Mother granted guardianship Friday in Tyler Cairus case

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

18-year-old autistic man being evaluated in Fulton for six months

The mother of an 18-year-old autistic man facing charges of attempted statutory sodomy and attempted statutory rape was granted guardianship in a hearing on Friday morning.

Wendy Cairus, mother of 18-year-old Monett man Tyler Cairus, was granted guardianship by Associate Circuit Judge Robert Foulke, and with with blessing of Tyler's guardian ad-litem, Sarah Weber.

Wendy Cairus had originally intended to appoint Public Administrator Pam Modlin to the role of guardian, but because of her distrust of the state, she instead filed for guardianship herself less than a week before a guardianship hearing in early November.

Noting that her son is incapacitated to the point he would not be able to provide food, shelter and safety for himself, Cairus said her being granted guardianship is a step in the right direction.

"We are making progress, and I'm hopeful Tyler's team in Fulton will work with me," she said.

Tyler Cairus is being held by the Department of Mental Health in Fulton for a six-month evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial on the charges. Before being granted guardianship, Wendy Cairus did not have a legal right to be a part of the plan for Tyler at the Fulton

institution, and given the circumstances, she wants to be more involved in his case.

"Tyler is freaked out and doesn't want to be in there, and he's miserable, especially because he can't be on his gluten-free and lactose-free diet," she said.

Cairus said because of her son's health issues, the diet is important to his care because normal food can cause digestion issues, which she says affects everything from his mood to his actions.

"Now, I'm just waiting in patience because I don't know if I can get a lawyer to get him out of there, so I think I will wait the six months and see what happens," she said.

Tyler Cairus was transported from the Barry County jail, where he has been held since August, to Fulton on Nov. 12. Wendy Cairus got to spend time with him on Nov. 15 and Sunday. At the county jail, visitation hours are on Sundays, and she could only see him for 15 minutes at a time, but the visitation in Fulton is more lenient.

"I saw him on [Nov. 15] from 7-8 p.m., but it's not a full hour because they have to process you and bring him down, so you lose about 15-20 minutes," she said. "I also got to see him from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

"It was heartwarming for me, but with Tyler being autistic, I squeezed the fire out of him and didn't get much back. So, that's disheartening as a mother, but that's just who he is."

Cairus said although she feels he is in a better situation now in Fulton, she still has concerns.

"When I arrived, they said he lost his visitation, and I had to ask for it to be reinstated," she said. "There was a new nurse who was unfamiliar with him, and they have a rule that you can't bite your lip because it's considered harming yourself, and Tyler is an incessant fingernail biter.

"So, because he was doing that, they tied him down to his bed from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and took away his visitation."

Cairus said although the situation was trying, she has faith things will improve.

"The old nurse has talked to the new nurse and said there has to be some leeway with [Tyler]," Cairus said. "The whole situation stinks, but if anything good comes out of it, it will be worth it, but it's hard to say if that will happen at this time."

Wendy Cairus was represented by Cordelia Herrin in the case, who works from the office of Ellis, Cupps and Cole in Cassville.

Tyler Cairus was arrested on Aug. 20 after an incident at Monett Elementary School. He was allegedly standing outside the fence near the playground when he was approached by school staff, telling school personnel and police that he was at the location to take a child home -- by force, if necessary -- with whom to perform sexual acts.

Johnnie Cox, Barry County prosecuting attorney, said at the Department of Mental Health, Cairus will undergo six months of competency restoration to see if he is able to stand trial.

"They could make the determination that he's competent to proceed and file a motion to proceed, or they could recommend another six months of evaluation, or they could make the determination he is not competent and never will be," Cox said.

After his arrest, Cairus was sent to the in-patient psychiatric hospital at Cox North in Springfield, then transported to the county jail. Cairus was also sent to the Mental Health Department for a one-day evaluation, which found him incompetent.

Based on those results, he was ordered to go to Fulton for the competency restoration. The department then had to find a bed for Cairus, forcing him to still be held in the jail until Nov. 12.

"The Department of Mental Health is the only facility in the state available for competency restoration," Cox said. "We have to do this about one or two times per year."

Cox said he would not comment on what he believes the competency restoration will reveal.

"I do not want to speculate on what condition he is in," he said.

Cox said he has seen competency restoration find people fit to proceed in the past.

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