GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — An uncle of a 6-year-old autistic boy found dead after his mother told police she threw him from a bridge on the Oregon coast says the woman had been under intense emotional distress for years while caring for the child and more recently for her disabled husband.
Andy McCabe said Wednesday that Jillian McCabe seemed better after completing 30 days of in-patient psychiatric care last winter. "We had seen her through some really bad times, and she seemed good, which is the hardest part," he said.
The time of her release was about the time she posted cheery videos on YouTube, showing her son, London, swinging in a hammock, engrossed in an iPad; playfully competing with his father to raise and lower his hospital bed; and holding a toy stuffed lion while throwing coins into a fountain to make a wish.
The body of London McCabe was found Monday hours after his mother phoned 911 and said she had thrown him from the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.
She is being held without bail and has not entered pleas to charges of aggravated murder, murder and manslaughter. Her court-appointed defense lawyers have not returned calls asking for comment.
London started showing symptoms of autism at 2 ½ or 3 years of age.
"It's a heart-breaking transition," Andy McCabe said. "He just started fading away. At that point, we lost the child we knew and had to get to know the new London, and everything good and bad that came with that."
Andy McCabe said the family struggled financially after his brother, Matt McCabe, suddenly became disabled in summer 2013, needing treatment and therapy for multiple sclerosis and a mass on his brainstem. He could not walk or type. He could no longer work at his business, putting on email campaigns.
Andy McCabe confirmed that Jillian McCabe had written an appeal on YouCaring.com, a crowdfunding website, in which she described struggling to care for her autistic son and her husband. The appeal ended eight months ago after she raised $6,831 toward a goal of $50,000.
The Oregon Department of Human Services had no record of the family contacting the agency for help, spokesman Gene Evans said.
The McCabes eventually were able to qualify for disability payments and help for London from the Social Security Administration, but they still struggled financially, Andy McCabe said. They had to move out of their apartment in Hood River, where the landlord let them stay four months rent-free, and in with Matt McCabe's parents in Seal Rock, south of Newport.
London enrolled in kindergarten at the start of the school year at Crestview Heights School in Waldport, where Principal Kelly Beaudry said he would be remembered as a student who was "just full of joy and laughter." The school would create a wall of remembrance where his work would be displayed, and teachers could bring students to talk about their feelings.
Andy McCabe said his family deeply appreciated the support shown by people who had covered the Yaquina Bay Bridge with balloons, toys, stuffed animals and floppy hats like the one his nephew loved to wear as a memorial to London.
He described the boy as a sweet child who loved jumping on a trampoline, wearing floppy hats, and leading people around by the hand.
"He couldn't communicate," he said. "That was his way of saying, 'Play with me.' "