A former Pasco woman convicted of throwing her two toddlers to their deaths off the cable bridge in 1979 is heading back to Grays Harbor County for mental health treatment.
Tanya Adams, 61, was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court on a probation violation.
The Westport woman — recently diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder with psychosis and manic disorder — had been refusing to take her medication and was found living in squalid conditions. She’s been in the Franklin County jail since March 24 awaiting a hearing.
However, attorney Craig Stilwill told the court his client was in no condition to come to court Tuesday. He said he asked corrections officers to leave Adams in her cell.
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“(The prosecutor) and I discussed this case and, frankly, I’m even at a loss as to why (the state Department of Corrections) arrested her and brought her here,” Stilwill told Judge Cameron Mitchell.
Stilwill said Adams shouldn’t even be housed in a jail because she needs specialized care for her mental illness.
Attorneys on both sides agreed the best option for Adams is to have her transferred back to state custody. Then Department of Corrections staff can pick her up in Pasco April 8 and drive her across the state to the facility where she was getting treatment before her March arrest.
Adams is on lifetime probation for the Feb. 5, 1979, crime.
Then 24, Adams became depressed when her marriage fell apart and she didn’t have a job to pay the mounting bills. She believed she and her husband were evil and was afraid their unforgivable sins would condemn the toddlers to hell.
So she dropped her sons, Ryan, 21/2, and Christopher, 11/2, from the bridge into the 38-degree Columbia River. She knew killing them was illegal, but thought it would guarantee the young boys a place in heaven.
Adams pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. The much-publicized case was moved to Seattle for trial.
A jury returned guilty verdicts for the two counts of first-degree murder because they had no other choice under state law, but later wrote letters to Franklin County Judge Al Yencopal asking that Adams be hospitalized and not imprisoned.
Yencopal agreed that Washington’s criminal insanity law needed to be changed, and rejected the prosecution’s recommendation of life in prison. Adams could have been eligible for parole after 131/2 years and then been transferred to a state mental hospital for treatment.
Instead, she was ordered to stay in Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake for two years, to undergo psychiatric treatment for five years after her release and to do volunteer work at a nursing home for another six years.
Adams became the first person in state history to be convicted of two murders and not have to serve a day inside prison walls.
She has spent most of the past three decades on the Olympic Peninsula where she grew up.
Adams reportedly did well on supervision until 2007, when she told a community corrections officer she “was having extreme difficulty coping with life,” court documents show. She entered the psychiatric unit at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center for several weeks.
At that time, the court reminded Adams that a condition of her sentence was her compliance with mental health treatment, including taking prescribed medications.
Then earlier this year, a community corrections officer reported getting numerous phone calls from Adams’ relatives saying her behavior had become increasingly erratic, and that she was a risk to herself and her elderly mother.
Paramedics said Adams’ living conditions “were not acceptable for human habitation.” She was involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation until she could be moved to a psychiatric ward.
Her mental health continued to decline, yet the state probation officer asked the court to issue an arrest warrant so she could be moved to Franklin County for the violations. He recommended she serve a two-month jail sentence.
On Tuesday, Stilwill said he is not sure how long Adams will be in the Grays Harbor facility. He said probation officials had an issue with Adams not taking her medication, and this move should address that concern and hopefully stabilize her so she won’t have to return to Franklin County Superior Court again.