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No Insurance, Meds Denied, Tate Mayhem and Perryman Murder – Op Ed

April 2, 2009

With all the news about health scams, this sharp issue cuts both ways into a tender target.  Todays insurance industry causes health care to become an assembly line. Actual patient issues are compartmentalized and tucked away into cost projections.  Of course there are uninsured people who use emergency rooms as their primary care provider.  Yes, these people have no choices, so they use a system that has little to offer anywhere else.  Substance abusers are most targeted for taking unfair advantage of emergency treatment.  But, with necessary health resources becoming so exclusive to guaranteed payment, the system is more complex for the general public. 87971_f260Too many uninsured people must resort to emergency rooms.

For outpatients with mental health issues, there are no options available beyond a fixed time frame for treatment … their families live with the burden.  These families cannot afford their own health care, let alone being responsible for a high maintenance mental case.  They are not doctors. They do not have the facilities to protect you, me or themselves.  So, why do we send people that require treatment home?  MONEY!

In Austin, Texas, a mental health patient was denied medication because he had no insurance, he went on a violent spree that ended in murder.


Murder suspect had been out of prison three months before killing local actor, police say

After beating his mother’s roommate with a garden tool at their South Austin home Wednesday, Seth Tatum walked about three miles to the home of an Austin actor whom he had never met and killed him, according to an arrest affidavit.

Suspect in South Austin murder now in custody

The murder suspect reportedly drove right up on to the sidewalk in front of the Travis County jail, in a car that’s registered to the same address where the murder took place. Based on information Tatum gave them – police swarmed the South Austin neighborhood.

KEYE: Austin family members react to murder arrest

The family says they tried to get Tatum into Seton Shoal Creek Hospital so he could get medical attention and medication.   But Tatum’s mother says he was turned away because he doesn’t have insurance.

Words of warning from folks who know Seth Tatum. They say he is a muscular man, and when off his meds he can be a dangerous dude.   Family members say Wednesday, he beat one of them so badly he thought he was going to die.  “Blood was all in my eyes,” said a family member who doesn’t want to be identified.  Blinded by blood, the man says Seth Tatum’s trail of trouble started with him.  “I was fighting him off to keep… he was saying he was trying to kill me, ” said the family member

Actor Lou Perryman

The relative tells us Tatum gave him a brutal beating.  “Staples in my head, I got contusions and part of my thumb is gone now,” said the family member.  Thursday morning, police say Tatum drove a car to the Travis County Jail to turn himself in.  Minutes earlier police say he killed a man at a home on Darvone Circle.

KVUE: South Austin homicide victim was actor

KXAN:  Lou Perryman, 67, stabbed to death
Famous Texas actor attacked randomly, police say


On the set of The Whole Shootin' Match (l-r): art director Jim Rexrode, actor Sonny Davis and his dog, soundman Wayne Bell, an unidentified extra, director Eagle Pennell, assistant director Doug Holloway, and actor Lou Perryman

Police say Tatum stole the actor’s car and drove off. It wasn’t until the next day, Thursday, that Tatum turned himself in at the courthouse, telling authorities that the car he was driving was stolen and that he may have killed the car’s owner.

“[Tatum] said, ‘That’s a stolen car,’ and I’m pretty sure that I killed the owner of that car,” said Austin Police Detective Jose Chacon.

Tatum’s sister says the family was trying to get him help for his bipolar condition at the time of the crimes.

Perryman’s Legacy

Among Perryman’s most famous films were “The Whole Shooting Match,” “Poltergeist” and “The Blues Brothers.”  Perryman’s longtime friend, Wayne Bell, described the death as “…a heartbreaking loss.”  “You can see it in the ‘Whole Shooting Match’ and a few other films that he did something wonderful,” said Bell. “We’ll always be the better for it.”  “Lou Perryman was a special Austin character, an original Austin character,” said Bell.

Actor Lou Perryman Killed in S Austin

myFOXaustin (AUSTIN) – A member of Austin’s film community is found murdered in his home. The body of Louis Perryman was discovered Thursday. Police say the man, accused of the murder, drove to the Travis County Courthouse, surrendered and confessed. Police were already looking for the man, not for the murder, but because of an earlier incident on Wednesday at his mother’s house.

With bandages on his hands, and a fractured skull, Carl Drake is trying to make sense of the past 48 hours. Wednesday afternoon, while in his Glen Meadow Dr house Drake says he was attacked. According to a police warrant, the man responsible for the attack used hedge clippers, and identified as Seth Tatum. Investigators say Tatum is Drakes step-son. Seth Tatum recently moved into the Glen Meadow Dr home after serving time in state prison for aggravated robbery. Joan Tatum told investigators her son is bi-polar, off his meds and drinking. That information had officers launching an immediate search.

Seth Tatum

Seth Tatum

All over this country, news focuses on suicides and crimes related to the economy.  Why is there so little emphasis on what happens when medications are denied, when people fall out of their support system?  It is so easy for short sighted people to complain about a “nanny society” that coddles those ‘lazy bums’.  Well, some of those ‘lazy bums’ are recently released from prisons and mental facilities, because their ‘nanny system’ cannot afford them.  So, now its your problem and my responsibility to absorb the consequences.  Get a gun, get a dog, get heavier locks and gates if you want to isolate yourself from unattended mental time bombs.  Welcome to a ‘brave new world’ that prefers to deny PTSD, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Paranoia and other combinations of social disorders.  Denial, avoidance and delusion are social disorders, too.  The general public has these disorders when it prefers to spend money on more comfortable services.  The list of mental and personality disorders is huge and most can be controlled with medication that corrects chemical imbalances effecting the brain.

When a person has been stabilized with medication for a long time, then the treatment stops, there is a period of withdrawal that can amplify the original condition and cause violence.  Where is the common sense here?  Each person on this planet has a seed of mental illness somewhere in their genetics.  Something can trigger that seed to grow into a full blown mental issue.  The poor state of limited and abbreviated mental health treatment is a condition that is as dangerous to AFP6E1civilization as global warming.

UPDATE:  Even though Tatum is not specifically described as a “mental health” patient, his family claims he was bi-polar and required medication for that condition.  Bi-Polar is on the list of serious mental conditions that require medical supervision for the sake of the patient and anyone coming in contact.  A health care system at the mercy of insurance driven profit motive, must no longer be endorsed by the politicians we elect to be our voice in state and federal legislatures.

MERCK List of Mental Disorders

  1. April 4, 2009 8:05 am

    Mr Bell, I appreciate your help. My original intent was meant to be an impersonal illustration of health care disparity caused by insurance driven profit structures. As more details emerged, I realize that the loss of a genuine Texas Character is equally important. Thank you for reminding me there are two human lives involved. The life lost was an asset to all of us, and the criminal is a burden to all of us. The sadness is that this crime was so preventable.
    Because these two people did not know each other does not really make this a random crime. The clash between the healthy and unhealthy is becoming more common. I invite your input on any details about Mr. Perryman you can share.

  2. Wayne Bell permalink
    April 4, 2009 6:58 am

    Please add these two links to this op-ed if possible:

    They add more info about the perpetrator, who had been an inmate in the Texas prison system, not a mental health patient, per se, and about the victim, who was a beloved character actor.

    Thank You.


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