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The son who vanished ... Add to ...

Jay As he became more and more ill, his behaviour became quite aggressive. Not so much in a physical way, but verbally aggressive. ... He would never actually strike anybody.

There was a period of time when I would hide the big knives in the house and put something in front of our bedroom door. Because he was just acting so erratically. ... He'd decided to "purify" himself - I thought he might try and purify us as well.

Susan I never particularly felt threatened although occasionally he was scary just because of how delusional he was. Jay was in a different position than me because Jesse was overtly angry at him. And we also talked about putting a lock on our bedroom door because Jesse would occasionally get up wandering in the night.

Jay Now that didn't last very long. That was really at the end just before he was committed.

Jesse has never heard this part of the story before.

Jesse I didn't know you were that worried. And why specifically knives anyway?

Jay Well, because what other weapons are there around here? I wasn't worried about you hitting me with a pillow.

Jesse You were worried I was going to stab you guys or something?

Jay Well, we didn't know. And, at times, you were so angry. Who knew if that anger was going to manifest itself and in the middle of the night, you'd wake up suddenly and say, "These people sleeping in the next room don't go to church. I am going to go and kill them." Who knew?

Jesse I wish I knew: I could have reassured you that I wasn't thinking that.

Jay Are you kidding? If we had told you we were worried about that, we might have put the idea in your head. ... I want to say something to Jesse: The fact that we were hiding the knives, don't take it personally. We were hiding them because at the time you were ill and irrational.

Jesse All is forgiven, I hope, both ways.

Jay Of course.

That spring, Susan took a leave of absence from work because someone needed to be home with Jesse. She later quit altogether.

Both parents stopped travelling, because they were afraid to leave him. At his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, Jesse sat on the couch in silence glaring at everyone. "I thought I was the life of the party," he says now.

Jay and Susan began to build their case to have him committed to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. Legally, the bar was high: They had to prove that Jesse was a danger to himself or others.

In the end, instead of making them go to a justice of the peace with their affidavit, Jay's family doctor agreed to make a house call to complete the paperwork.

They called the police at supper time on Sept. 21, 1999, when they could be sure Jesse would be at home. The car arrived about an hour later.

Jay It didn't transpire the way I expected it to. Because he's quite a big and athletic guy, and he had bouts of being quite aggressive and angry, I expected there'd be a real struggle. In fact, I warned the police up front. I think they had one of the cops go and stand at the rear of the house because we were afraid he might bolt. And if we lost him then, we were afraid we'd never see him again. But as it happened, he was totally passive.

Susan I don't think Jesse really quite realized what was going on.

Jesse It's very hazy. I remember talking from the back of the cruiser as we were driving, and I was making friendly chit-chat. I didn't ask them where they were taking me or for what reason. I guess I was really out of it. I didn't put two and two together.

Susan At that point, he had no idea it was us, that we had called the cops.

Jay They handcuffed him. That was probably the worst part of the whole thing - to see your son handcuffed and taken away in a cop car.

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