SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Two weeks ago, the kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in Springfield prompted an amber alert, a statewide search, and a community effort to bring the child home safely.
In a matter of hours, both the child and the kidnapping suspect were tracked down, but in the days following Miguel Rodriguez being charged with kidnapping, his family raised concerns about his mental stability.
In fact, they told Western Mass News the 24-year-old Rodriguez had been struggling with mental illness for years and that efforts to medicate him were unsuccessful.
"Multiple times, cops have come here, because of him," Miguel Rodriguez's sister tells us.
In an interview with Western Mass News weeks ago, the sister of Miguel Rodriguez says it wasn't unusual for her family to call the cops on her brother.
Though she didn't want to show her face on camera, his sister told us that Miguel suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia, which resulted in hospitalizations and restraining orders against him from his own family members.
"Last time with the hospital, before he got let go and released, and I said, 'Please don’t release him. He is not mentally stable'," explained Rodriguez's sister.
But she says her brother, Miguel, was let out of the hospital and on January 15, the day an 11-year-old Springfield girl was kidnapped while walking home, Miguel's sister recognized the car in the amber alert and had to call the cops on her brother once again.
"He was not medicating himself. We tried. I want people to understand and know that my mom has tried various times to get him Roger's Orders to control him," stated Rodriguez's sister.
Now facing kidnapping, assault, and rape charges, Miguel Rodriguez is being evaluated in a hospital, but his family said their attempts to force Miguel to take anti-psychotic medication through the courts were unsuccessful.
"In order to have a Rogers guardianship, you need a guardianship, so the court has to make a base determination that the individual is incompetent to manage their affairs," Michelle Feinstein, an estate attorney for Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, stated.
Michele Feinstein is an estate attorney, who handles Rogers guardianship in the local courts.
She says it's an uphill battle for families to get their loved ones declared mentally incapacitated in the courts.
"We place a great premium in our society on individual independence and liberty, so a guardianship is effectively eroding someone’s liberty and it’s not something that the court takes lightly," said Feinstein.
"He was an adult, had an episode, was diagnosed as schizo-affective bipolar, psychotic," local resident Kristina says.
No one knows the difficulty of getting guardianship over a loved one like Kristina.
"He doesn’t want help," continued Kristina.
According to Kristina, her brother has refused to take anti-psychotic medication for more than fifteen years.
"He's smart, so he knows his rights. He knows that he doesn’t have to be treated if he doesn’t want to, He wouldn’t say, you know, 'I’m going to hurt myself or hurt anyone', but he would break into homes. [It’s been twenty years and you still haven’t been able to get any kind of Rogers guardianship?] You need a psychologist or a psychiatrist orders or input in order to get Rogers guardianship and we can never get that," stated Kristina.
Because her brother refuses to see family members when admitted to hospitals, Kristina says it's become a repeating cycle of dangerous behavior and hospitalization.
"They just medicate him and let him go and that’s happened probably about fifteen times," says Kristina.
Without the guardianship, Kristina says she was forced to watch her brother's condition deteriorate.
"Talking about women, we clearly saw that he might, he could do something. [What are your concerns for him?] My biggest concern is his safety. I’m afraid he’s just going to sleep outside and freeze to death one night. I’m afraid he’s going to starve to death, because he doesn’t feed himself," said Kristina.
And those concerns only multiply when she says the only other alternative for care is behind bars.
"I was really hoping he would go to jail just to get the help he needs. I’m worried for others. I’ll admit I’m afraid he’ll just, you know, break into another home. I reached out to you with the recent case against Miguel Rodriguez, because I thought there wasn’t really help until something bad happens and that’s not fair. It’s not fair to society. Would he do something like that? Maybe," added Kristina.