Schizophrenia is a terrible illness that should not be taken lightly. Bobby Rankin [pictured below] suffers from the disease and his mother’s four years spent trying to find him help for his diagnosed schizophrenia was futile.
Margaret Rohner worried about her troubled adult son not taking his psychiatric medications and had been trying to find him proper care in the years leading up to her horrifying murder at his hands.
The 45-year-old Rohner was viciously attacked Dec 26 with a fireplace poker and knife, her torso butchered and her intestines pulled out by son Robert O. Rankin, who was charged with murder after police said he confessed to the killing.
It was a tragic end for a woman who had spent years trying to find appropriate care for her son she called Bobby, a person she desperately wanted to help after doctors took him off medication prescribed to treat schizophrenia.
Patricia Unan, a close friend, said Rohner expressed frustration to her Dec. 19 about Bobby’s deteriorating mental condition since he stopped taking his medications. Bobby for months had been receiving residential respite services offered at River Valley Services in Middletown, a program run by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, according to Bobby’s father.
‘She told me she’d pleaded with the person she spoke with (at River Valley Services) to hospitalize him and force meds because she recognized when he was headed for a break down from previous experiences,’ Unan wrote in an email. ‘She said they told her they wanted to wait until after the holiday to address the situation.’
Mary Mason, a DMHAS spokeswoman, couldn’t confirm whether Bobby was a client, citing patient confidentiality laws. But she described the respite program as a voluntary alternative to a hospitalization, where temporary, supportive housing is provided. She said patients can check themselves out but need to notify staff when they’re leaving.
Bobby’s father picked him up Dec. 23, not wanting his son to spend the holiday away from family. The elder Rankin understood Rohner didn’t want Bobby to come to her house because he hadn’t been taking his medications, which often prompted outbursts directed at his mother.
To Rankin’s surprise, Rohner decided to let Bobby spend Christmas night at her home, where he typically stayed when he wasn’t in Middletown.
Bobby spent an uneventful night with Rohner and her boyfriend, Jack Adanti. But soon after Adanti left the house on Dec. 26 to run errands, Rohner was killed. The young man once known as a kind, high honors student with good manners and who had been accepted to Hofstra University told his father afterward that he was ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ State police say he immediately confessed to killing Rohner, telling a trooper: ‘I used the knife to kill my mother.’
Adanti is still stunned by what happened, saying Bobby was quiet when he left that morning. Bobby even shook his hand and thanked him for his Christmas presents. ‘If I had the slightest inclination that anything was wrong, I wouldn’t have left,’ he said. ‘That’s going to haunt me for a long time. Probably forever.’
Mental illness is nothing to be disregarded or messed with. If you think that someone close to you needs help and has gone off their medication, please take safety measures; never be alone with them and tell authorities.