Suspect in KC trail killings demonized by ‘hell’ of schizophrenia, his mother says

Update: The son of a man who was killed on a south Kansas City trail responded to Fredrick Scott’s mother’s comments on Thursday.

Fredrick Scott’s mother is sick for the families of the five men her son is suspected of killing.

She is hopeful, however, that now that he is in jail he will get help for a mental illness she thinks he has battled since his teens.

“I want him to have peace of mind,” she said. “I don’t want those demons in him anymore because a person who has never dealt with paranoid schizophrenia — you don’t know what it’s like. It’s hell. Their life is hell.”

Scott’s mother had seen the signs before.

Scott’s brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, his mother said in an interview with The Star. When Scott was 16 or 17, he started showing some of the same symptoms, his mother said.

He was never officially diagnosed. And he refused to get help, his mother said. His mother agreed to speak with The Star but did not want to be publicly identified.

“The first step to any type of recovery is admitting that you have a problem,” Scott’s mother said Wednesday. “Who wants people to know that you have a mental disability?”

Now at 22, he stands charged with the murders of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54, and is the suspect in three more high-profile killings of middle-aged white men along Kansas City’s south trail system: David Lenox, 67; Timothy S. Rice, 57, of Excelsior Springs; and Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of Coach’s Bar & Grill at 103rd Street and Wornall Road.

Her son had four municipal citations since 2013, but nothing close to murder. At Center Alternative School in 2014, he said he wanted “to shoot the school up, Columbine-style.” He also said he wanted to kill himself and “kill all white people,” according to the municipal court report.

Despite Scott’s struggles and run-ins with the law, Scott graduated from Center Alternative School in 2015, his mother said. He was enrolled as a senior for more than two years before graduating at age 20.

“His teachers and his principal were very supportive of him,” she said. “They really worked with him over there.”

On April 7, 2013, his mother called police on her son during an argument. She was trying to get him to go to a mental hospital but he refused. He was an adult by then; she could not force him.

She told him to get help or get out of her home, she said. He shoved her several times and she called police.

“I am a single mother trying to do the tough love thing to get my son to do the right thing, but he would not get help,” the mother said. “So of course, he is not going to be too happy with me. He’s gonna be upset and angry because I told him a couple of times you cannot live here unless you get yourself together.”

The mother said she is sorry for the pain caused to the families affected by the shootings.

“I’m hurting for the victims of the families that they said he did this to, and I’m hurting for my son,” she said. “I’m hurting for my son because he was in this much pain and I didn’t know.”

Media attention to the case has been hard on her and her four other children the last few days, she said. Scott has two sisters in college and another on the way, his mother said.

“This is the worst,” she said. “We’re hurting just as much as those victims’ families if not more.

“If my son did this, we didn’t do this. We just want to be left alone.”

Brian Darby, whose father was killed in May and his body found on a walking trail between Wornall and Holmes roads in south Kansas City, said he felt disrespected by Scott’s mother’s comments. He questioned her motives in talking about her son’s mental state and whether she could know if he has schizophrenia.

“She says she’s hurting just as much. My father will never get his morning walk again. He’ll never see the sun again. He won’t get his three meals a day, which her son still has,” Darby said.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter

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