Mother of woman who threatened mosque says daughter was amidst psychotic episode

Posted at 1:04 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 18:22:29-05

KENTWOOD, Mich. — Kari Moss, 33, is charged with a false threat of terrorism after allegedly demanding cash and threatening to blow up a Kentwood mosque Monday, a 20-year felony.

Moss interrupted Judge William Kelly throughout her arraignment for more than 10 minutes Wednesday, which her mother says showcases how mentally ill she is and a cry for help. Moss told Judge Kelly she would represent herself and asked for no bond.

Her mother says Moss was amidst a psychotic episode during the threat and tells FOX 17 she is very concerned with how her daughter slipped through the cracks of the  mental healthcare system.

Charlotte Steigenga spoke with FOX 17 explaining her daughter Moss has been living with her the past seven years, diagnosed with  Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder.

Kari Moss, 33, during her arraignment Wednesday afternoon.

Kari Moss, 33, during her arraignment Wednesday afternoon.

Steigenga says Moss was released prematurely from the hospital two weeks ago and believes Moss was off her medicine, in the midst of a week-long psychotic episode, and possibly suicidal while making threats.

She says Moss wrote an email to the At-Tawheed Islamic Center Sunday, then went there in person Monday, demanding cash and threatening violence or that she would "blow something up."

On Friday Steigenga says she found a book in Moss' bedroom that was about "preparing for your death," then Saturday she called police to try to get Moss further help.

"She’s not a maniac," said Steigenga. "It was an extremely irrational and sick way for wanting some quick cash; just the most ridiculous thing she could have done," explaining Moss' family would have helped her.

Steigenga says though she's very appreciative of all the mental health services her daughter Moss receives, she's utterly frustrated with the system. For instance, especially now that she is no longer her daughter's legal guardian, Steigenga says she cannot get information about Moss' well-being and treatments due to HIPAA.

"It's very frustrating not being able to talk with medical professionals about my daughter," said Steigenga.

She says Moss is a gifted teacher, like her father, and a published poet. Since this August Steigenga says Moss earned her first full-time position: she was teaching English to refugee children and their parents through AmeriCorps in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. However, after four months she could see this was becoming too much on Moss, whose doctors recommended only part-time work.

“When [Moss is] well she’s very high-functioning, which can work against her in the mental health field a little bit: she can deny hearing voices and any other stuff she knows to be unacceptable," said Steigenga.

"Because she’s so high-functioning and well-educated I think her staff doesn’t always understand how sick she is, because it’s very hard for her to take care of her basic necessities of life," her mother added.

Wendy Falb, executive director for the Literacy Center of West Michigan, tells FOX 17 they employed Moss from this August through Dec. 16, when they were surprised at Moss' resignation. Falb says Moss taught English to families at two Grand Rapids public schools, and "from all accounts she did a really fantastic job," saying Moss was "well-prepared, had good engagement with the parents, and had no complaints."