WASECA, Minn. – The teen arrested nearly two years ago for planning a massacre at his school will be taken to a state-operated facility and will not be going to live at home after he is released from jail Thursday, his attorney said.
That development came just hours before John LaDue, 19, was set to walk out of jail to stay temporarily at the Waseca home where he grew up.
LaDue was set to return home Thursday to live with his parents until officials found a bed for him at a state-run evaluation facility as part of a plea deal in which he agreed to serve 10 years’ probation and undergo treatment. He was taken from the jail Thursday in a white SUV at 1:30 p.m.
As of Thursday, the teen will have served a full incarceration sentence for a felony count of possessing an explosive device, and can no longer be held behind bars.
Officials were scrambling over the past couple of weeks to find an appropriate placement for him after their original plan to send him to a Georgia treatment facility fell through for bureaucratic reasons.
With no state beds immediately available, a judge and attorneys agreed LaDue would be sent home on probation until a space could be found — a plan that had put some people in this southern Minnesota community on edge.
Judge Joseph Chase tried to speed up the state placement process, ordering this week that the state Department of Human Services immediately provide a bed for LaDue upon his release.
Department officials met with the judge and others in a closed meeting Wednesday afternoon in Rochester.
One of LaDue’s attorneys, Third District Chief Public Defender Jeff Johnson, said Wednesday night that officials found a bed for LaDue, but declined to give details or say where he will be placed. Judge Chase is expected to issue an order soon, Johnson said.
LaDue’s father, David LaDue, said he was notified of the placement late Wednesday, but was not told of the details.
Days earlier, he had said he and his wife were excited at the prospect of their son returning home and that he thought it would be good for him to get a break from the system before he continues with therapy.
On Wednesday, it still seemed as if that might happen. Department of Corrections and sheriff’s officials inspected the family’s house in preparation for his arrival, making sure Internet devices and potential weapons, including some tools, were removed. The teen was going to have to stay in the house, leaving only for approved appointments.
With his sentence behind bars finished, John LaDue could legally forgo probation, officials said. But if he complies with the probation he agreed upon, a misdemeanor will be put on his record instead of a felony. Officials said he is choosing to undergo treatment and probation.
His case drew national attention after police found him in a Waseca storage locker in April 2014 when a citizen saw him enter it suspiciously. He told authorities of his plans to shoot his family, set a fire to distract emergency officials, and go to school with pressure-cooker bombs and guns to kill as many people as he could.
Authorities who searched the locker and the boy’s bedroom confiscated chemicals, several guns, ammunition and a few completed explosives. Officers concluded that he intended to carry out the massacre within a week or two.
He has since been diagnosed with an unusual combination of autism spectrum disorder and a fixation on violence.