9 Investigates: Could these tragedies have been prevented?

Updated:

James Jones

Police say James Jones used an aluminum baseball bat to attack and kill his girlfriend Shannon Ratliff, her brother Eddie and her mother, Mavis, earlier this month in Tavares.

The attacks occurred at the Colonial Pines Apartments on Hibiscus Court. Police spotted Jones in a bloody shirt with the bat before he ran off.

Authorities later found 32-year-old Jones floating in Lake Dora near the scene of the attacks. They suspect he killed himself.

Jones had been evaluated several times under Florida’s Baker Act before the attacks occurred on the evening of July 14. His father told police he was schizophrenic and off of his medication before the attacks.

The Baker Act forces anyone who appears to be a threat to themselves or others in the community to remain in custody for 72 hours for a mental health evaluation to see if they would benefit from treatment.

 

Sujatha Guduru

Sujatha Guduru, the Oviedo mother accused of fatally shooting her 17-year-old daughter, is still awaiting trial in that case, while undergoing mental health treatment at a state hospital. Investigators say the mother shot and killed Chetna Guduru in January. She also tried to kill herself, they said.

Since then Sujatha Guduru has pleaded not guilty and her attorney said she was legally insane at the time of the shooting.

Sujatha Guduru had a history of mental illness prior to her daughter’s shooting. Detectives also said she had sent her brother a message indicating she would kill herself and her daughter, so that the teenagers would not be alone.

Sujatha Guduru had been seeing a psychiatrist and was hospitalized for post-traumatic stress. Her mental illness may have been exacerbated after she witnessed a Brinks guard get shot and killed years ago during a robbery in Houston.

In June, a judge in Seminole County determined she was mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered her to a state mental hospital. If her condition improves, she will be brought back to court to stand trial.

Guduru’s defense expects to use her prior Baker Act case and mental health history in her defense in the murder case involving her daughter.

 

David Smith

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said David Smith, 27, shot and killed three people – his sister and two others – inside a Lakeland home during the Memorial Day weekend in May.

Smith was later found dead of an apparent, self-inflicted gunshot wound after a standoff with law enforcement officers in Knoxville, Tenn.

Smith’s victims were later identified as Danyala Smith; her partner, Miranda Mims, 28; and their friend Ni’Kosi Williams, 25. Danyala Smith’s 14-year-old daughter found the victims, Polk County authorities said at the time.

A manhunt for Smith began in Tennessee and authorities located David Smith in Knoxville, where his former girlfriend allegedly lives.

According to investigators with the Knox County Sheriff's Department, David Smith called 911 and said he wanted to commit "suicide by cop."

Investigators said while the SWAT team and deputies were negotiating with David Smith at the Days Inn where he was holed up he fired two shots from the window of his room.

About an hour after negotiators lost contact with David Smith, SWAT members gassed his room and found him suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators said.

David Smith spent time in a mental hospital in the past after Lakeland police sent him there using the Baker Act.