Mental illness played an unquestionable role in the stabbing death of a 9-year-old boy in Discovery Bay last weekend, a defense attorney for the boy’s suspected killer said today.
William Shultz, 18, appeared today in a Martinez courtroom but did not enter a plea. He is charged with murdering Jordan Almgren early Sunday morning while staying over at the boy’s house.
Prosecutors are additionally charging Shultz with “lying in wait,” or waiting for an opportunity to commit murder, as well as burglary while he was at Jordan’s house.
Shultz’s family had sought help for their son for “weeks and months” before the attack, Shultz’s defense attorney Robin Lipetzky said:
“The family tried desperately to get help for their son, who was exhibiting symptoms and signs of mental health illness.”
She said there was “no question” mental illness is a factor in the case, but said she could not comment on the nature of his mental illness.
Shultz’s family is “devastated,” Lipetzky said:
“They’ve expressed their concerns, their condolences and their sorrow to the other family. … It’s a tragic situation for both families, there’s no question about that.”
In an interview with a Bay Area News Group reporter, Shultz essentially confessed to the crime, saying he wanted to know what it would be like to take someone’s life and describing fears of the world ending.
Lipetzky said it was “unfortunate” the reporter was allowed to see him “under the circumstances.” The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Simon O’Connell, declined to comment on whether that interview would make it into evidence at court.
O’Connell said investigators are still interviewing witnesses and determining:
“… what witnesses saw that day and what the thoughts of Mr. Shultz were and why this tragedy occurred. … It’s incredibly sensitive. It sent shock waves through an entire community.”
“We’ve learned in the last few years that it’s not safe for kids to go to school, we’ve learned it’s not safe to send your children to other people’s houses, and now we’re finding out that it may not be safe to have other kids over to our own homes. … That’s disconcerting to anyone.”
Deputies responded shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday to a report of a stabbing at a home in the 1900 block of Frost Way in Discovery Bay. Arriving deputies quickly learned that the family had already taken Jordan to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to Contra Costa County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee.
Deputies quickly identified Shultz as a suspect and a Kaiser Permanente nurse, who had apparently seen social media reports implicating Shultz, told authorities he was being treated at the Kaiser medical center in Antioch.
He was arrested at the hospital without incident, Lee said.
Shultz is familiar with the victim’s family and was staying at their home overnight, Lee said. Investigators believe he attacked Jordan at some point during the early morning hours, but Lee said they have not established a motive for the stabbing.
On Saturday, Shultz’s family had requested that deputies evaluate their son’s mental health status, Lee said.
The deputies determined he did not meet the criteria to be placed on an involuntary mental health hold. Lee said Shultz voluntarily agreed to be taken to the hospital, but was later released.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact sheriff’s detectives at (925) 313-2600.
Shultz is due back in court on May 22.