Barbara McNally described her husband as a fun-loving father at the statue dedication Sunday.
Barbara McNally’s life forever changed the day her husband was shot with an assault rifle.
The bullets were fired quickly as James McNally was leaving his Bartlett home — and the stay-at-home dad was killed instantly. The family wasn’t prepared to pick up the pieces.
“We had to start over — I couldn’t even function in the beginning,” Barbara McNally said. “This new life was not the one we wanted, but we had to make the best of it.”
A permanent reminder
One year later, McNally and her three children joined with neighbors and longtime friends to dedicate a statue to their own family man.
The ceremony was held at Oak Grove Park Sunday, just around the corner from the family’s home in the Pond View subdivision. The family selected the park because of James McNally’s love of the water and the children’s fond memories of fishing at the lake with their father.
The statue the family selected is a bronze sculpture of a man and his three children. It is titled “The Family Man.”
“This was such a tragedy for us,” she said. “We didn’t have him buried because I’m not much of a cemetery person, and I wanted something positive for people to enjoy when they walked by.”After getting permission from the Bartlett Park District, Barbara McNally began to look for a statue to represent her husband.
“I found one with a picture of a boy with a sailboat, but the kids poo-pooed it,” she said.
Barbara McNally kept searching and finally came across the one that fit. But the statue was out of stock, and would take three to four months to arrive, months after the one-year anniversary of Jim’s death.
Soon fate stepped in when the salesman found a statue at the back of the warehouse — one that hadn’t made it into the computer inventory. Some claimed it a miracle, said James McNally’s cousin, Loann Poll.
“I can’t help but wonder who helped them find that statue,” Poll said. “It’s proof Jim is a part of this celebration.”
Remembering a loved one
Poll, along with Morgan McNally, spoke at the dedication, sharing stories about when her father saved her younger brother from choking and the time when he put out a small fire in the bathroom.
“Dad was more than just a person to us, he was a hero, as well,” Morgan said.
But the McNally family will always remember the day their hero was taken away.
James McNally had been driving away from his home in downtown Bartlett one afternoon last September when he was gunned down by a man in an oncoming vehicle. Police were able to track the van down to Jim Masino, a 43-year-old Arlington Heights man — who had been friends with McNally back in high school.
Masino was charged with the murder of his former friend and has pleaded not guilty in a Cook County Circuit Court, despite a videotaped confession, police said. Today Masino remains at an Elgin mental health center to undergo treatment, after he was determined unfit to stand trial.
In his book, “The Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law,” Paul Appelbaum, also a professor at Columbia University, said the factors that determine if a criminal defendant is competent to stand trial are complicated.
“They must understand the nature and purpose of court proceedings and have the ability to assist council in his own defense,” he said.
A psychologist will administer a series of questions to piece together whether they can comprehend the reality they are facing, and how well they will cooperate with an attorney, he said. A mental disorder may interfere with court proceedings. But most patients are able to eventually stand trial once they are given treatment, Appelbaum said.
Barbara McNally said the only days she thinks of Masino is when she attends his court dates, where it is determined whether he is capable to stand trial.
With no one there to fix things around the home or watch the children when she travels on business, McNally has struggled to adapt.
Knowing she doesn’t ask for help often, she asked for a favor — a wish her husband would have if he was there that day.
“He would like to ask you, the people of this town, to be my eyes and ears when I’m not around to help us raise our kids,” she said.
|Barbara McNally’s husband, Jim, was killed by a former family friend who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.|
Barbara McNally’s husband, Jim, was killed by a former family friend who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Daniel White | Staff Photographer In the 15 months since her husband’s killer was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Barbara McNally has feared two things: That James Masino would escape from the Elgin Mental Health Center and that he would somehow make his way to her family’s Bartlett home, located about 10 miles and one train stop from Elgin. On Sept. 19, a killer escaped from the Elgin facility and was picked up several hours later in Bartlett. It wasn’t Masino. The escapee was a Chicago man named Maikobi Burks, found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1993 murders of his parents and sister. McNally said the incident justified her concerns and confirmed her fears: that an EMHC resident acquitted of a violent crime by reason of insanity could escape and potentially pose a threat to the community. “It’s not about placing blame. It’s about what we can do to prevent this,” said McNally, who also said she’s heard unofficially that Masino had been transferred from Elgin’s medium security facility to the maximum security facility in downstate Chester. State officials decline to discuss specific residents of such facilities and declined to say where Masino was being housed. Bartlett Police Chief Dan Palmer echoed her concerns. Palmer, who confirmed Burks’ identity, worries for the safety of his residents and his officers who might unknowingly confront an escaped patient who may be unstable or violent. He said that’s why prompt police notification of any escapes or “walkaways” is crucial. However, Palmer said Bartlett police were not immediately notified of the Elgin walkaway, which was discovered at 8:22 a.m. Sept. 19 after mental health center staff members noticed a patient missing, along with a key. “The patient escaped at night when staffing is limited,” said Tom Green, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Human Services who responded to Daily Herald inquiries via e-mail. An internal investigation determined the individual left the facility about 4 a.m., said Green, who declined to name the person, citing patient confidentiality. The patient “acquired a key from the nurse’s station that had not been returned to its secure location,” said Green, whose agency refers to such incidences as “elopement events.” Burks was assigned to the Elgin facility’s forensic unit, which provides court-ordered treatment in a secure setting for people found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. In the 10 years since the unit moved to its new building, there have been a total of three escapes, including this one, Green said. The latest incident prompted several changes, he said. Before the incident, security, therapy aides and nurses could open unit exit doors. Now only security officers can open those doors, Green said. Before the incident, staff used two sets of keys, Green said. “One was in a locked box in the medication room. The other key was left in an unlocked box on the counter in the nursing station for the staff to use,” he said. “Since the incident, there is only the key in the locked, wall-mounted box in the medication room,” Green said. That box “is outfitted with a new tamper-proof, audio alarm.” A buzzer on the unit exit door sounds when the door is opened, and the center has installed new photosensitive lights in the courtyard, Green said. Locks on the exit doors have been replaced with new ones requiring two different keys to open. The nurse’s station has been modified so that staff members can better observe the patients. Security officers have increased checks, and staff members will undergo additional training. The individual who escaped was captured and returned to the unit, Green said. He has since been transferred to another mental health facility. Burks has been allowed to leave the Elgin center before. He requested, and the court granted him, unsupervised, off-ground privileges in August 2007. The court denied a November 2008 petition for his conditional release. On June 15 of this year, Burks petitioned the court for a transfer to a nonsecure setting, but that request was withdrawn Sept. 29, 10 days after the Elgin escape. When a patient escapes, security immediately notifies Elgin police, Green said. Elgin alerts local police departments and the Illinois State Police, who then alert agencies statewide through two different notification systems. Palmer said his department knew nothing about Burks until a village resident called about a suspicious person. Officers found Burks wandering in a private yard on the village’s west side. He appeared to be lost, Palmer said. Because nothing indicated he had committed a crime, the officers had no reason to arrest him. Burks asked to leave, saying he wanted to take the train, and police drove him to the Bartlett station, Palmer said. After learning of the escape, officers returned to the station and took Burks into custody, Palmer said. “In my estimation, (the escape) probably shouldn’t have occurred as easily as it did,” Palmer said. “We’ve had a lot of questions, and we’re waiting on some answers. We’re hopeful they will come soon. I think (Elgin officials) understand how serious it was.” Notification was an issue, said state Rep. Randy Ramey, whose 55th District encompasses portions of Bartlett, Hanover Park, St. Charles, South Elgin and Wayne. “There was a breakdown,” Ramey said. “There is an ongoing investigation into how that went down. They’re looking to tighten up that security issue.” Elgin Mayor Ed Schock said he feels the mental health center has appropriate safeguards to protect the community. “The instances are so rare of someone escaping that one would have to conclude that the security is pretty good,” he said. McNally remains unconvinced. The Illinois Department of Human Services determines where patients subject to court-ordered treatment are assigned. Masino – whose fixation with McNally’s husband, Jim, led to the murder of the stay-at-home dad described as “everybody’s friend” – was assigned to Elgin. That was too close for comfort for McNally, who fears if Masino is ever released or if he escapes, he might pose a threat to her children. She initially requested he be treated at Chester, hundreds of miles away from her family. State officials disagreed and reportedly sent him to Elgin. Burks’ escape has McNally renewing her efforts to make sure such killers are not placed at a facility located only a few miles from the families they victimized. McNally had previously pushed for a law allowing victims and family members to read victim impact statements at commitment hearings for defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill, which McNally dubbed “Jimmy’s Voice,” into law in August. Ramey co-sponsored that proposal with Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, and they plan to introduce the second bill in January. Currently, DHS decides placement based on the defendant’s medical needs and the proximity of the facility to the defendant’s family, Ramey said. A new law would also take into account the proximity of the victim and his or her family to the defendant’s treatment center. “We need to be cognizant of the victims,” Ramey said. “We are enhancing the law so they have that voice.”