ABC11 Investigates

Man who decapitated daughter granted new freedoms

Friday, March 08, 2013

A Clayton man declared legally insane after he decapitated his 4-year-old daughter was back in a Smithfield courtroom Friday seeking new freedoms.

A judge ruled John Patrick Violette can have 5-hour privileges instead of 1-3 but he has to be heavily supervised. He's also been moved the Central Prison mental health facility in Butner, and he's no longer allowed to work with knives.

Violette was 37 on January 12, 2007 when he attacked his daughter Katlin in their home on Clayton's McKinnon Drive.

The child's mother came home to find the bloody corpse lying in a hallway. Violette was not there. His vehicle was later found at Raleigh Durham International Airport. Investigators used credit card receipts to track him to a hotel in Washington, D.C. where he was arrested by U.S. Marshals.

Officials said when they went into Violette's room he appeared confused and was screaming quotes from the Bible.

Violette did not fight extradition, and he was returned to North Carolina to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge. But that trial never took place. At a competency hearing one year after the murder, a judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a state mental institution.

A psychiatrist testified Violette was insane when he stabbed his daughter to death and dismembered her body. Even Violette's wife took the stand to plead on his behalf.

Experts said he suffered from schizophrenia and psychosis, and testified Violette heard voices in his head - voices that told him his daughter was an evil spirit. Violette reportedly decapitated Katlin to keep the spirit from escaping.

Clayton Police Chief Glen Allen has told ABC11 in previous interviews that he reluctantly went along with Violette's commitment. He said he never believed that a man who could butcher his daughter, then calmly catch a flight to Washington and check into a hotel room, could be too crazy to know what he was doing - too crazy to stand trial.

Allen has attended every status hearing for Violette and opposed giving him any freedoms.

Violette's case has reignited the age-old debate about whether violent mental patients are safe if they're on medication and in therapy. Mental health experts say some are, while others aren't so sure.

Allen has said he has deep concerns about allowing Violette to have any interaction with the public. In previous hearings, he's been given privileges such as working in a state-run restaurant with knives on the Dorothia Dix hospital campus (now closed), allowed walks - unescorted - around mental institution campuses, and escorted off-campus trips.

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