Attempted-Bombing Suspect's Family Is 'Flabbergasted' at FBI

Jerry Drake Varnell's parents says he has schizophrenia—and FBI took advantage
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2017 10:36 AM CDT
Family: FBI Knew Bomb-Plot Suspect Had Mental Illness
Jerry Drake Varnell   (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

The family of the Oklahoma man accused of plotting to blow up a bank says they're "heartbroken" but stand by Jerry Drake Varnell—who got caught up in a situation spurred by his mental illness and only made possible with aid from the FBI. NewsOK posts a statement from his parents that describes the 23-year-old as a "sweet-hearted person" who has paranoid schizophrenia, was deemed mentally incompetent by the state, and is under their legal care. Though they say they've helped their son be as "functional" as possible—including supporting him enrolling in welding school—Varnell has a history of mental hospital stays and has had "serious full-blown schizophrenic delusional episodes." But what the Varnells say really has them "flabbergasted": the FBI's knowledge of his schizophrenia.

"The FBI clearly knew that he was schizophrenic because they have gathered every ounce of information on him," they write, and yet the FBI gave him a vehicle and fake bomb, per CBS News. Without an undercover FBI agent's help, they claim their son wouldn't have gotten so far in the alleged plot: Because of his mental illness, he has "no job, no money, no vehicle, and no driver's license." A story in the Dallas Observer by a woman who says she's Varnell's ex-girlfriend supports his parents' story of his struggle with schizophrenia. "If the FBI hadn't went along with it, it probably wouldn't have gone as far as it did. ... He can't reason," the woman says. What Varnell's parents think FBI agents should've done: filed conspiracy charges against him and had him committed to a mental institution. (More bomb plot stories.)

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