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DAD SAYS MAN IN CLINIC CASE HAD A HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLS

SHARE DAD SAYS MAN IN CLINIC CASE HAD A HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLS

The father of the man accused of killing two abortion clinic workers said he thought his son would "grow out" of the bizarre behavior he started showing in his senior year in high school.

And he told jurors he now regrets not seeking help for John Salvi III, who began to speak of watching people turn into vampires and seeing evil bird-like creatures."I wish I had . . . I have no excuse . . . I thought maybe he'd grow out of it somehow," John Salvi Jr. testified Wednesday. "Maybe it was a phase."

Salvi's father was a key witness for the defense, which admits the younger Salvi was the gunman who killed two workers and wounded five others at two suburban Boston abortion clinics in December 1994 but insists he was insane.

Prosecutors implied the father would say anything to protect his son.

If convicted of murder, the 23-year-old Salvi faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. If acquitted by reason of insanity, he will be confined to a mental hospital, but could be released if authorities later conclude he is sane.

Testimony was to resume Thursday.

The elder Salvi described how his son's normal childhood took a turn in his senior year in high school, when he withdrew into Bible reading and later spoke of seeing a girlfriend turn into a vampire.

Friends and acquaintances stopped coming to the house. But Salvi's father took no action, figuring, "If you're going to be a fanatic about something, religion isn't a bad thing to be a fanatic about."

In June 1993, Salvi's parents visited him at an apartment he'd moved into - and found him unwashed and living in rooms infested with maggots.

"St. John the Baptist never bathed," Salvi said his son told them. "He lived in the desert and ate grasshoppers and he was one of the finest men who ever lived."

Under cross-examination, the senior Salvi admitted that he told the FBI his son had never had anything more lethal than a BB gun, even though his son owned a .22-caliber Ruger rifle.