Joan Becker Notes

  • Has been speaking publicly about Mark and the events of his case for over 6 years.
  • Gives public talks as a form of prevention to spread awareness of mental health and to hopefully get people to let go of the stigma against mental illness and get help if they need it.
  • Before Mark was sent to prison, it was unsafe for her to be at home alone with him.
  • Coach Thomas was one of only a handful of people who knew about Mark’s condition and the struggle his family was going through.
  • Mark Becker’s parents learned through a phone call from a neighbor that Mark was involved in Ed Thomas’ killing
  • Mark Becker believed that God was telling him to kill Ed Thomas, as well as both of his parents because they were poisoning the minds of children.
  • Joan believes that he was found guilty because Iowa doesn’t have a “guilty, but insane” option for a verdict, which would have sent him directly to a mental institution instead of prison and would likely not have resulted in a life sentence.
  • Mark is currently in the general population and is “doing well” according to his mother.
  • He is currently on “one medication. He started out with four.”
  • “He finally admitted he had an illness in his brain” after he read a book by a psychologist with schizophrenia while in prison
  • “He’s making the most out of his life”
    • has a full time job at the prison
    • mentors other inmates by helping them get used to the system and encourages inmates close to release not to stop taking medication or stop going to counciling.
  • Mark Becker now says he now “Loves the Thomas family”
  • “It was so incredibly real that day”
  • “There was only one time we ever heard Ed Thomas’s name mentioned, and it was during the first full blown psychotic episode”
    • Mark mentioned several names and said he was going to “talk some sense into them”
    • Believed Ed and others were all “out to get” him and were sending “goons” to hurt him.
  • “It’s easy to look back now and say when we noticed it”
    • “we were so immersed in the day to day happenings in our life that we couldn’t step back and notice the bigger picture”
  • “ever since I remember existing, the voices have already been there, and they scared me” – Mark Becker
  • “That’s what really hard, is what could I have done, to draw that out?”
  • Mark enrolled and dropped out of college three different times
    • moved 12 times and had 11 different jobs in the next few years
  • Tried several times to get help for Mark. He had to mental health committals, but was never taken to a psychiatrist.
  • “It shouldn’t have taken prison, but that’s what it took for our son to get the help he needs. And it’s wrong”
  • “We have used our jails to stabilize our mentally ill for way too long”
  • law enforcement was adamant that Mark’s parents not blame themselves.
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