JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two adults were found dead Wednesday morning in a home in the Paxon neighborhood of Jacksonville's Westside, police said.
The deaths, which family members said appear to be a murder-suicide, were reported on Wyolen Street, just north of Broadway Avenue and west of Edgewood Avenue North.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office did not release the names of the victims or the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but family members told News4Jax that 57-year-old Yolanda Binns lived in the home with her son, 36-year-old Trevor Binns. Family said both the mother and son suffered from mental illness.
Yolanda's daughter, Lovely Binns, said her daughter was the one who found the two dead -- Trevor in the living room and Yolanda in her bed.
"I just want to know what happened. It doesn't seem right that they're both dead," Lovely said. "I mean, what happened?"
Family members said the mother had stopped taking her medication not long ago, and the family believes one could have likely killed the other and then committed suicide.
"She's supposed to take her medicine. But that's not a reason why she had to die, because she wasn't taking any medicine. There's more to that," Lovely said. "It just doesn't make sense that my brother is dead and my mom is dead at the same time."
Neighbor Barbara Williamson told News4Jax she has known the mother and son for two years, and Yolanda never had a violent bone in her body.
"Miss Yolanda was very friendly and very outgoing. She was very charismatic," Williamson said. "She loved her plants and her cats."
According to the family, Trevor was developmentally disabled. In the past, he was arrested multiple times, committed under the Baker Act and ruled not competent for prosecution in cases. Yolanda was granted guardianship of him in 2007.
"He would have tantrums sometimes and she would say, 'Get your butt in the house,' 'Stop messing with people,' 'Stop smoking in the house.' She didn't tolerate any of that," Williamson said. "She had health issues herself, but she spent a great amount of time trying to take care of Trevor."
Trevor’s arrests included domestic battery, battery on a police officer, resisting police, improper exhibition of a firearm, possession of marijuana, disorderly intoxication, indecent exposure and trespassing. According to court records, he was placed in involuntary psychiatric evaluation at least three times. In three other cases, he was ruled not competent for prosecution.
According to a 2009 domestic battery arrest report, Trevor punched Yolanda Binns in the face several times, knocked her down and they argued because he wanted to move out. Yolanda told JSO Trevor was “homicidal” and often took his anger out on her.
Deaths put spotlight on mental health
The neighbor who knew both the mother and son said their deaths have put a spotlight on mental health issues.
"If we don't get enough education about mental illness, these things can happen," Williamson said.
Dr. Saira Saqib runs a psychiatric clinic on Jacksonville's Southside. She has no connection to the investigation, but said she feels bad for the family.
"It is sad being mentally ill and knowing how common it is and how tragedies like this or others can be prevented," the psychiatrist said.
Saqib explained what involuntary psychiatric evaluation entails.
“The involuntary commitment to a private hospital, or a place which is not a jail, would have an independent psychiatrist who would evaluate whether the patient is a danger to themselves or others," Saqib said. "If they are a danger to themselves or others, then they would remain in the hospital until the case is otherwise.”
She told News4Jax that state budget cuts are impacting programs designed to help people with mental disabilities. She also said there is a lack of mental health education for the public.
“We are progressing as a nation, but when it comes to mental illness, there is some type of shame associated with it," Saqib said. "I think we need to go beyond that -- get help and get educated.”
Saqib said any time a person shows signs of being a danger to themselves or the public, the best thing to do is call 911.
She encouraged people to get help from a professional, such as herself, no matter what time of day or night.