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Public defender tries to murder his kids, their mother with ax, California cops say

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Whether someone has asked you for help or you sense someone is in distress, here are some general guidelines to help support possible victims of abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial.
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Whether someone has asked you for help or you sense someone is in distress, here are some general guidelines to help support possible victims of abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial.

A public defender attacked his kids and their mother with an ax at their Northern California home on Wednesday, leaving the mother with “massive wounds,” Redding police said.

Theodore Loos, 73, was arrested after his children reported the attack to police just before 8 a.m., according to a news release from police on Wednesday afternoon.

His daughter and son were hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center with minor injuries, while their mother was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and was in critical condition Wednesday, police said. The hospital released both children, who are 10 and 14, KHSL reports — but the mother has a fractured skull, went into surgery on Thursday and is still in critical condition.

Loos’ son said the incident at their west Redding home began when he woke up to his father “standing in the doorway of his room holding a splitting maul,” a kind of ax, according to police. He said his father attacked him with the ax and tried hitting him with its blunt side, but the son was able to escape, police said.

The son’s screaming woke up his sister, who went to investigate and discovered her father trying to hit her brother with the splitting maul, police said. The daughter yelled at her father to stop, but he attacked her instead — striking her in the head with the ax’s blunt side, according to police.

That’s when the brother and sister escaped to their mother’s room and discovered her “lying in bed suffering from massive wounds to her head and face,” police said.

The daughter fled to a neighbor’s home to call police when Loos came into the bedroom where the mother was, while her brother remained in the home to disarm their father, who was wielding both an ax and a knife, according to police.

The daughter got on the phone with 911 dispatchers at the neighbor’s house, and told operators that by that point “her father was trying to stab himself,” according to police.

Officers detained Loos at the scene without incident, police said.

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Theodore Loos, 73 Redding Police Department

Police said they interviewed Loos “at length” at the police station following the attack. Both children spoke to police as well.

Loos has been charged with three counts of attempted murder, one count of domestic violence, two counts of injury to a child and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, according to Redding police. He was booked at the Shasta County Jail.

Loos works for the Shasta County Public Defender’s Office, and has been an attorney in the state since the 1970s, according to the California State Bar website. The Public Defender’s Office confirmed Loos worked there on Wednesday, the Redding Record Searchlight reports.

A court appearance for Loos had not been set as of Thursday, the Record Searchlight reports.

“Our hearts are breaking for the family for having to live through this nightmare,” said Angela Jones, director of One SAFE Place, a local group that tackles domestic violence, according to the newspaper. “A violent act such as this affects the community as a whole. It serves as another sad reminder that domestic violence can be lethal and crosses all social, economic, and professional boundaries.”

Neighbors described the Loos family as “a quiet group that keeps to themselves,” KRCR reports.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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