Family of man who killed parents fights his release

WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. – The family of 45-year-old Richard Happ, who killed his parents 15 years ago, is fighting his release to a less-secure facility.

A panel of three judges will ultimately decide if Happ will move from the state hospital in St. Peter to a state licensed residential facility in West. St. Paul.

Happ stabbed his parents to death at their home in Waconia back in 1999 and threatened his younger brother Dave. He was found not guilty by reason of mental illness.

"St. Peter is basically treating him as if the murders didn't happen. He's not liable for them," said younger brother Dave Happ.

The Happ family along with the Carver County Attorney's Office is appealing the decision by a Department of Human Services panel that agreed to provisionally discharge him from the St. Peter facility.

According to a finding of fact and recommendation report, the state believes he is "low-risk for re-offending" and that "he has been free of aggressive behavior" since his admission. The report also states that Happ has gone through therapy and has more insight into his illness and its triggers.

His family members are not so sure and fear for their safety.

"It seems like we're battling our own state to do the right thing," said Happ's cousin, Dean Stuewe. "It's my contention this move is premature."

In a general statement, a DHS spokesperson said a patient who is provisionally discharged is "subjected to multiple conditions and close monitoring." The statement went on to say, "Even when someone has successfully been treated, we take great care to address risks to others in the community."

The judges, who held a hearing in West St. Paul on the issue Friday, will not make their ruling for several more months, according to attorneys.

Richard Happ left the court hearing, along with his attorney without commenting.

Dave Happ is considering moving out of state if his brother's provisional discharge is approved.

"Everybody has always walked a bit on edge knowing this day may come," he said.


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