The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 28, 2014

Release of man who killed parents considered

Richard Happ committed indefinitely to St. Peter


The Mankato Free Press

---- — ST. PAUL (AP) — Relatives of a man sent to a secure psychiatric hospital after killing his parents 14 years ago in Carver County will argue against his release.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services says Richard Happ is ready to leave the Minnesota Security Hospital and live in a state-operated residential facility in West St. Paul. The agency's report recommendation said Happ is considered at low risk to reoffend, has gained great insight into his mental illness and "is at a point of being ready to move on."

The recommendation that Happ, 45, be released also included some concerns. A psychologist representing Carver County Human Services cautions that Happ isn't symptom-free, his psychosis wasn't sufficiently addressed in a risk assessment report and his history of substance abuse before commitment was substantial.

Happ's brother, Dave Happ, and his cousin, Dean Stuewe, of Chaska, will try to convince a panel of three Dakota County District Court judges Friday that Richard Happ isn't ready for release.

The Carver County Attorney's Office agreed, writing in the report that "if (Happ's release) goes badly, then it will go very badly."

"I'm very worried they will have him heavily medicated and roll the dice," Dave Happ said. "The people releasing him may not be around in two, three or five years. There is no culpability."

Dave Happ witnessed the deaths of his parents, Richard and Angela Happ, on March 24, 1999, at their home in Waconia. The couple was killed with a butcher knife as Dave Happ, then 27, fled the house and called police.

After being charged in the crimes, Richard Happ was deemed mentally ill and dangerous and committed indefinitely to St. Peter.

If the judicial panel agrees to release Happ, Carver County could petition the state Court of Appeals, according to the Star Tribune.

Happ's discharge petition was filed by Dr. Steven Pratt, the forensic medical director at the state security hospital. A special review board approved it after hearing testimony and reviewing 41 documents, including a letter from Stuewe pleading for Happ's continued commitment.