3/28/17 – Joan Becker – Speaker

  •  Educated pass classes
  • Has been publicly speaking about Mark and his illness
  • “How can you heal completely when you keep opening up that wound.”
  • Knows that she is helping people by sharing her story “I do not want another family to be in our shoes.”
  • What keeps is her going is knowing that people are getting help from her experience and story
  • June 24, 2009 – At work, because she could not be home alone with work, it was not safe
    • Phone was going off
    • Sherriff was notified of what Mark was doing
    • Sherriff wasn’t in, message was left
    • Dave, her husband, could tell something was not right at work
      • Heard coach had been shot
      • Husband thought it was mostly likely a heart attack
      • Ed Thomas had been teaching at Sunday School
    • Coach Thomas was a deacon for the church
      • Knew what Mark was going through
      • Helped as much as he could
    • Kept hearing that Thomas had been shot at the weight room, but no one knew for sure.
    • Police were in their yard and that’s when they found out that Mark was involved
    • Mark believed that his mom, dad and coach Thomas were poisoning young minds
  • “Difficult at best”
  • Saw Mark last week
    • Getting medication
    • Getting help
    • Has a direct line to Mark
    • The hospital has been helping a lot with Mark
    • Mark has been reading college level books
    • Mark admitted that he has an illness
    • Once he recognized it, he has been making strides towards getting better
    • Mark works full-time at the prison, cleaning
    • Mark encourages inmates to keep taking their medication
    • Mark will tell you point blank,  “I love the Thomas family.”
  • Nothing ever pointed to Mark’s intentions for hurting Ed Thomas
  • Only time Ed Thomas was mentioned was during a full-episode but it was along with other names.
  • Kept a journal thorough out her children’s lives.
  • First noticed a shift in Mark’s attitude at 16 years old
    • But it was also around the same time he was caught with Marijuana
    • Always’s wonder why he was doing it
  • Was losing reality, not knowing what was real voices and what was not real voices
  • He said, “You remember when I was little and I always wanted to sleep with you guys? Ever since I existed, the voices have been there, and they scared me.”
  • Joan wants to have mental-screening to help children who do have an illness but do not know
  • Mark did well, graduated school on a high note.
    • Enrolled and dropped out of school, 3 separate times
    • “Fought hard to succeed in school.” – Joan
    • Mark decided to self-medicate
      • Started taking heavy drugs
      • It clouded how doctor’s assessed him
    • Had two mental committable in 9 months
    • Was having horrific psychotic episodes
      • Threatening to do things to himself
    • He was loose cannon, you didn’t know what he was gonna do
    • Wish she would of, instead of emailing or calling, gone in person to get help
    • “It shouldn’t of taken prison, to get the help that he needed.” – Joan
  • Mark should of been diverted to a hospital, instead of going in and out of jail
  • “Grueling.” – when asked what it was like to sit on the stand.
  • “It shocks me, the half-truths that are being told.”
  • “They just didn’t tell the whole truth.”
  • Youngest son, had just left the weight room.
  • “When your youngest son, 17 years old, is praying out loud, to give his parents comfort. ” Joan than went on to emotionally explain the moment.
  • “God was there.” – Joan
  • Ed Thomas’ wife called Joan and said, “We are separating what Mark did, from your family.”
  • Rumors began to fly throughout the town
  • Her son, helped Joan and Dave get farther into their healing process today, than they would have if he was not their for them to support.
  • Forgiving Process
    • Hard at first
    • “We definitely forgave him, in our own time.”
    • Hardest was, forgiving the people who let them down, in their time of need.
    • “The Thomas family will have to forgive in their own time. Its a personal decision. Thats got to be there time of forgiving.”
  • Over the last 7 years
    • Kept fighting the idea that he did anything wrong
    • When he read the book from the psychiatrist that their was peace
  • We known that we need to look ahead
  • Mark has apologized to his mother for what he has caused
  • Kept saying over and over, “How could this be happening?”
  • “I needed to do this book, for me. I do not do it for the money, I do it for me.” – Joan
  • “I’ve chosen a lonely path…I do believe it has defined me.”
  • Could not heal, constant barrage of Ed’s not here, and it’s are son’s fault
  • First public outing, first football game of the season.
    • The community supported them
  • I escaped with my job and that wasn’t fair to my husband.
  • “We were bursting at the seams, we wanted to people to know the other side of the story.”
  • Mark went through an art phase
    • Painted 40 pieces
  • Slow down on the speaking, spend time with husband
  • Doesn’t want the speaking to be the main focus
  • Son mentioned that she could possibly have PTSD
  • The goal is to get people the right treatment that they need
    • Digianois
    • Treatment plan
    • Met with Governor Branstad
      • It was all about dollars and cents
      • He kept getting off track and she had to get him back on track
  • Mark feels safe in prison
  • The brothers visit Mark
    • Mark got to meet his niece
    • Mark loves being an uncle
  • Does not believe that nobody should get money for this tragedy
  • Will never do a lawsuit, because Ed Thomas hated lawsuits
  • To be pardoned, Mark would have to pay all the fines
  • “You don’t have to love what they did.”

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