State Senator Creigh Deeds Stabbed, Son Dead in Apparent Attempted Murder-Suicide

Son Gus Deeds turned away from mental hospital because there wasn't enough space

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Hyunsoo Leo Kim / Virginian-Pilot / AP

State senator Creigh Deeds, right, with his son Gus while campaigning for governor of Virginia in 2009

Updated: 3:50 p.m.

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds has improved from critical to fair condition Tuesday after sustaining stab wounds at his Bath County home. His 24-year-old son, Gus, died from a gunshot wound at the scene less than a day after receiving a emergency mental health evaluation.

“At this time we are not looking for any suspects,” said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.  “Based on the evidence we have right now, we are looking into this as an attempted murder and suicide.”

Dennis Cropper, executive director of Rockbridge County Community Services Board, said that Gus Deeds was evaluated on Monday under an Emergency Custody Order, but was released because there was no space in any of the regional psychiatric facilities, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.  Under an Emergency Custody Order, or ECO, Deeds could be held for as long as four hours to decide whether he could be held for up to 48 hours on a temporary detention order.

State law prohibits Geller from confirming or denying anything about the younger Deeds’s medical condition. “The motive and the sequence of events is the real crux and focus of the investigation,” Geller said. “Unfortunately it’s not like a TV show when you can wrap up the entire case within an hour.”

Geller said that Deeds escaped from the home he shared with his current wife and son after the stabbing, and was walking towards Route 42 when he was picked up by a cousin who lives nearby. The cousin drove him to his home and called 911.

Deeds, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2009, is being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. He was conscious and speaking when he was airlifted to the hospital, Geller said.

Gus Deeds’s remains were transported to the office of the medical examiner in Roanoke for autopsy, Geller said.

“The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking. Creigh Deeds is an exceptional and committed public servant who has always done what he believes is best for Virginia and who gives his all to public service,” Governor Bob McDonnell said in a statement.

“We join people across the Commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery,” Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, who lost to Deeds in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, said in a statement.

Mo Elleithee, Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee and a former adviser to Deeds, called the news “devastating.”

“He’s so committed to his community, he’s so committed to the state, he’s so committed to his family,” he told TIME. “When bad things happen to good people it just breaks your heart a little bit.”

With reporting by Alex Rogers

[Richmond Times-Dispatch]