Joan Becker's New Memoir Paints Picture of Mental Illness and Murder

May 12, 2015

In 2009, Mark Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg head football coach Ed Thomas during a schizophrenic break. He is now serving a life sentence for first degree murder.

Mark believed that he was working for the government and had orders to kill Ed Thomas, as well as Dave and myself. He thought it was helping the community.

His mother, Joan Becker, writes about her son and her family’s struggle with his mental health in her new memoir Sentenced to Life: The Mark Becker Story.

Joan remembers when she first started noticing changes in Mark’s behavior.

“What we saw was a young man who had been a leader in his class start to withdraw. We attributed that to his use of marijuana,” she says. “He told us he was trying to quiet the noise. We did not attribute this to any sort of mental illness in his life. Now looking back, we can see those indicators, but kids go through rebellious behavior.”

During this River to River interview, she talks with host Ben Kieffer. She says Mark’s unusual behavior, symptoms of his illness, escalated when he went off to college.

“Within a few months we started receiving phone calls in the middle of the night. He was extremely down and was very confused. He would call in the middle of the night asking for help. It was very unrealistic what he was asking.”