Woman blames Prozac for her son’s rampage — (Michigan Live)

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By Pat Rombyer Staff Writer

April 5, 2001

Betty Rees of Jackson said she “went crazy” at news that her son killed three of his children and then himself. Betty Rees of Jackson spoke to her 42-year-old son on the telephone shortly before he ended a standoff with Texas authoritiesby killing three of his children and himself.  It was midnight Sunday and he called to tell her the police were on their way and that there was no way he was going to answer the door. “He said: Mom, ‘I’m not going back to jail,”‘ Rees recalled. Timothy Rumsey was holed up in his Katy, Texas, home with his son, Dylan, 9, his daughters, Kirstie, 7, and Haylee, 2, and his stepdaughter, Brittany Whalen, 11.

His wife, Joy, had dashed to a neighbor’s to call police after arguing for hours with her husband.  True to his word, Rumsey did not give up.  Police entered the house at 9:30 a.m.  Monday and found his body in the bedroom closet, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The bodies of Brittany, Kirstie and Dylan were also in the closet.  Two-year-old Haylee was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to her arm.

Rees is convinced her son’s medication, Prozac, caused her son to go berserk. “He was on medication for panic attacks up here and when he went to the doctor there, they said he was clinically depressed and put him on Prozac,” she said. Rees didn’t learn the tragic news until 5 p.m. Monday when her other son, who heard it from a friend, called her at work.  “I went crazy,” she said, angry that police did not contact her before the news reached the media. She’s also angry that all the media accounts made her son look like the bad one and his wife, Joy, look good. “She always wanted people to feel sorry for her,” said Rees, who admits that she was not fond of her daughter-in-law. “He loved his kids.  He never even spanked them. “Every time there was a squabble, she’d call the police.

I was so happy when they got divorced and then he called and told me they got remarried.” They divorced in January 1998, but remarried a short time later after moving to the Grand Rapids area. Rees said her son moved to Texas in May. Joy and the kids moved weeks later. Rees thought the fresh start would be good for the family. “As far as I knew, everything was OK,” she said. Her son called her twice Sunday night. At about 10 p.m., he called to visit and talk about a debt he owed her, saying a check was on its way. “He was happy go lucky. He said, ‘What’s up,’ like he always did,” Rees said. “Then at midnight, he had all this trouble and now he’s dead.” The Katy, Texas, police called her Monday morning, a few hours before the bodies were discovered, and asked her to call her son. “They wanted me to talk him into going to the door.  They said he was making it bad for himself,” she said. “I told them he’s not going to do that. He ain’t going to listen to me.” Her calls went unanswered.

While little love was lost between Rees and her daughter-in-law, Joy Rumsey’s family had similar feelings about their Timothy.  They were at a loss to explain why Joy stayed in what they considered an abusive relationship. Jackson-area police had arrested Rumsey numerous times on alcohol and drug charges, felonious stalking complaints, failing to pay child support for his children from a previous marriage and violating numerous personal protection orders obtained by Joy. “Everytime she’d leave, he’d act so nice, sending her flowers, telling her how much he loved her, and they’d go to counseling, then it’d be the same thing,” said Joy’s sister, Pam Lentz of Parma. Plus, Joy was fearful for the children’s safety, Lentz said. “She knew if she was divorced, he’d get visitation and she would not be able to protect them,” Lentz said.

Joy grew up the youngest of seven girls and a younger brother in the Birdland neighborhood off Lansing Avenue in the Northwest school district. “We are all real close,” Lentz said. “We all did the best we could to help her when she needed it.” But, Lentz said, “Texas was too far away.” Two of her sisters flew to Texas to be with Joy, who is not granting interviews at this time, a hospital spokesman said. No funeral arrangements have been made for the children. A fund has been set up at the Katy Bank in Katy, Texas.

Cards, gifts and donations may be sent to “The Rumsey Children’s Benefit Fund at the Katy Bank, 701 Pin Oak Rd., Katy, TX, 77493. Tim Rumsey’s mother said her son would be cremated in Texas and a memorial service will be held in the near future. Besides his mother, Tim is survived by his father, Clifford; his brothers, Steven and Kevin; his half-brother, Duane Varino; and his grandmother, Anita Casebeer. Reach reporter Pat Rombyer at prombyer@citpat.com or 768-4924. —