Grandmother says grandson's death could have been prevented

St. Petersburg, Florida -- A grandmother believes her grandson's tragic death could have been prevented.

Carolyn Trotter said she watched her mentally ill daughter, 40-year-old Tasha Trotter, stab her 4-year-old grandson to death.

St. Petersburg police said her grandson, Joseph Artis, also known to family members as "Turtle" because he used to poke his head up and look around the room like a turtle when he as a baby, died in a local hospital after police tried to perform CPR on him at Carolyn's home after the stabbing.

Carolyn said she tried to stop her daughter that night. She also said she had been trying to help her daughter get the treatment she needed before it was too late.

"She was crazy about him too, but her mind all twisted all up there," said Carolyn Trotter. "So she just took that knife, and for some reason that I don't know if we will ever find out, she just took that knife to him."

It happened at 6:00 p.m. Friday in Carolyn's home in the Jordon Park apartment complex at 2427 13th Ave. South St. Petersburg.

"She just lost it," said Trotter.

Carolyn cared for Artis since he was six months old. She said Tasha had been off her medication for over a year. Carolyn struggled to get her the help she needed but privacy laws stopped her.

"I personally believe she was bipolar, schizophrenic, manic depressive; she is probably all those things," said Trotter. "It's mind boggling. I know she wasn't in her right mind for what she was doing. She needed mental help bad. She was not getting that. I would try to go to see her doctors and they would not let me know what was happening with her. Tasha was telling them she was fine when she was not fine and the doctors need to hear from her family, me or her brother. Otherwise, how will she ever get the right help?"

St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton has not left Carolyn's side since Friday night. He is supporting her wishes for more local mental health services.

"Helping the mentally ill is crucial and it needs to be done," said Newton. "We need more administrative services to make sure people get what they need to stay healthy. There are a lot of people suffering from mental illness and unfortunately this tragic event -- you didn't even see it coming."

He said he will use Carolyn's story as an example going forward to show how tragedies like losing young Artis could have possibly been prevented if there were more local services for the mentally ill.

Tasha Trotter has been charged with first degree murder. A judge denied bail for her.

Funeral services have not been scheduled for Artis. We will have provide those when we have the information from his family.


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