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Officials in Warren say their hands are tied when it comes to a woman with a history of mental illness who attacks without warning, and they are worried that someone may get seriously hurt before she gets the help she needs.
Warren City Prosecutor Traci Timko-Rose said Stefanie Romeo, 31, is a community concern.
“Every time we turn somebody loose from the county jail knowing they are not in a real stable position, it’s very scary,” Rose said.
Romeo has been arrested more than 20 times in the past 10 years. Charges include robbery, criminal trespassing, drug paraphernalia, assault, menacing and disorderly conduct.
The most recent incident happened over the weekend at a Pine Avenue gas station, where police said Romeo threw hot coffee in an employee’s face.
She is currently being held in the Trumbull County Jail without bond.
In December of 2012, Romeo went into the Trumbull County Job and Family Services building, where she attacked a female security guard, according to reports. When sheriff deputies showed up to respond, she began spitting on them.
Rose said jail is not the answer and the state hospital is only a short term fix. Warren officials have tried both.
“But those cases tend to progress and they get worse. And they are unpredictable. We can see the writing’s on the wall for something terrible to happen, but until that something terrible happens, the criminal justice system isn’t the place for them to be. We can’t fix them,” Rose said.
State Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, believes there should be a place for those with severe mental problems.
“So I would think we need to take some of those prison dollars and start building a campus where we can deal with on a very straight-up kind of basis with people that have a different mental capacity like you and I enjoy,” Letson said.
Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas Swift believes it’s a medication issue and is hoping the legislature will pass one of two bills aimed at enforcing treatment plans once released from the hospital.