Terry Joe Sedlacek, the 27-year-old Illinois man who reportedly shot and killed an Illinois pastor yesterday, was the subject of a major piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last August 6 which covered his startling bout with Lyme disease which had led to years of treatment and mental illness (along with lesions on his brain).
It has kicked off speculation about whether severe Lyme disease can lead to insane violence -- following the murderous attack on a woman by a trained chimp last month who also had been bitten and suffered from Lyme.
The remarkable Post-Dispatch story from last August also reveals that fundraisers had been held on Sedlacek's behalf. Sedlacek could barely speak due to the ravages of the disease, which no one had IDed for several years. No cause for his attack on the pastor has yet emerged.
The Belleville News-Democrat, a local paper in lllinois, today published a PDF of the fundraiser for Sedlacek last July and a list of "mental impacts" of severe Lyme disease today: "Extreme cases have been reported in the scientific literature of panic attacks, disorientation, hallucinations, extreme agitation, impulsive violence, manic, or obsessive behavior, paranoia, schizophrenic-like states, dementia and eating disorders. Several patients have committed suicide."
On the other hand: "Lyme disease doesn't cause people to shoot people," Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a Lyme disease expert at Yale University, told the Associated Press.
Sedlacek, an avid hunter, carried two pistols during the shooting and police found more at his home.
The gunman is now in the hospital after cutting himself with a knife in the incident. A parishioner he knifed is also still hospitalized.
Before being properly diagnosed, he nearly expired in 2003. A few years later he was put into a coma to treat him. His family publicized his plight last year attempting to draw attention to the need for proper diagnosis in areas where Lyme Disease is not common.
The article last August noted:
These days, Sedlacek, now 26 and living in Troy, Ill., with Abernathy, has difficulty speaking. He's got lesions on his brain. He's taking several drugs, including anti-seizure medication.
"He takes enough medicine at night to knock a cow out, but he only sleeps two or three hours a night," Abernathy said...
The funds raised are helping pay for treatment in Florida in a hyperbaric chamber that has helped others with his symptoms. He's now about halfway through the month of treatments, and his mother said in an e-mail that he is doing well and doctors have been able to reduce some of his medications.
Greg Mitchell's new book is "Why Obama Won." He is editor of Editor & Publisher.