school and went to truck driving school, but has never worked as a truck driver.

&uot;In fact, he’s had a very scant employment history,&uot; Bruggemeyer said.

Purdie had no real intensive relationships in addition to his mother, and spent a great deal of time alone, she said. He liked to hunt and fish, or go to bars.

&uot;Mr. Purdie had very little in his history to suggest that he was a violent man outside of when he was mentally ill,&uot; Bruggemeyer said.

Purdie was placed in the St. Peter facility on Sept. 17 at the request of Waseca County Jail staff, after being apprehended in connection with the shooting death of his mother.

&uot;His behaviors at the jail were quite concerning,&uot; Bruggemeyer said.

Purdie was held in an isolation room at the Waseca County jail for much of the day on Sept. 17.

&uot;He was having outbursts, yelling, screaming, hitting the walls, drawing attention to himself,&uot; said Waseca County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Brad Mullbrath.

Purdie repeatedly hit his head against the walls, door and floor, and was yelling &uot;Kill, kill, kill,&uot; and &uot;Boom,&uot; Mullbrath said.

After being examined and sedated by a medical doctor, Purdie was transferred to the regional security hospital where he was placed in restraints.

&uot;When I first introduced myself to Mr. Purdie he said very quickly that he had shot his mother,&uot; Bruggemeyer said.

&uot;He told me he believed his mother was trying to kill him, and he needed to kill her before she killed him,&uot; she said. Purdie told doctors he believed his mother was replaced by communists sent to kill him.

Purdie said he was sorry for what he had done, but his thoughts were disorganized and hard to follow, she said. His speech was rambling and tangential. His mood was erratic and he was religiously preoccupied, making statements that he had just found God, that he was God or that he was God and the devil.

Purdie’s treatment at the security hospital is likely to be long-term, but the eventual goal is to return him to the community. If he shows sufficient progress in handling his mental illness, he may request to move to an open hospital.

&uot;Every step of the way, for a person committed as mentally ill and dangerous, has to be approved,&uot; she said.

There is no time-frame for returning to the community, and Purdie would never have to if he doesn’t show sufficient progress, she said.

&uot;This is an indeterminate commitment,&uot; she said.

Purdie was taken into custody after an altercation with police Sept. 17. His mother was found dead of shotgun wounds in their New Richland apartment.

Relatives of Eric and Margaret Purdie have supported Eric since his mother’s death, Bruggemeyer said.

&uot;They’ve come to visit him. I’ve spoken with both of his sisters.&uot; she said. &uot;The staff says they have been very supportive of him.&uot;

The family approved of the court’s decision, said Collins. At their request, he read a statement from the family before the court.

&uot;The family feels that today’s court ruling is the best for all involved, for his family and friends, and for the memory of Margaret Purdie,&uot; it read.