BOISE – The parents of a man charged with killing a university student and suspected in two other shootings say they did everything “under the law and in our power” to prevent their son from harming others, but in the end he “was very sick, and needed more than this system had to offer.”
John Delling is charged with first-degree murder in the March 31 shooting death of University of Idaho student David Boss in Moscow.
Police also suspect him in the slaying of Meridian resident and Boise State University student Bradley Morse in Boise two days later, and the March 20 shooting of University of Arizona student Jacob Thompson. Thompson survived the attack outside his Tucson, Ariz., home.
Authorities earlier this month searched the Antelope home of Raymond and Carol Delling, who formerly lived in Boise.
In a brief phone conversation with the Idaho Statesman, Carol Delling confirmed from her Antelope, Calif., home that she sent an open letter to the newspaper, but declined to answer questions.
Besides the letter from Delling’s parents, the newspaper on Tuesday obtained court records that appear to show some of the leads that helped authorities connect the shootings of Boss in Moscow and Morse in Boise.
Delling, Boss and Thompson were all former classmates at Timberline High School in Boise. Morse attended high school in nearby Meridian at about the same time as the other three.
Earlier this week, Delling appeared before a magistrate in Boise on a felony grand theft charge involving Morse’s car. He was assigned a public defender and his bail was set at $2 million.
A preliminary hearing on the theft charge has been set for April 30.
Family members and court documents suggest that Delling struggled with mental illness, and the letter touched on that:
“One thing is clear. There was no preventative safety net in place to correct or rein-in a ‘potentially serious’ situation; no legislation, no mental health entity, nor any church-based aid could get a firm handle on this. John was very sick, and needed more than this system had to offer.”
Idaho officials said the state does offer help to those who want it.
“In all honesty, a lot of treatment is voluntary,” Tom Shanahan, a state Health and Welfare spokesman, told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “We can’t make someone receive treatment. Unless a court commits a person to our care, treatment is voluntary.”
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office can detain people for 24 hours if they are considered a threat to themselves or others. The people who are detained are evaluated by health care workers.
“In a majority of those cases, those people are out in 24 hours,” said Ada County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Johnson. “Typically, the experience is we see them over and over again. They have serious mental health issues and there’s no place for them to go.”
But he said serious cases are hard to predict.
“There are thousands of angry kids who have malicious injury to property, or got into a fight,” Johnson said. “But they don’t end up killing people.”
Court records show that on April 3, the same day Morse’s body was found, an Ada County sheriff’s detective told a judge that he’d received a call from Boise State University police about a request they had received from a student asking for protection from Delling and offering tips.
Matt Meyer of Boise told university police that in an earlier encounter, Delling had assaulted him and vandalized his car.
Meyer made the call to university police after learning Boss had been killed in Moscow.
He said he had been afraid of Delling for years.
“If he’s here in Boise and he’s snapped, he’s going to be in the south end, and he’s armed and he won’t leave the south end and it will be at night,” Meyer recounted to the newspaper what he told university police after Boss’s death.
The university police passed that information on to Ada County detectives.
“After the U of I homicide and the Morse homicide, we had information that a Boise State student was in fear of John Delling,” said Boise police Lt. Doug Schoenborn, who heads the BSU campus police.
“I don’t know what tied it all together for them. We hoped that information would assist them.”