Horrific murder case brings extra stress for first responders, law enforcement

Severed head murder suspect in court

OREGON CITY, Ore. – The suspect in a horrific decapitation murder case went before a judge for the first time on Tuesday, as people try to make sense of senseless acts of violence.

The stress these types of cases can create is real, and usually most severe for those closest to the situation.  Often that means first responders who are there to deal with it.

In the case out of Clackamas County, it doesn’t get much more brutally graphic than a grown son, accused of killing his mother on Mother’s Day, and taking her severed head to grocery store before stabbing a clerk.

Read more: Dad tries to fathom why son allegedly decapitated his mother

“I think our eyes can see more than our souls are capable of bearing because we see horrific stuff day-in and day-out and we carry it with us all the time and what we call it is cumulative stress, not post-traumatic stress disorder necessarily, it is more like one more thing piling on,” said Lt. Anthony Kollias of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.    

Law enforcement and other first responders have resources to help, from peer support, to chaplains, therapists and organizations geared to helping manage the stress.

But the same stress can hit all of us to varying degrees, even if we’re only as close as hearing or reading about horrific acts of violence in the news.

Background: Man carrying mother's severed head stabs store worker, deputies say

For anyone experiencing stress or trauma, opening up about it is often the best first step.

“It helps to be able to reach out to those pastors and people in that faith community to be able to find help, if it’s also with a therapist it could even be with your community around you, with your friends and neighbors to be able to say ‘why,’” said Mike Vermace, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Chaplain.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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