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Slain commissioner's wife addresses mental health after Tulsa DA stabbing

Posted at 8:00 PM, Sep 30, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY — A day after Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler was allegedly stabbed by his daughter, he expressed the need for state legislators to govern mental health laws and provide more funding to them.

He also brought up former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner, Mark Costello, and how he was stabbed to death by his son in 2015. 2 News Oklahoma sat down with Cathy Costello, Mark's widow, and asked her what she believes needs to be done to curb the crisis.

“Hearing what happened was almost like re-living my own tragedy again," Costello said.

Costello says she’ll always have an empty place in her heart. In 2015, her son, Christian, stabbed to death her husband, Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello outside an Oklahoma City Braum’s restaurant.

Costello says she has not seen Christian since the day he took her husband's life.

Costello says Christian had a long history of manic episodes and was repeatedly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Instead of going to prison, he was sent to the state mental hospital in Vinita, where he’ll likely spend the rest of his life.

Kunzweiler spoke passionately Wednesday after police say his daughter, Jennifer, stabbed him multiple times in his home. Kunzweiler also talked about Costello’s death as an example that more needs to be done to address mental health in Oklahoma.

“That was this state’s very first public warning that our laws governing the mentally ill and the funding necessary to treat them while also protecting the public was in peril," he said.

Costello agrees there should be more government funding.

“I do think we need more funding, but the question is, for what," Costello said. "I think one of the biggest things that’s a roadblock and that we’re missing here in Oklahoma is that we have no long-term mental health care facilities.”

As Kunzweiler said, Costello agrees more mental health education is needed. She explained that mental illness is a brain disorder, like an elderly person getting Alzheimer’s.

"We step in and make sure they are in a facility, like memory care or assisted living. We take care of them because their brain disorder prevents them from taking care of themselves. Families need to step in and the state and the laws need to allow us to step in," Costello said.

Nowadays, Costello spends most of her time educating Oklahomans and advocating about mental illness, knowing Kunzweiler’s daughter, Jennifer, and her son, Christian, are far from the only ones suffering.

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