John Hinckley Jr has been held at a psychiatric hospital for over 30 years as a result of his attempted assassination of the then president Ronald Reagan and the shooting of three others outside the Washington Hilton hotel in 1981.
Latterly he has been living in a room at St Elizabeths Hospital (a psychiatric hospital) in Washington. At 8:30 am he goes out to feed his feral cats who are part of a colony of 24. He has been doing this for many years. It is part of his daily life and a routine which he no doubt very much likes. It is good and interesting that the hospital leaves the cats alone. Some places might try to get rid of the cats. They must see their benefit to patients.
He likes his cat so much that he takes one of them with him when he visits his mother in Williamsburg Virginia. Yes, he has been free to make regular trips to stay with his mother. This occurs for two weeks each month.
I have to conclude that feral cats have helped him in his rehabilitation. You may remember he was found not guilty on the grounds of his insanity. He was cleared of 13 charges. At the time he was 25 years of age. He is now 61.
His mother, Jo Ann Hinckley appears to be living off the family’s oil fortune. She pays for a limousine to pick him up from Washington to bring him to Williamsburg Virginia at a cost of $5,000 to $10,000 for each monthly visit. I presume that Mr Hinckley brings a cat with him in the limousine.
Jo Ann is not crazy about cats but John is. She doesn’t like cats in the house but nonetheless John can’t help himself and brings one along when he stays with her.
John said to his psychiatrist:
“They love me. They come up to me, get my rub. I pet them all the time.”
Apparently, on one occasion when he brought a cat with him in late 2014, it was the first time that this particular cat had come with him. Unsurprisingly the cat didn’t like to be in the house cooped up so at night she yelled incessantly and John couldn’t sleep. He let her out and she sprinted away towards the woods. She failed to come home in the evening or the next day.
John enjoyed his usual pleasant pastimes with his mother during his two-week stay which includes a daily walk around the neighbourhood. On the day of John’s return to St Elizabeth’s he went outside and on the doorstep was his beloved feral cat. I have to presume too by the way that these cats which he loves so much are not strictly feral but perhaps semi-feral because clearly there is some domestication. The cat which had returned was eating a meal which he had set out to try and entice her back. It had worked.
He said to his treatment team in a post-visit interview with them:
“I’m so glad she came back and was safe. I didn’t let her out of the house again.”
Cats, whether they are feral or domestic can be great therapy for all sorts of people. There are therapy cats who are taken to hospitals where they brighten up the lives of patients. And there are therapy cats who are taken to nursing homes where they brighten up the lives of the elderly and sick. In this example, John Hinckley Jr enjoyed a tremendous amount of pleasure from caring for a colony of feral cats and I feel sure that what he was doing not only looked good to the people who are managing him and deciding whether he is free to be released, but also good for his state of mind.
A federal judge has ruled that John Hinckley Jr should be released soon.
- Note: The hospital’s name is missing an apostrophe because that is the way the hospital spells their name. I think it should be “St Elizabeth’s”.