A man who brutally killed a store manager in Alexandria, Virginia, because he allegedly believed the victim was a werewolf is being allowed to leave a mental health facility and move into the community, News4 is first to report.
Friends of the victim, Brad Jackson, are upset with the judge’s decision.
“It’s terrifying to think that after three years, this is acceptable — that this is what we call justice,” friend Andrea Milliken said. “It’s scary.”
Jackson was a familiar figure in Old Town Alexandria, beloved by a close-knit group of friends.
“He was always happy, with a smile. Laughter was infectious,” Milliken said.
In July 2018, Jackson was found dead in a horrendous scene at the window business where he worked in an upstairs office on King Street. He had been stabbed more than 50 times by Pankaj Bhasin — a complete stranger. Jackson was 65.
During his trial, attorneys said Bhasin, 34 at the time of the killing, drove from New Jersey to Virginia in a psychotic state and attacked Jackson because he thought the store manager was a werewolf.
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Bhasin was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered to be confined at the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute.
Now, after three years of treatment, his doctors say Bhasin is well enough to leave the facility. An Alexandria judge signed an order for conditional release.
The commonwealth’s attorney’s office told News4 they “strenuously” objected to the release.
The judge’s order contains a long list of requirements. Bhasin must take his medication, submit to drug and alcohol testing, and pay for his own GPS monitor.
His parents will play a key role. He must either live with them in Alexandria or Fairfax County, or if he moves into an apartment tied to a mental health agency, a parent must live nearby. Home visits by Community Services Board staffers are required.
Jackson’s friends are distraught and question the judge’s decision.
“Anyone that’s capable of doing that is capable of doing that again,” said friend Sarah Bryen.
“My heart kind of stopped, and immediately tears came to my eyes,” Milliken said. “It’s so frustrating and makes you just angry that something like this could actually happen.”
A review hearing will be held in December to see whether the plan for Bhasin’s release is working.