IUKA, Miss. (WTVA) -- Tishomingo County Sheriff Glenn Whitlock keeps a picture of his father and mother close by. He finds himself in a rare position these days — both law enforcement officer and victim.
Years later, Hezzie Whitlock would remarry. Their time together would be short.
"They were sitting on their couch in their living room holding hands and watching TV and never knew anything was coming," Whitlock said.
In June 2008, Joshua Vandiver entered the home of his great aunt Jean and shot Hezzie Whitlock in the chest.
State mental health professionals have determined Vandiver suffers from a severe mental illness and his actions on that day were a case of temporary insanity.
They believe with medication and monitoring he will be able to return to society. If he falls out of his medical regimen, doctors do believe he could once again become violent.
A Mississippi Circuit Court judge has decided Vandiver's fate based on that diagnosis.
Vanidiver's mental state will be evaluated weekly along with any potential drug or alcohol use. As long as he complies, he will be free. It's a reality that does not set well with the family.
"Our goal from the very start was that he be put in a situation where this could never happen to another family, and because of the laws and the statutes, that's not the case with a person who is deemed mentally ill at the time of the crime," son Paul Whitlock said.
"Well, it's such a rarity that it makes the news. It's just something that rarely happens. It's an extremely high threshold that from a medical point of view that has to be met before a person is released for reason of insanity," Tupelo attorney Jason Shelton said.
The sheriff says Vandiver's release is going to prevent them from getting the one thing they need now and that's closure.
"Closure I don't think for myself or my family will ever come in that this was the best that could be done under a very trying circumstance," Whitlock added.
Should Vandiver fail to abide by the court's stipulations for 30 years of treatment, he will be placed in a state mental facility.