Criminal defense attorneys advise their clients to avoid talking to the media, which is why I was surprised to see Casey Casper walk into the Tribune office last week in advance of his scheduled preliminary hearing.
Casper seemed eager to discuss the incident in July where he showed up uninvited to the home of the local obstetrician who oversaw his girlfriend’s delivery at Neosho Memorial. Charges were filed against Casper that range from stalking to impeding the duties of law enforcement and stealing a truck.
Most people would consider having a virtual stranger randomly show up at their front door uninvited is appropriately scary for a Halloween column, so it didn’t surprise me that the incident attracted so much social media attention. It also inspired hospital and law enforcement to limit access at Neosho Memorial for a few weeks.
I interviewed Casper about his grievances with the local hospital before this incident occurred, and have written about the case against him since then. Last week was the first time I had an actual conversation with him about what occurred that night.
Casper told me he showed up at the doctor's house to object to patients being pressured to use Pitocin during deliveries. Casper said that he felt that talking to the doctor directly would be the most constructive way to resolve any conflicts.
According to Casper, he just rang the doorbell at the house, no one answered, and he was about to walk away when sheriff’s vehicles pulled up to the home. Contrary to official reports that he took off running when the deputies arrived, Casper said he talked to law enforcement at the scene and was initially cooperative.
Casper reported he was told by a deputy that the homeowner reported that he was banging on the door and behaving violently, both of which he strongly denies. He said he offered to leave the scene and walk home, but that he took off running as soon as the deputy had handcuffs out and was about to arrest him.
“When I felt my liberty was in jeopardy and when the police were not actually enforcing the law, I was protecting my liberty,” Casper said. “And I claim civil disobedience.”
Casper denies that he stole a truck to get away, and offered no explanation for why he was accused of this.
When I asked how he ultimately got away from law enforcement, Casper replied, “I’m pretty clever, I guess. I maintained cover in cornfields and in the woods. I could see them, but they couldn’t really see me.”
Casper also refuted reports issued by law enforcement immediately after the incident that he had a gun or was armed, stating that he never wished any harm on anybody, and didn’t do anything violent.
He refused to say where he went during the couple of months he was on the lam. During this time, numerous comments were left on the Chanute Tribune Facebook page about the situation by a user named Casey Casper. Casper said he has never had a Facebook account, and denied that he made any of these comments.
“I heard at my status hearing that the prosecutor wanted to have a mental health evaluation based on Facebook posts,” Casper said, with a chuckle, “and I was kind of confused by that. I don’t mess with it, and I am not a Facebook guy.”
I was a bit disappointed upon hearing this because the person making these comments as ‘Casey Casper’ was complimentary of my skills as a journalist. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that someone who complimented me has publicly denied doing so.
Casper ultimately turned himself in to law enforcement because he wants to be with his girlfriend and her son, who are currently living in Georgia with her father.
“Being on the run, with the police interested in arresting me, it could put them at risk,” Casper said. “So, I wanted to get all this stuff dealt with because I want to be with them.”
He spent six weeks in jail before bailing out, a decision that was prompted because, he said, guards were putting toothpaste in his food there. He said he could tell by the smell and the taste of his food, and charged that officers at the jail refused to investigate his complaint.
When I asked Neosho County Sheriff Jim Keath about this claim, he strongly denied these allegations. Keath stated that meals at the jail are prepared by an outside contractor and randomly distributed to inmates. This would make it virtually impossible for anyone working at the jail to know which inmate’s food they were preparing or to target any individual.
Fittingly, Casper said he has been in touch with Southeast Kansas Mental Health about getting mental help. Despite spending so much time with our local politicians, I am no expert on mental illness, so I don’t quite know what issues Casper may have. I just know how difficult it is to get good mental health services right now in this region.
Casper thinks he has many listed symptoms of autism, although he has not been officially diagnosed with the disorder. Casper said he is trying to learn to better communicate, so people won’t have such a bad impression of him.
“I don’t understand why they’re treating me like a criminal,” Casper said. “I feel like they’re treating me bad. I’m a person, and I wish they would treat me like a good guy, or at least like I was innocent until proven guilty. I wish they could think the best of me, but it seems like they’ve been treating me like I’m something that I’m not.”
I pointed out that he would very likely have been out of trouble by now and able to be with his family if he had cooperated with Sheriff’s deputies that night and served his time. Or, better yet, if he hadn’t chosen to confront the doctor at her home in the first place. Casper expressed regrets about that behavior.
“I don’t know sometimes how to protect myself, speak for myself, or the best way to defend myself,” Casper said, “but I wish it would have turned out different. It hasn’t been good at all, the past couple of months.”
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