Man leaves mental ward, commits murder

Man leaves mental ward, commits murder


When Kurt Ray Kasper Jr. walked into the Fannin Pavilion behavioral hospital in Beaumont after telling police he was having thoughts of the mass murder of children, police couldn’t have known he would stab a close family friend to death some two weeks later, just one day after his release from the mental hospital. 

Kurt Ray Kasper Jr., 29, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury March 1, 2012, and pleaded guilty Monday, Sept. 2, to murdering Timothy James Melancon. With the guilty plea, Kasper’s sentence would be capped at no more than 20 years. 

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, Nederland police were called to 324 N. 15th St. in reference to a stabbing Feb. 15, 2012. When they arrived, they found Melancon face down in the street with a single stab wound to the chest. 

When they entered the home, police found Kasper inside along with the weapon he had used to stab Melancon. According to the probable cause affidavit, Kasper told police he stabbed Melancon because he “had a vision that (Melancon) was going to rape a female.” 

After stabbing Melancon, witnesses said Kasper “went to the bathroom, washed the blood off the knife, returned it to the scabbard and placed it in his belt line,” and waited calmly for police to arrive, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

Melancon was rushed to St. Elizabeth Hospital where he later died of a stab wound to the chest. 

Police later interviewed Kasper’s mother, who told police her son had just been released from Baptist Behavioral Center due to “mental issues” and because he “sees things that are not there,” according to the probable cause affidavit. 

Kasper was mentally evaluated and found to be competent before pleading guilty. 

At his sentencing in Judge John Stevens Criminal District Court Monday, Sept. 30, Kasper’s defense argued it was their client’s mental instability and remorse that should be taken into account when judgment is rendered, saying Kasper’s fragile mental state was shattered by family drug use at home. 

“None of those problems are something Kurt is willing to hide behind,” Kasper’s defense attorney argued before asking Stevens to sentence Kasper to five years behind bars. 

But Stevens had some pressing questions regarding Kasper’s drug use, which was detailed in the pre-sentence report given to Stevens. 

“My question is this to you, sir, mental health aside, what are you doing with crack cocaine?” Stevens asked. 

Kasper replied he had just started using the drug and downplayed its significance in relation to the murder that night, saying he occasionally got it from “family and friends.” 

“What kind of family and friends are those? The family, you guys just get together and have family crack cocaine?” Stevens asked. “At Thanksgiving, we fix turkey. Where’s the crack? Was the crack for desert?” 

When pressed even further, Kasper eventually said it was his mother who had provided the crack cocaine that night. This prompted Kasper’s mother to openly blame the crack cocaine usage that night on the victim, Tim Melancon. 

Stevens was visibly disturbed by the revelation Kasper’s mother provided the drugs. 

“We all know that this can happen when you mix drugs with anything,” Stevens said. “Crack cocaine is terrible, and for it to be a family product is just shameful. Shameful. That’s not advanced citizenship — it’s shameful.” 

Before Stevens sentenced Kasper to the full 20 years under his guilty plea, Kasper apologized to the Melancon family and his own family, saying Tim Melancon “was a good person to me.” 

After the sentencing, prosecutor Pat Knauth said he was glad to see a tough case off the docket, but he was taken aback by Kasper’s mother making an outburst in court. 

“It was a surprise. I knew cocaine (use) was going on in the house, it was just who was using it and in what context we didn’t know,” he said. “I had no idea, although I suspected that the mother was using it, I didn’t expect that they would both admit it in court that she had supplied her son with cocaine. And then tried to, in a way, tried to blame it on the victim that he had supplied the cocaine. Whether true or not, you’re the mother. You know he has a substantial mental history, so like the judge said, that was a shame.” 

Part of the problem, Knauth said, is dwindling funds for mental health and behavioral services. 

“It’s an example of when people are trying to cut services, you’re trying to save money, the things that are hit first are mental health facilities and child protective services,” he said. “Those are the ones that are cut first and there are results because of that, and this is an example of that.” 

As Kasper was led to prison, Stevens lamented this case was one of the worst examples of family drug use and murder he’d ever seen. 

“I can’t say enough about how disgusting the facts are where you would be using crack cocaine that was provided by your own mother,” Stevens said. “You’d think that what I’ve heard in seven years, I’d be shocked, but out of thousands of cases, this is an all-time low. Shame on those people who participated in this and subjected somebody they know has mental issues to crack cocaine, which ultimately played an important part in the loss of this life.”