Abducted from School: Thomas

Better Off behind Bars?

"The Tommy that I know was a wonderful young man, intelligent. To see him the way he is now " it's not him," says Thomas' step-mother, Janet.

"He's acting strangely," says Thomas' father who bears the same name. "He's doing things he wouldn't normally do. Tommy's diagnosis has been bipolar schizophrenic. Tommy's never shown that he would hurt anyone."

"When I heard the news, I was really devastated because I know where I work, we always I.D.," says Janet, who happens to be employed by an after-school program. "So, I said, 'Well, how can this possibly happen?'"

Thomas' father is troubled at the thought that his son could have done such a thing. "I can't imagine how bad Kendall's mother feels about this happening," he says. "Tommy's been in jail about three to four times. They've let him get off with this, get off with this, get off with this. They're waiting for something big, and this is something big."

"My step-son needs help," Janet says. "He doesn't need prison, and I know he did wrong, but he doesn't realize what he's done because his mind is not there."

She continues tearfully, "I'm so afraid for him. We need help. Tommy needs help because he's just not himself right now. He wouldn't hurt anybody. I'm sorry that he took the little girl. I am so sorry about that. That is not my son. That's not him."

Dr. Phil sits down with Janet and Thomas for their first encounter with Kendall's parents. Turning to the Dorseys, he asks, "What did you want to say to this mother and father?"

"Words cannot express my feelings and how sad I am to have this happen to anyone," says the senior Thomas. "Anyone to lose a child " the most precious gift we have is our children. I would like to apologize, but there are no words that can express that either. I've been trying to get my son help for many years. He's been in and out of the system. He's been diagnosed as bipolar schizophrenic. He does things he doesn't know he's doing if he's off his medicine " I asked the prison that just released him not to release him to the public. I asked the prison why they couldn't put him in a mental institution where he'd be safe, the public would be safe."

"He's charged with [abduction], willful harm/injury to a minor and endangering the personal health of a minor, so he's facing very serious charges," says Dr. Phil. He asks Janet if she has anything to say.

"I am so truly sorry," she says. "This incident or [abduction] that Tommy did " " She pauses a minute to contain her emotions, then continues, "He's not in his right mind; honestly he isn't. He would not have done that if he was. Years ago Tommy was not like this. He didn't even look like that. He was a very upstanding young man."

Natasha tells the couple, "There are a lot of people who have mental health issues in the world, but they don't [abduct] children from school. That act was inexcusable." Janet softly voices her agreement.

"We know he was present enough to know her name, walk in, ask for her, walk out, say he was calling her cell phone," says Dr. Phil. "I am as compassionate to those with mental illness as I think anyone can be, but I've got to tell you if someone takes my child, whether it's born from a mental illness or just an evilness in their heart, that child's still missing, and that's the thing that we've got to really think about and talk about."

Dr. Phil notes that the fast work of three members of the police force led to Kendall's rescue. He extends his deepest thanks to Chief Purvis, Officer Avila and Officer Oertel, who issued the Amber Alert, and asks the officers to detail the events of that day.

"Well, when we found out the suspect's name, and his vehicle information from a prior contact that we had with him earlier that day, we put out the Amber Alert immediately," says Chief Purvis, "and once we had that information out we realized that we needed to take the next step, and that was to get the media involved as quickly as possible." The officers released the information that night on the 10:00 news broadcast. "Eleven minutes later we got an anonymous call from a person in our community saying that they believed that they saw the vehicle and the suspect."

Officer Oertel found Thomas parked in a car with Kendall in the back seat. He drew his gun and made the safe rescue of Kendall with no harm to her or Thomas. Dr. Phil asks Officer Oertel, "Did he say anything to you when you arrested him or any of you when you questioned him about what took place in those five hours?"

"You know, we tried to interview him," he says, "and unfortunately he did not want to talk to us."

The Precious Blood School declined to be part of the show but did provide the following statement:

First and foremost, Precious Blood School is thankful to God that Kendall was found safe and returned to her family. Her rescue was the result of outstanding police work and assistance from the local community. This has been a painful reminder for our school that even the most well-designed and stringent safety policies cannot be successful unless they are carried out properly. To our dismay and great regret, our policy to regulate access to students and protect their safety was not followed in this case. Changes in personnel, training and our school facilities are already in place or will be in place shortly to address the lessons we have learned from this incident. I extend our great thanks and empathy to the families of our students who have been understandably concerned but also supportive. I also commend the Dr. Phil show for bringing much-needed attention to the issue of child abduction and measures that schools and families must take to protect their children.

--Ann Peace, Principal, Precious Blood School

"Clearly, they say that they didn't follow their policies," Dr. Phil points out. Turning to Natasha he adds that some of Kendall's regressive behaviors are a clear sign she has been impacted. "Are you going to just monitor and watch her at this point? Do you think she should get professional help at this point?" he asks.

"Definitely, professional help," Natasha says. "That's above what I can help her with."

"We're more than happy to make resources available to you if you would like for us to do that to help with her if you don't have something in place already," says Dr. Phil.