Oregon woman finds stranger sleeping on son’s bed, sparks mental health debate

PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon woman recently found an intruder lying under a pile of clean clothes on her son’s bed, and the incident quickly morphed into a flashpoint for improved community mental health services across the greater Portland area.

>> Read more trending news

Kelsey Smith told KPTV that she left her front door unlocked while contractors working on the home came and went, but her doorbell camera captured footage of a woman unknown to her walking into the house.

According to KATU, one of Smith’s dogs alerted her to the intruder, whom she first mistook for her husband.

The intruder has since been identified as 54-year-old Terri Lynn Zinser, KPTV reported.

Smith said she confronted the woman and demanded she leave the home, at which point Zinser charged her with an ottoman before leaving the residence. The altercation in the child’s room was captured on a separate camera set up for medical reasons, the TV station reported.

According to KATU, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is now investigating the case, which it said highlights an unacceptable lack of community resources amid a desperate and mounting need for mental health services.

Officers with the Portland Police Bureau arrested Zinser down the block from the Smith home shortly after the altercation and charged her with first-degree burglary and harassment. Although she was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center, Zinser was released a short while later by court order, KPTV reported.

In a statement released to KATU, the DA’s office said, in part, that based on recent interactions with Zinser “having similar cases dismissed due to lack of participation in treatment and the court’s inability to compel the defendant to participate in treatment, we had initial concerns about whether we could proceed at this time.”

The office confirmed that Zinser had spent time at the Oregon State Hospital but that she left the treatment facility and previous charges against her had been dismissed, the TV station reported.

Read the full statement below:

“Based on recent federal court rulings and recent history with this defendant having similar cases dismissed due to a lack of participation in treatment and the court’s inability to compel the defendant to participate in treatment, we had initial concerns about whether we could proceed with this case at this time. The lack of mental health resources in our community is unacceptable when coupled with the inability to compel unadjudicated defendants to engage in available treatment options. The current crisis of capacity at the Oregon State Hospital puts the safety of our community, and the most vulnerable persons in our community, at risk. In this particular case, the accused had recently spent months at the Oregon State Hospital during which time the staff there was unable to restore her ability to aid and assist her court appointed lawyer. She was then ordered to engage in treatment in the community, but she did not appear for her evaluation, and she left the treatment facility. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Nan Waller dismissed the previous charges pending against her in early August. Our Strategic Prosecution Unit is reviewing this case and the previously dismissed cases to determine whether we are able to proceed with prosecution. Due to the ongoing process, MCDA will not be making further comments on this case.”