Knoxville mom said system failed her son before Facebook bomb threat arrest

Dale Jeffries (Courtesy: Knox County Sheriff’s Office via WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The mother of a Knoxville man arrested by the FBI for a threatening Facebook post says her son, a veteran, should have gotten better mental health care to help him stay out of this situation.

Dale Jeffries was charged in federal court with making a threat over the internet. The Facebook post received lots of attention on social media. Jeffries wrote he had built a bomb and everyone would die on Thanksgiving.

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Jeffries faced trouble in the past. He was convicted of threatening a judge in a YouTube video in 2011 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Jeffries’ mother, Charlotte Jeffries, said the system failed her son.

“I tried to ask myself what am I thankful for today? And there’s lots of things but when you’re hit hard like this you start to doubt who God is, doubt yourself,” said Charlotte Jeffries.

She flipped through pictures on Thanksgiving day of her son, Dale, wanting to remember him as a UT graduate and an Army veteran. “I still see it underling, he’s very sweet, polite, young man that would do anything for anybody.”

Dale Jeffries’ parents said the trouble he’s facing right now is because he’s sick.

“He’s PTSD, traumatic brain injury and he also could possibly be bipolar,” said his mom.

The family has seen his Facebook post and say there was never a bomb, though it is concerning. They believe Dale Jeffries did it because he’s hurting, lonely and upset about a custody matter with his children.

“He just wants to escape and that’s part of his escape, the blowing up. If he could just get rid of and it’s not Knoxville, it’s not the bomb. If he could just get rid of the illness, get rid of the problems, he’ll be okay,” added Charlotte Jeffries.

They say for the last year and a half they’ve tried over and over to get Dale Jeffries care with a number of Knoxville mental health groups.

“So we’d call the police every time that he got into a fit, that was about twice a week, and the police would come out and we’d call them again. Police would come out and they kept saying ‘We can’t do anything about it,’” said Charlotte Jeffries.

Since the arrest, Charlotte Jeffries is asking why no one would step in.

“He needs to be at the hospital getting mental help,” she said.

She also feels her son won’t be getting the help he needs in jail.

“My love for Dale makes me a fighter and I have not walked away from the problems of Dale Jeffries. I’ve hit them head on and it’s because I love him with all my heart,” she said.

Dale Jeffries had his first appearance on the new charge Wednesday. A public defender was appointed as his attorney and he’s being held until another hearing set for Nov. 29.

In December 2006, Dale Jeffries reached out to WATE 6 On Your Side asking for help. He was still a soldier, home for the holidays, but was kept from seeing his then 10-year-old daughter by a restraining order. His attorney said at the time that the two sides were able to work out a new agreement.