Yvonne remembers first meeting Fred.
It was about 1999, during one of the first trips to Oklahoma that Yvonne Hardeman would take with her then-boyfriend Willie Hardeman.
Fred — Willie's brother — would hug Yvonne, not out of the character for the man she described as kind, funny and pleasant.
“I felt very, very loved by him,” she said. “ ... When I would go visit, I looked forward to going to see Fred. He was a brother-in-law I really enjoyed having around.”
However, during the past two years, the couple took trips to Oklahoma, and realized that Fred was gone.
It would take a phone call in June 2013 for Yvonne to understand how gone Fred was.
During their marriage, Yvonne and Willie Hardeman took two trips from California to Oklahoma each year to stay with Willie's mother, Ocie “Jean” Hardeman.
Willie was the oldest of Jean's children, followed by Fred and then Missy.
Jean Hardeman loved the holidays. She would cook a feast of a dinner for her children and grandchildren. She most enjoyed Christmas, buying presents for her grandchildren.
During most of the trips that the couple took, they stayed with Jean. For the most part, Fred lived with Jean.
While Jean was at work, Yvonne, Willie and Fred Hardeman would go out to lunch or hang out around the house. One trip, they went horseback riding together.
Fred Hardeman had been in and out of jail and had been in prison about four times. Yvonne said she noticed a change in Fred after one of the last times he returned from prison. Even though Fred had a criminal history, Yvonne said she never expected violence from him.
And during one of the last times Yvonne would see Fred, he would tell her that he thought he had a demon inside of him.
“There's something inside of me that's controlling me,” he told them. “It's controlling my voice.”
He asked Yvonne and Willie to pray for him, and the three of them prayed together. Afterward, Fred smiled and said he felt strong.
Six months ago, she received a phone call about Fred. She still has trouble believing what she heard — that Fred allegedly had stabbed his mother.
Jean Hardeman died June 17 from “what appeared to be stab wounds,” according to court records.
Yvonne said Jean Hardeman was a beautiful woman, and she misses her. This past Thanksgiving was especially hard because it made her think back to the family dinners they used to enjoy. She's thankful for those moments.
“My heart goes out to Fred,” she said. “(His) mom isn't suffering any more, but he is. Fred has to live with this the rest of his life. The fact that he tried to seek help and he tried to do the right thing — he was failed, and it really bothers me.”
While Yvonne couldn't see Fred's dark side, Jean Hardeman's close friend Kathleen Worley, of Oklahoma City, said she always worried that he would hurt his mother.
The two women had been friends for almost 20 years, and Worley and her husband had helped Jean find treatment for Fred multiple times.
Jean Hardeman's health suffered because she stressed so much about Fred's mental health and how she could help him, Worley said.
Jean always wanted to make sure Fred was safe. She had slept in her car before because she felt like it was the best way to ensure Fred had a safe place to sleep, and so did she.
Worley had told her, “If you ever feel like you're in trouble or harm's way, run. You can come here day or night. It doesn't matter. You don't have to call.”
One night after Fred Hardeman had been released from jail, Worley got a phone call from Jean.
“She called me, and she said, ‘He's on the patio ... looking in, wanting in,' and I said, ‘Don't let him in, Jean.' And she said, ‘He's starving. He's really in trouble,'”Kathleen Worley said. “I knew what she was going to do. She just could not let him be there. She brought him back in and, within a very short time, she was dead.”
‘I did a bad thing'
Missy Hardeman awoke to her phone ringing.
It was her brother Fred.
For the past two years, Missy and her brother had not spoken often.
Missy had cut ties from Fred after he stabbed her son in the face while they were playing video games, she said. She didn't want to take a risk of something happening again.
Over the phone, Fred told her, “I did a bad thing. I stabbed Momma,” court records show.
Missy called the police. When police arrived, they found Fred Hardeman, who told them “he had killed his mother and she was inside apartment two,” according to court records. Officers found Jean dead, inside the apartment she and her son shared.
Fred was arrested June 17 on a first-degree murder charge and has been in the Oklahoma County jail since his arrest. He awaits a preliminary hearing. In December, court records show that officials ordered a competency evaluation.
After Jean's death, her family found a file with some of Fred's medical records. A look at them gives a brief idea about the diagnosis and treatment that Fred received.
Among the records are treatment and evaluation papers from the time that Fred spent at state-operated and private mental health hospitals. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health defines the disorders: “Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling mental disorder characterized by deficits in thought processes, perceptions and emotional responsiveness.” People with anti-social personality disorder “may disregard social norms and laws, repeatedly lie, place others at risk for their own benefit and demonstrate a profound lack of remorse.”
In 2010, Fred spent several days in facilities, including Griffin Memorial Hospital, a mental health and substance abuse hospital in Norman; the Oklahoma County Crisis Intervention Center; the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health; and St. Anthony Hospital's mental health inpatient treatment unit.
The records also show, in 2010, Fred was prescribed a variety of antipsychotic drugs along with antidepressants and medications that were used to help control the side effects of the drugs he was taking.
In one crisis center report, a doctor noted Fred had occasional auditory hallucinations, which could include hearing voices that aren't there.
Fred wrote in his evaluation of his time at Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health that “things were good here.” The report noted that Fred's stressors were “finances, housing, relationship with mother and mental illness.”
It was also noted that he was discharged because he “demonstrates decreased risk of harm to self and others evidenced by decrease in psychosis, stabilization of mood and increased judgment and insight.”
Treatment but no cure
There is no cure for schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Two main types of treatment can help control symptoms — medication and psychosocial treatments, including self-help groups and talking with a therapist.
One of the challenges that the mental health system faces is treating someone who still possesses the constitutional right to refuse treatment, said Herman Jones, a neuropsychologist at OU College of Medicine.
For the most part, adults have the right to refuse treatment or refuse to take medication prescribed to them.
But the mental health system has got to be more than “you show up and take your meds,” Jones said.
“There's got to be someone there that, if at all possible, says, in this case, ‘Look, Fred, these are the complications if you don't do this, and it's in your best interest and everyone's best interest for you to do this, even if makes you sluggish or gives you constipation or made you gain 30 pounds.' The mental health system is more than just meds.”
Should Fred Hardeman have been placed in an institution years ago? Maybe, Jones said. But that comes with trade-offs, he said.
“I think it's important to recognize that we probably would have kept four or five people that could make it in the community and deprived them of their freedom, and I think that's the trade out we have with this, and by trying to deinstitutionalize, we grant greater freedom to people who can handle it, but in this particular case, we grant greater freedom to society to those who can't,” Jones said.
How to help or get help
If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health disorder, you can contact the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at (800) 522-9054. You can also contact the Oklahoma chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health at (800) 583-1264 or (405) 230-1900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.