Charges: Adult son stabbed his mom, dad to death with a screwdriver

The 38-year-old had struggled with mental illness and addiction for years.
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A 38-year-old man is accused of stabbing his mother and father to death with a screwdriver in their Eden Prairie home.

Police found the two victims dead in a home on the 6000 block of Woodhill Trail Thursday morning, after one of them didn't show up at work. They arrested a man that day in Buffalo – and 24 hours later he was facing murder charges.

Nathaniel Lehman was charged Friday with two counts of second-degree murder, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced. According to the office, he has a history of mental health and addiction problems, specifically with methamphetamine.

The charges accuse Lehman of showing up at his parents' home around 1:30 a.m. – he told police he found his mother, Debra, in the bathroom and began stabbing her with a screwdriver. His father Robert came in to her cries for help, and he began stabbing him as well, the charge say.

He left within 30 minutes, tossing two screwdrivers out of the car after driving away, and told investigators he was high on meth at the time, according to the charges.

A medical examiner found Debra Lehman had been stabbed at least 20 times, and had severe trauma to her face. Robert Lehman had been stabbed at least 35 times. The charges say the bathroom they were found in was "covered" in blood.

Nathaniel Lehman had apparently moved back in with his parents, but disappeared and wasn't following the guidelines set out by his mental health case worker, the attorney's office says. The Star Tribune has more on Nathaniel Lehman's repeated domestic issue with his parents, as well as his struggles with addiction.

He was arrested in Buffalo with bloody clothes and a hatchet in the trunk of his car, the criminal complaint says. He's expected to be in court Tuesday.

Addiction and mental illness

Mental illness is experienced by nearly one in five Americans every year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says. That can range from things that have small impacts on daily life, to serious conditions. About 10 million Americans suffer from a such a serious mental illness that it interferes with major life activities.

And mental illness rates are extremely high among the 20 million or so Americans who deal with a substance use disorder; about half have a co-occurring mental illness.

According to a 2016 report to the Minnesota Legislature, 5.5 percent of adults in Minnesota met the criteria for having alcohol use disorder in the past year, while about 2 percent of adults in the state met the criteria for a drug use disorder.

The report found about 6.9 percent of adults need some type of treatment for substance use – 5.7 percent need it for alcohol, while 2.1 percent need it for drug use. And those who needed treatment the most were men ages 18-24; American Indians; and people without health insurance.

More than nine out of 10 adults with a substance use disorder did not receive any treatment in the past year, the report found.

Anyone who needs help dealing with a mental illness can call the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-9264 (NAMI) Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Or you can reach the NAMI crisis line by texting NAMI to 741-741.

If you’re struggling with addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a website that shows residential, outpatient and hospital inpatient treatment program locations. The National Institutes of Health has more options, and a guide of what to do if a friend or loved one has a substance abuse problem.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can also be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

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