America's political vitriol resonates with mentally ill, mail bomb suspect's mother warns

Posted at 3:41 PM, Nov 05, 2018

The mother of mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc writes that she is estranged from her son but hurt by his alleged attacks, and she calls on the country -- specifically, President Donald Trump -- to tone down the nasty rhetoric.

She further warned that the political vitriol -- particularly talk of "war" against the media and political parties — could resonate with the mentally ill, like her son, and inspire them to "violently act out in our country," Madeline Sayoc wrote in an open letter to television network ABC, which published the correspondence Sunday night.

Madeline Sayoc also said that her 56-year-old son's relatives had tried, to no avail, to get him help, and that American families need better laws to allow families to "compel and require" treatment, when necessary.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear ABC:

I am presently recuperating from surgery last week and having difficulty breathing. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to write this letter to share my feelings and views. I awakened from my surgery in the hospital last week to learn that my son Cesar has been arrested as the accused (bomber).

While I have not lived with my son for 35 years or even heard from him in over four years, I cannot express how deeply hurt, sad, shocked and confused I am to hear that my son may have caused so many people to be put in fear for their safety. This is not how I raised him or my children.

While I am grateful that no one was actually harmed, all of us in America have an absolute right to live their lives without fear of violent harm, injury or death.

My son has been ill for a long time and my family and I have tried, over and over again, without success to urge him to get the help he needs.

We, in America, have a mental health crisis in this country and need to change the laws to allow families to compel and require mental health treatment for those in need of such treatment before their illness worsens to where it is too late.

Similarly, our political leaders, like our President, Donald Trump, need to recognize that there are many sick people in this country who take their rhetoric and words of "War with the Media" and "War with the Democrats" to heart and view such messages as a license to violently act out in our country.

This type of talk excites and incites and is unacceptable. I beg President Trump and others to refrain from talk of War with fellow Americans and remember, as Senator McCain taught us, that we may politically disagree, but we are all patriotic Americans and all we want is a safe country for all Americans.


Madeline Sayoc

Cesar Sayoc of Aventura, Florida, is accused of mailing as many as 16 packages carrying suspected explosives to CNN offices and prominent Democrats, including ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Authorities have classified the packages as a "domestic terror attack" that Sayoc had been planning since July. A federal judge in Miami ruled last week that he will be transferred to face charges in New York, where some of the targets of his packages lived and worked.

A letter filed by prosecutors said Sayoc was expected to arrive in New York on Monday and appear before a federal judge Tuesday morning. Prosecutors intend to ask that he be detained until trial, based on the flight risk and the danger he allegedly poses to the community.

In Miami, Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres told Sayoc he stands charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers. The charges are punishable by 48 years in prison.

CNN and documentarian Michael Moore separately captured footage of Sayoc attending Trump rallies and chanting, "CNN sucks," and holding aloft a sign to that effect. He regularly took to social media to lambast Democratic donors and politicians, some of whom he is now accused of targeting with the mail bombs, authorities say.

Sayoc's attorney, Daniel Aaronson, has said that his client intends to plead not guilty to the crimes.

"Nobody has been able in a court of law to say that those were bombs that he sent," the attorney said. "Therefore there is no reason why he should speak or possibly have any information to impart."

Aaronson has not addressed his client's mental state.