Today marks the six-year anniversary of the death of my mother, Dana Davis.
My mother was unfortunately allegedly killed by the hands of my sister, Christina Mavris. Police say Christina stabbed my mother to death with several sharp instruments on May 3, 2007, and then set fire to my mother’s Crosland Park home.
Christina was jailed and charged with murder, later found incompetent to stand trial because of her mental illness, which was diagnosed as schizophrenia. She was hospitalized through the S.C. Department of Mental Health, and was released again into police custody.
My family and I are victims of a much greater issue, bigger than just homicide. The mental health care epidemic seems to be spreading like a cancer in families all over this country. Yet, neither side of Congress wants to touch the issue at any length. You hear discussions of stronger gun control, as if that would keep a mentally ill patient from another means of violence toward unsuspecting victims.
Furthermore, I have observed that the families of the mentally ill perpetrators of these terrible and unthinkable crimes are never interviewed or even focused on and, believe me, I look for it as a victim. I look for another voice that is unafraid and unashamed.
The reality of the situation for families that suffer with a person with a mental illness is that no family wants to come under more scrutiny, blame or persecution. In my experience, the judgments about my sister’s actions and my mother’s death are very black and white, and although the laws of this country stand firm and absolute, mental illness isn’t.
That fact is clear to those of us who live with a mental illness or have a family member that lives with a patient of a mental illness. There is no way to predict what will set a patient off, and even if there was, it’s not easy to get that patient institutional care and medication unless you have unlimited wealth, good health insurance and infinite resources to do it.
I believe my mother felt that the only way she could help my sister was by putting herself at risk.
Unfortunately, she was a single parent, she had financial limits, and no matter how many times she tried to help my sister, it was never enough because the health insurance she carried wouldn’t cover her adult child.
Six years later, we’re not any closer to a conclusion than we were in 2007.
A trial date has not been set and since my sister’s re-arrest last year, I have not spoken with her ― not by my choice ― but hers. I am constantly told by people, “ You need to move forward,” and all I can say to them is that I have, but I always find that I have to return to 2007 whenever a court date comes up or when the anniversary of mom’s death creeps up, like it does every year. There has been no resolution, and Aiken County has had six years to figure all this out and get on with it.
I’m also asked by others, “What will you do after the trial is over? Will it be enough to satisfy you?”
My answer to them is, “Probably not, but at least there isn’t an open wound.” I wasn’t prepared to lose my mother the way I did. I thought we had more time.
Her last words to me were, “Promise me, if something happens to me, you’ll graduate college … and you’ll get Christina help.”
I graduated college last Mother’s Day (the same weekend as her funeral in 2007) with a bachelor’s degree in theater.
I have yet to find a clear answer as to how to help my sister. I just keep writing, praying, and reaching out to my own community. That’s all I can do.
Madalyn Mavris is a daughter of Dana Davis, who was murdered in 2007.
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