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Killer's parents call NH mental health services 'appalling'
Among the hundreds of pages of court papers released last week at the request of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Spader's parents, Steven and Christine, detailed their son's series of counseling sessions, hospitalizations and run-ins with the law.
"I mean, I feel for the families. But obviously we've tried to do a lot of stuff in the mental health area here in New Hampshire, and it's been a serious letdown. It's just appalling how poor it is here in this state, just absolutely appalling," he said.
"But the fact that that didn't work doesn't mean the system failed," Strelzin said in an interview last week. "It simply means you had someone who was not amenable to treatment or change because he didn't want to. He chose his path because he liked it."
Albert Drukteinis wrote that "various diagnoses of a mental disorder had been proposed prior to Mr. Spader's involvement in the crime on 10/04/09, and he was not just a troubled adolescent who was overlooked. Instead, he had numerous evaluations and exposures to mental health treatment programs and providers...."
"That reality combined with what sounds to me a fairly desperate need to make himself the center of this reality and engage like-minded peers in this pattern of activity that he hoped would be exhilarating and would make him feel important contributed substantially to a murder and an attempted murder that on all levels I found simply horrific," he said.
Mrs. Spader said she has read about her son's case on the Internet, but never asked him directly about what happened that night.
Growing up, Spader, who made the honor roll in grade school, shaved his head for the role of Daddy Warbucks in the musical "Annie" during eighth grade and spent hours memorizing his lines. His class voted him "The Most Dramatic." He loved video games and Harry Potter.
Court records show the teen, who was born with traces of marijuana and cocaine in his system, began mental health counseling that year. He had repeated episodes of not taking prescribed medication, running away from home and being admitted to hospitals and treatment centers, according to his parents.
Nearly two years after Spader was adopted, a half-brother of Spader's almost moved in with the family when his biological mother asked the Spaders to take another child she was about to deliver. But she was incarcerated and the birth father took custody of the newborn, according to Spader's mother.
Spader and four friends were convicted in connection with the murder. Spader is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
While awaiting trial at the Valley Street Jail, Spader hatched a plan: make money selling smuggled-in drugs and from writing a book, then pull off an escape.
"He still asks about his dog a lot," she said in her deposition, referring to a rat terrier named Spike.
"We have all apologized to each other about the things that went wrong," she said in her summary. "He said he felt like a puppet and we were pulling the strings."
Meanwhile, his parents keep searching for answers.
"You know, certainly the crime is just beyond the scope of my imagination," Mr. Spader said in his deposition. "And, you know, we've tried to do what we can. Could we have done more? I don't know. That's a question I keep asking myself."
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