Police are still investigating a bizarre act of random violence when a 42-year-old woman jumped into the vehicle of the Denver Fire Chief and stabbed him multiple times.
According to the Huffington Post, Chief Eric Tade was driving his black SUV near the fire department’s headquarters last Tuesday afternoon when Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez got into his car and stabbed him in the hand and leg. Tade managed to climb out of the car and walk himself to the hospital. Fortunately, he only sustained minor injuries.
Witnesses identified Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez at the scene of the random stabbing, and she was soon arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault. She remains in custody for attempted murder and is held on a $100,000 bond. But the question still remains: Why did the woman target the fire chief for such a vicious act of violence?
Despite Eric Tade’s leadership position as fire chief, authorities believe Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez selected a vehicle randomly off the street for the stabbing. Police spokesman Doug Schepman reported that he doesn’t believe Eric Tade or Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez have any connection to one another. Tade was driving an unmarked vehicle when Zacevich-Rodriguez jumped inside.
The explanation provided by the suspect’s family makes the stabbing more disturbing. According to local NBC 9 News, the son of Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez claims she suffers from schizophrenia. He attributes the attack to her mental illness, saying she is actually a good person who would never intentionally hurt somebody.
“We all love my mom. She’s not a bad person. Like I said, she just had an episode. The mind got the best of her. She’s great with kids, she’s great with family. It’s just these health problems is what affects her.”
Specifically, Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez suffers from hallucinations, which may have been what provoked the spontaneous stabbing. Her son is unsure if she was taking her medication at the time she attacked Tade, but she would have no other reason to act violently. He claims Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez is not on illegal drugs or homeless — she’s simply been struggling with schizophrenia and hallucinations for at least five years.
“We apologize to Mr. Eric Tade for her attacking him, my mom’s episode,” said her son. “And I know there is no right for her to do it and I hope he forgives my mom and I hope his family forgives her as well.”
According to Westword, other accounts from Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez’s family members confirm the mental illness. Some have admitted the 42-year-old is “not right in the head.” Her family also revealed that her schizophrenic episodes are severe enough that they always feared one day Marlene would go completely “crazy.”
Judge Andrea Eddy permitted Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez to be released on bond as long as she wears a GPS device and signs a protection order to stay away from Fire Chief Eric Tade. However, the suspect’s son claims she doesn’t have enough money to make bail, so she will have to remain in jail.
Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez appeared in court the Thursday following the stabbing but did not come out from behind closed doors.
Since the crime was committed, the Denver Police Department has released a bullet point list of facts about the crime, which confirms the idea that the attack was random and unprovoked outside of a possible hallucination.
“• There is no apparent prior connection between the victim and suspect.
• The victim was not targeted due to his position as Denver Fire Chief or as a public safety official.
• The assault appears to be random and unprovoked.”
What do you think was the motive for Marlene Zacevich-Rodriguez to attack the police chief?
[Image via the Denver Police Department]