Court documents suggest mental health issues with Jon Routh

Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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Stephanie Appleby spotted some red flags as soon as she read the police report on Jon Tyler Routh today.

"It sounded like to me he was acting out of desperation and it was a cry for help," said Appleby.

An outburst that put Springfield Police Officer Mark Priebe in the hospital, crushed by Routh's SUV against a concrete barrier at police headquarters Tuesday morning.

Routh told police he was homeless and the FBI and police were using people to "mentally harass him."

"He was living in his car so we know that he was in a trauma-induced situation, was this the answer? Absolutely not," said Appleby.

Appleby is the executive director for NAMI in Springfield, a mental health support organization. She never met Routh and therefore can't diagnose him, but wasn't surprised to hear he recently bounced around the country.

"I believe statistically 6% of Americans live with a mental illness, and in the homeless community it's about 24 to 26%," said Appleby.

Appleby works with many homeless people who suffer from various disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.

Her research revealed those issues often cause homelessness.

"They didn't get treatment, there were barriers that they couldn't see a physician, they didn't have the money to get the medication, so then they lost their job, they lost their home, and caused them to be homeless," said Appleby.

Routh may have been unemployed. Court documents revealed a text he sent two hours before hitting Officer Priebe said "Apparently I can't get a job unless I lose Lilith. I'm going to run a cop over I think."

Applebee knows mental illness rarely leads to something this extreme, but sometimes the simple act of reaching out can prevent tragedy in the first place.

"You may see a stranger on the side of the road, giving them five dollars yes that's a quick fix and a bandaid, but really find out, hey what's going on with you? How can I help you?" said Appleby.

Appleby says she believes Routh has some sort of mental illness, but that does not excuse what he did.