A Virginia Beach man who cut off his 5-year-old son’s head in 2009 is ready to be released, according to mental health experts. At a hearing this morning, two mental health experts testified that they believe Joseph Henry Hagerman III is ready to leave Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, according to The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. Hagerman was committed to the hospital after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the killing of his son Joshua Hagerman.
Hagerman had a history of mental illness and was sleep deprived and hadn’t been taking his psychiatric medications when he attacked his son with a serrated knife in the family living room in February, 2009. A devout Christian, Hagerman believed by killing his son, he was saving him from the “Antichrist,” according to Norfolk’s WKTR. His wife Shirley told police that Hagerman was telling his son to give his life to Jesus during the attack, in which she also suffered injuries as she tried to stop it.
At a prior court appearance, attorneys said Hagerman attacked fellow inmates and patients he believed to be “Antichrists,” while in treatment. However, at today’s hearing, psychiatrist Maria Burke, called Hagerman a "model patient," with whom "we've had absolutely no issues.” Under the terms of his proposed release, the now 42-year-old would be placed in an adult foster care group home and regularly monitored by his psychiatrist and treatment team. In fact, in the last three years Hagerman has already left the facility on weekend passes without incident almost 150 times. For their part, prosecutors strongly oppose Hagerman’s release.