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Keswick man who admitted to killing his mother deemed unfit for trial

Distracted by the blood smeared on the front door as they arrived at a Keswick-area residence, Albemarle County police say they inadvertently walked past the corpse of the woman whose welfare they’d been sent to check on.

The admitted killer, who had covered his mother’s body in debris by the front stoop, was recently declared incompetent for trial, a ruling that appears to consign Tyler James Warr to living in a locked mental institution.

“I lost both a daughter and a grandson that day, and he does not realize he killed his best friend and advocate when he killed her,” Warr’s grandmother Janine Easterwood told The Daily Progress.

Easterwood urged Albemarle County Circuit Court to spare her grandson from life in prison for killing her daughter, 47-year-old Madeline Renee Easterwood Colvin. Easterwood urged the judge to instead take note of findings that her grandson’s actions stemmed from mental problems more deserving of treatment than punishment.

On March 19, Judge Cheryl Higgins seemed to agree with attending psychiatrists when she signed an order finding that the 26-year-old Warr is “unrestorably incompetent.” The order directs authorities to keep Warr at Central State Hospital in Petersburg until September 2025, when the court will reevaluate the situation.

“Anything that keeps him out a general population is what I want to see and getting the care that none of us could give him,” Easterwood said.

Documents filed with the court paint a picture of an unrelenting tragedy for the family that climaxed on Nov. 10, 2020, when Colvin, who went by Maddy, didn’t show up at her job that evening.

“It wasn’t like Maddy to take off work without letting her supervisor know,” Easterwood told the court in a letter. “I called Tyler. He told me she said something about driving up North for a few days.”

Rattled by that explanation, Easterwood sought the welfare check that resulted in the grisly discovery in her daughter’s yard. After an officer tracked down Warr, who visited University of Virginia Medical Center with hand lacerations, two detectives debriefed the young man.

“Warr described how he took a knife to her bedroom and stood in the doorway watching her sleep for about 30 minutes before he attacked her,” a police detective wrote. “Warr said that he intended to kill her.”

He told the officer that he began stabbing his mother while she was still asleep and that she woke up and ran for the front door.

“Warr continued stabbing her as she exited the house on the front stoop, and when she fell on the ground he continued to stab her in the back,” according to the police narrative. “He wanted to make sure she was dead.”

Warr told the detectives that he then went to Walmart to get some new clothes and discarded what he was wearing during the the attack.

“Warr then indicated that he that he disposed of his cellular phone so that he could not be tracked and was attempting to leave the area to start a new life,” the detective wrote.

The ensuing coroner’s report listed 57 wounds to Colvin’s head, back, chest and shoulder.

“My grandson Tyler can’t be remorseful or grief-stricken,” Easterwood wrote in her letter. “He is mentally ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia.”

Easterwood asserts that Warr was a normal child: “a gregarious, fun-loving kid who enjoyed playing with his cousins.” After high school graduation and a church camp trip with one cousin, she said he became eager to join a church and was baptised at Laurel Hill Baptist Church in northern Albemarle County.

After his high school graduation and his parents divorce, Warr lived with his grandparents in Orange County and got a job at Macmillan Publishing Services, a major publishing house that operates a large distribution center in Orange.

“He came home one day after a weekend of using mind-altering drugs and was obviously high for two days, acting strangely and telling all the details of his hallucinations,” Easterwood wrote. “As though his grandmother wanted to hear it.”

Easterwood said her daughter subsequently invited Warr to live with her after she rented a duplex in the Keswick community of Albemarle. His mother would take Warr for mental health treatment, but he wouldn’t stay on the prescribed medication, said his grandmother. Warr, she said, wound up losing jobs and provoking emergency visits from police. Court records show a 2016 charge, later dismissed, for assaulting his mother.

“He would argue at length with her at times,” Easterwood said.

Easterwood described her daughter was a kind and creative person whose work as a caregiver at Commonwealth Senior Living brought joy to and from the residents, something that Commonwealth’s human resources director, Tommy Comer, confirmed.

“Her kindness and compassion have been truly missed,” Comer told The Daily Progress.

Still, her mother said, the overnight shifts left Colvin with little energy to deal with her troubled son.

“She was not afraid of him," Easterwood said. “Just worn out.”

Today, Easterwood said, she continues to call and correspond with her grandson despite his perceptions of reality that can diverge from facts. For instance, she said Warr claims his parents aren’t really his parents and that his father is trying to recruit him to the CIA — and that he had to kill his mother before she could detonate a bomb. Easterwood said police told her to stop taking his calls.

“But I feel obligated,” she wrote. “I am elated to hear his voice. I feel obliged to act as an advocate for Tyler.”

She told the court that she has joined support groups organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and heard stories from other fractured families. Warr’s sister, she said, has been particularly devastated by the loss of her mother. And Easterwood lost her other child, Guinivere Renee Isaacson of Waynesboro, to complications from asthma a year before Colvin’s killing.

“Even though he took my daughter’s life, I love Tyler and care about him,” she said. “I know Maddy would want him to get the medical care he needs.”

The effect of Higgins’ March 19 order is that Warr will remain at Central State Hospital under an involuntary commitment, according to retired forensic psychologist Jeffrey Fracher.

“That means they can basically keep him at what we used to call the criminally insane unit,” Fracher told The Daily Progress. “It means they’ve committed him and they can hold him until they deem him no longer a danger, which will probably never happen.”

One thing that Warr has not received is a “not guilty by reason of insanity” verdict, and Fracher said those are extremely hard to get because a standard for conviction is merely knowledge of an act’s wrongness. Fracher’s noted the allegations that Warr had fled the scene.

“Usually with sanity, we say, ‘You run, you’re done,’” said Fracher. “He showed intention, and he showed some understanding of what he’d done.”

When Warr’s case returns two autumns from now, there may be a reassessment of his competency to stand trial, Fracher said. A motion by the assistant commonwealth’s attorney to retain jurisdiction until Nov. 21, 2025, was granted by the judge at the March hearing, so his first-degree murder case remains pending.

“But for now, “said Fracher “he’s just going to sit down in Petersburg.”


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