The family of a Mansfield man who murdered his former girlfriend, abducted her baby and finally committed suicide blames a lack of mental health treatment for events that eventually led to one of the most tragic amber alerts in recent memory.
Dakota Steagall, 20, left the infant with his grandmother before committing suicide hours after killing 22-year-old Kaitlyn Carroll Peak last March. Peak had moved out more than a year before and had broken off the relationship.
Both Steagall’s mother and grandmother are now speaking out—not to make excuses—but in their words, “in hope that there is somebody out there we can help.”
“We all lost a couple of young, bright, people who had a very good, long future ahead of them” said Dakota’s mother Cheryl Steagall.
“I believe it was due to his anger and depression,” she said, referencing the tragedy.
Steagall was apprehended by police on a series of occasions that included stabbing himself with a knife, threatening to kill both his former girlfriend and her grandmother, and barricading himself inside his apartment for hours in police standoff.
But family members said the young man never received the mental health treatment he needed.
“They kept him on the third floor (psychiatric floor) for three days and that was that,” said his mother. “Out the door you go.”
And because Steagall was over 18, his family says, privacy laws prevented his treatment, diagnosis and condition from being shared.
His mother says it left her feeling “out of the picture."
As a result of the tragedy, the family is reaching out to others who are experiencing mental health issues and urging them to seek help before other lives are lost.
“I feel horrible for Kaitlyn, her daughter and her whole family” said Steagall’s mother.