Newly disclosed records show that Anthony Montwheeler, a Nampa man charged with murdering his ex-wife and an Oregon motorist in a January stabbing and crash, was suspected nearly 20 years ago of feigning mental illness to avoid prison, the Malheur Enterprise reports.
The records, released after Oregon’s governor intervened in support of the Vale weekly’s public record request, show doctors’ suspicions in the late 1990s but give no indication that officials acted until Montwheeler admitted his ruse two years ago.
Montwheeler was under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board from 1997 until last December. A few weeks later, he allegedly stabbed Annita Harmon of Weiser to death in his pickup truck, then sped away to elude police, veering into oncoming traffic near Ontario to hit a car head-on. The Jan. 9 crash killed driver David Bates of Vale and severely injured his wife, Jessica.
Montwheeler was committed to state care in 1997 after he reportedly kidnapped his then-wife and young child and was found guilty except for insanity. The newly released records include statements that December from state psychiatrist Charles Faulk, indicating a “reasonable medical probability that the patient may have simulated symptoms in order to avoid the prison system,” the Enterprise reports.
Faulk said Montwheeler had no symptoms of mental illness, making it “difficult, if impossible, to find just what and how to treat.” The Security Review Board had that report at a January 1998 hearing involving Montwheeler, its records show.
Seven years later, another psychiatrist wrote that Montwheeler’s “unusual course of illness does open the possibility of malingering.” That report contains no recommendation to act on that possibility, the Enterprise reports.
Other information revealed in the records received by the newspaper:
▪ At one time, Montwheeler was prescribed medication that, according to hospital records, “is not a recognized treatment for bipolar disorder.”
▪ A state psychologist in a violence risk assessment said Montwheeler received “excessive” services. “The main service need being met by the hospital is containment,” wrote Dr. Brian Hartman.
▪ A December 2015 hospital report said Montwheeler was operating as a loan shark: “He ran a store out of his room charging 100 percent interest for items,” the report said. “He also ran a business and charged for computer parts with significant markups.”
▪ He was given passes to leave hospital grounds, but refused group therapy. Instead, he joined “leisure groups” for bowling and fishing.
▪ A treatment care plan from August 2015 advised that Montwheeler needed to deal with frustrations so he didn’t “go off on people” in the community, noting that he showed increased aggression “when he experiences interpersonal conflict.”
▪ A hospital report from December 2015 said that Montwheeler had a record of “assaultive behavior” that included playing volleyball “with intent to hurt others.”
▪ Medical professionals warned that Montwheeler needed close supervision if released into the community.
Montwheeler, 49, is now held on $2 million bond in Malheur County on felony charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and assault. He is scheduled to enter a plea April 17.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447