A Decatur woman accused of killing her husband was taken by law enforcement in Tennessee to a hospital for psychiatric treatment after an arrest earlier this month, authorities said.
Michelle Owens, 44, was taken to a Nashville-area hospital for an "emergency committal” to a psychiatric unit after speeding away from a deputy in Trousdale County, Tennessee, on June 4, Sheriff Ray Russell said.
A deputy attempted to pull Owens over for speeding, but she fled the scene, the sheriff said.
“She just took off, and they ended up using a spike strip to stop her,” Russell said. “We knew something was going on with her and she needed help.”
Family members have said Owens was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the past, according to court records. Her 17-year-old son said she recently had been “acting crazy,” according to the transcript of a 911 call he made that led to the discovery of his father’s shooting death.
Lawrence “Eddie” Owens, 44, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom at the family’s 2907 Lenox Drive S.W. residence Sunday afternoon, police said. The Owens’ 7-year-old son was in the home at the time, police said.
Michelle Owens is is being held in Morgan County Jail on a murder charge with bail set at $1 million.
Jail records show the woman has been exhibiting “erratic behavior.”
In Trousdale County, Owens was charged with misdemeanor evading arrest by motor vehicle and issued a speeding citation, though the charges were dropped after she was released from the hospital.
“She stayed for a couple of days before they released her back to us,” Russell said. “We kept her a day or so, then we released her to her husband (June 10) since she hadn’t bonded out.”
Russell said the charges were dropped because there was no property damage, the offenses were misdemeanors and Owens had received medical treatment.
“The judge and the district attorney agreed to that because it was obvious something was going on with her,” Russell said. “We just wanted to know she was getting help, and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
Also on June 4, Morgan County 911 received a call from Decatur police about an attempt to locate Michelle Owens, records show.
A report of the call shows someone called police to find out whether a child was in the car with Owens, who was in Tennessee, 911 operations manager Kelly Armor said.
Deputies didn’t locate a child in Owens’ car, according to Trousdale County investigators.
Russell said authorities don’t know why the woman was in the county, which has a population of less than 8,000 people, at 3 a.m. on a Saturday.
“Her husband said she might have been near here several years ago doing some kind of mission work with her mother, but there wasn’t any other time he could remember her coming here,” Russell said.
When told of the murder charge against Owens, the sheriff said the case is an example of the dangers law enforcement face when dealing with potentially mentally ill suspects.
“I’m just thankful she didn’t have a weapon when we encountered her,” he said.
When he called 911, the Owens’ 17-year-old son told a dispatcher his mother recently had purchased a pistol, “so she’s been carrying that around with her.”
Police haven’t said when Owens purchased the pistol or whether she had a permit.
Morgan County District Judge Brent Craig scheduled a preliminary hearing in the murder case for July 18 at 1:30 p.m.
After Michelle Owens’ initial appearance, Craig wrote in court records the woman was “extremely disruptive” and unable to understand the proceedings, which were conducted via two-way video.
Initial appearances typically are conducted with the judge in the courtroom and the defendant in the jail.
A memorial service for Eddie Owens is Friday at 3 p.m. at Ridout’s Brown-Service Funeral Home.