December 26th, 2013.
23 year old Robert “Bobby” Rankin was a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from depression, psychosis, and suicidal tendencies since his last year of high school. Though he’d been in and out of emergency rooms, institutionalized time and time again, his mental state only deteriorated over the years. By the end of 2013, Bobby was in worse health than ever before; he was experiencing homicidal hallucinations and religious delusions. The young man believed his mother, 45 year old Margaret Rohner, to be an imposter who carried a baby which he alone must save.
Margaret was, without a doubt, always a devoted mother to her only son. Her mission in life had been to save Bobby from himself; he was her first priority and she’d been very worried about him, more so now than ever. Right before Christmas Margaret realized Bobby had not been taking his meds, he was worse off than ever before. She took her son to a state-run facility called River Valley Services for some inpatient treatment, but Bobby’s father was called to pick him up. The facility stated that they didn’t want to address his issues before the holidays, they’d take Bobby in after Christmas. This would prove to be a fatal mistake.
At home, Bobby’s delusions grew worse by the minute. He now believed himself to be Jesus and his mother to be an imposter who stood between him and world peace. Plus, in his mind, it was time for that imagined baby in Margaret’s womb to meet the world.
The day after Christmas, Bobby attacked Margaret while she was in the living room. He beat and stabbed her with a fire poker, strangled and tried to snap Margaret’s neck, then took a hunting knife and cut open her stomach to retrieve the baby he had believed to be there. Bobby would later say that his mother put up one heck of a fight, so much so that he had to take his own clothes off to “gain more power”. He ripped out Margaret’s intestines like “octopus tentacles”, searching for that baby he could never find, and at some point he stripped his mother of her clothing as well.
After he was done, Bobby took a shower, walked the dog, then called his father who lived down the street to inform him of what had transpired. Father raced to the home his ex shared with their son, but Bobby would not allow him entry. He frantically called police and told them he believed his son had committed murder; Bobby did not put up a fight against police, during the arrest he claimed that he believed Margaret to be an alien who had stolen all of his power away.
At court Bobby was very remorseful, stating that he missed his mother very much. So much, in fact, that he’d tried to commit suicide so he could be reunited with her. He showed up to one hearing in a wheel chair; he had a cast on his right arm and wore a metal halo on his head. Bobby had tried to jump to his death and damaged 3 cervical discs; this shouldn’t have happened at all considering he had been on suicide watch at the time.
Bobby ultimately received 60 years for the death of his mother, this time will be served at a maximum security psychiatric unit in the Whiting Forensic Institute. It’s a good thing that he is finally receiving the treatment he needed so desperately, surely his mother would be happy with this, but why did someone have to die for decent treatment to be given? It’s really too bad that the hospital refused to take him before Christmas; psych professionals know that mental illnesses doesn’t take a break for holidays – matter of fact it is proven that the holidays often make it worse. Every single bit of this tragedy could have easily been prevented.