By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Joshua Leroy Vance was a Centralia College student who got straight “A”s last semester and earlier this week he cut his own hand so severely, he was taken to a Seattle trauma hospital to save his fingers.
Vance, 25, is in the Lewis County Jail today, because according to prosecutors, that same night he also cut the throat of his sleeping father and stabbed him at least 11 times.
Joshua Leroy Vance
Terry Vance, 58, was found dead on his bedroom floor early Wednesday morning after family members awoke to screaming.
Joshua Vance, his father and 11-year-old nephew lived together in his grandmother’s Onalaska home.
Family members say he was prone to violent outbursts, his mental health issues so serious, he could not work and collected social security disability payments instead.
His grandmother Bonnie Vance said he’d been off his medication since last weekend.
“Each day he was off of it, I could see him deteriorating and going back to the way he was before,” she said.
“He could be very abusive and erratic,” she said. “And then he would come to and he would be pretty good. For awhile.”
“And then something would happen and … It’s been bad,” she said.
“And when he was good, he was such a good young man,” she said.
Deputies were called about 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday to a mobile home on the 400 block of Pennel Avenue in Onalaksa when Joshua Vance called 911 and said he killed his father.
According to charging documents, his grandmother confronted him in the hallway, he dropped a knife and ran outside.
Eleven-year-old Thomas Flood told deputies he followed, to warn his Uncle Larry Vance who lives in an adjacent travel trailer.
Thomas said he heard Joshua say, “I killed my father and I slit my throat so somebody come help me because I will die in about five seconds,” charging documents state.
The child said he ran back inside and hid.
Both Bonnie and Joshua Vance had reportedly called 911.
When deputies arrived, they had firefighters tend to Joshua Vance’s cut hands.
It was self-inflicted laceration to the fingers on his right hand, according to Lewis County Fire District 1 Chief Mark Conner who treated him.
“He said he did it to make himself stop,” Conner said.
Prosecutors described the injuries as severe and wrote that he cut his hand on the knife while stabbing his father.
When Deputy Matt McKnight videotaped him before he was taken to the hospital to save his fingers, Joshua Vance told him he was going to kill everyone else on the property, but he couldn’t because he cut his hand, according to charging documents.
Charging documents also say his grandmother saw him a few hours earlier, pulling kitchen knives out of their cutting block and checking their sharpness.
Joshua Vance was charged today with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt ordered him held on $1 million bail.
He sat quietly, shackled with a large bandage on his right hand.
Deputy Prosecutor Joely Yeager said the cruel and heinous act showed he was extremely dangerous to the community.
Defense attorney Bob Schroeter said the case showed Joshua Vance has significant documented mental health needs that have not been met.
Bonnie Vance says her grandson has had issues for years.
“His (treatment providers) were in the process of changing his medicine,” she said. “Because of the cost of it; he evidently didn’t have it for a few days.”
The uncle, Larry Vance, was in the courtroom this afternoon, and afterward, said he saw something bad coming as well. But not this.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s like a nightmare I can’t wake up from,” he said.
His biggest question is, why? he said.
Larry Vance commented that just a few days previous he asked his nephew why he wasn’t at school.
“He said he had the flu, it was finals week and he was going to flunk all his classes,” he said.
It was odd, because he got such good grades the previous semester, he said.
Larry Vance said he warned his mother a few days ago, his nephew was “turning into a Hyde again.”
He said his mother and the family have bent over backwards to help his nephew.
Bonnie Vance didn’t talk about herself, in a brief interview yesterday. She spoke of her children and grandchildren.
The 78-year-old raised her family on the block near the school and across from the ball field since about 1970.
Terry Vance and her two younger sons all attended Onalaska schools, as did her grandson, though he also attended Centralia High School too, she said.
Terry Vance played, coached and refereed baseball for years, she said.
“He dearly loved his grandkids, fishing and his games,” she said.
Her two adult sons stayed with her to take care of her, she said. “I had cancer, I’m okay now,” she said.
Joshua Vance was given a court-appointed attorney. His arraignment is scheduled for March 22.
Family friend Cindy Hanson says a group of Onalaskans are getting a work party together, to brighten up Bonnie Vance’s home – do a little renovation like the carpets, and maybe plant a garden, she said.
“Just trying to be supportive,” Hanson said.
Donation can be dropped off at Brenda’s Country Market, she said.
Read “Coroner’s office names Terry Vance as victim in Onalaska home” from Wednesday March 7, 2012 at 7:53 p.m., here