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'I was hoping this day would never happen': Double murder suspect's mother describes attempts to protect community from her son

Posted September 10, 2020 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2020 4:16 p.m. EDT

Janet Allen calls it her worst nightmare: Her son is charged with the murder of two people.

"Whether or not he did everything they are saying, I don't know. I want to know the truth as much as anyone else, but in my heart, he is capable," she said.

Nicholas Nanes, 29, was served arrest warrants on Wednesday for the Aug. 7 killing of Bobby Lucas, 56, in Raleigh and the Aug. 27 killing of Selvaraju Vellingiri, 55, in Cary.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how remorseful we feel toward the family – families now,” said Allen.

Janet Allen said Nanes had his first psychotic break at 19.

"Nick has had schizophrenia for 11 years," she said. "He has been in and out of the hospital, in and out of jail, involuntary commitments, court-ordered commitments."

Allen explained Nanes has severe mental illness, with negative symptoms. In 2017, Nanes killed his dog.

"God told him to kill somebody and he said, ‘God, I don't have a gun. Will an animal do?' He came to our house and he took the dog and killed the dog," Allen recounted.

Four months ago, Nanes was released from prison. While he was in there, Allen was in contact with the prison staff psychology team checking on his medication, treatment and demeanor.

Before his release, a Craven Correctional Institute nurse gave her a warning about him returning home.

"She told me, 'Ma'am, I would not let him come home.’ I say, ‘Are you telling me because you are reading something in his file that is disturbing and may be threatening to myself or my family?' And she said, 'Yes ma'am. Do not let him come in your house,'" recounted Allen.

Allen said before he was released, she tried calling shelters and programs who could take him.

"There is no way we could let him come back into our home. We feared for our safety, so much so, we applied for a concealed carry class and took it," she said. "We knew we needed a weapon in the house to protect ourselves from our son."

After his release, Allen tried to help him by renting him a hotel room for a couple of weeks.

“I reminded him again to do well, to go to work, to take his medication, to follow the rules,” Allen described.

Allen has financial guardianship over Nanes, so she can know about his medical records and oversee his money. She said Nanes went to his bank and withdrew $1,000 from their custodial account on Aug 1.

She saw a picture of Nanes on Facebook holding a gun on Aug. 3. When she asked Nanes if he had a gun and what he did with the money he admitted to a tattoo and hooker but denied having a gun, she said. She then called Cary Police who told her to contact Nanes' parole officer. His parole officer told Allen she could not find a gun where he was staying.

"I was asking the Cary police officer when it was okay to shoot my son," recounted Allen, adding she visited her son to look for the gun herself at one point.

Though Allen tried time and again to get Nanes help, ultimately, she said he was repeatedly returned to the streets.

"He is very smart, very manipulative. He knows what to say," she added," Severely mentally ill people may need some of their rights taken away, and I am speaking of my son."

When Cary police arrived at her home looking for her son in their murder investigation, she told them where to find him.

"I feel a huge responsibility and extremely mournful," said Allen. "I was hoping this day would never happen, it was my worst nightmare, but I knew in my heart he was capable."

Allen said the mental health system failed not only Nanes, but the community.

“We were doing everything we could to keep ourselves safe, to keep our community safe. Even though we tried to do everything in our power and everything we knew to do – I still feel like we failed. I feel like our town failed, and I feel like our criminal justice failed,” said Allen. “This could have been prevented, and I want desperately for this not to happen to any other family.”

Nanes had his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.

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