Nicholas Bendle, who in 2009 randomly murdered a 69-year-old Santa Maria man with a hatchet as the victim was on his morning walk, is set to be released from a state mental hospital and entered into a Ventura board-and-care program, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.
Bendle, 24, was sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in 2011, as the murder was attributed to a rapid onset of previously undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. He was found to be “extremely delusional” at the time, the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement, and was treated with psychiatric drugs until July 2012, when his doctors suggested he stop taking his medication. In January 2014, hospital officials declared that Bendle had fully recovered from his mental illness, and his treatment team unanimously agreed he be released.
Via the District Attorney’s Office, one of Bendle’s physicians stated that the 24-year-old “shows no symptomatology at all in conversation and could easily be mistaken for staff if he were not wearing the khaki uniform of a patient.” One of his psychiatrists, who supervisors approximately 50 patients, concurred and deemed him stable for release.
If Bendle demonstrates any issues in the board-and-care program, he would be readmitted to Patton, the District Attorney’s Office said. While at the Ventura County facility, Bendle will be closely monitored by the state’s Department of Mental Health, officials said.