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Mammoth man apprehended at White House

Thursday, December 15, 2005

EIGHTH GRADER: Shawn Cox as he appeared in the 1990. Cox was in the eighth grade at Thayer Junior High when the photo was taken.
WASHINGTON -- A Mammoth Spring man was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service Dec. 4 for scaling and jumping over a fence on the north lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Shawn Cox, 29, was arrested for unlawful entry. Cox appeared briefly Dec. 6 in District of Columbia Superior Court where he was ordered to be hospitalized. He was sent to St. Elizabeth Hospital, a Washington mental institution, for 30 days of evaluation.

According to a preliminary psychological evaluation from the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health, Cox has a history of receiving mental health services in Washington and had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia.

After a 40-minute interview with Dr. Robert Benedetti, a licensed clinical psychologist, Cox appeared grossly psychotic and manic. Benedetti said Cox had pressured and rapid speech and told him his head was a "cell phone" implanted by Jesus. The report said Cox also claimed to be an acquaintance of former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea.

Benedetti said Cox insisted that Chelsea was in the White House as well as President Bush and described how President Clinton had told him that he (Cox) was going to marry his daughter. During the interview, Benedetti said Cox began opening and closing his eyes and moving his eyes back and forth in a bizarre manner. The report concluded Cox was a possible danger to himself and others and that his behavior should be closely monitored.

Cox was screened for drugs and the test came back negative. He was not in possession of any weapon or firearm at the time of the incident.

Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger said he remembered Cox and said his office might have transported Cox to a mental health facility a couple of months ago.

Galen Lambert, clinic supervisor at the North Arkansas Human Services System in Ash Flat, said any service rendered by his office was confidential and he had no comment on the incident.

Shirly Shipp, Cox's mother, who lives south of Mammoth Spring, said she would speak with The South Missourian News concerning her son, if she would get paid. After being told no, she said she had no comment. She did say she thought he was receiving the best care he ever had.

An official with the office of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said the office plans to charge Cox with unlawful entry, but formal charges will be made after the outcome of the mental evaluation.

Thayer Superintendent of Schools Bill Garrison confirmed that Cox attended school in the Thayer School District for a time but did not graduate from Thayer High School. He said because of privacy rights, the records of students cannot be opened to the public.

A retired teacher from Thayer School, who asked not to be identified, said he remembered Cox as a smart boy. He said he could not remember if Cox had exhibited any type of emotional problems.

Cox is scheduled to appear for arraignment in the District of Columbia Superior Court Jan. 6.

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