Anchorage man murdered mother days after release from psychiatric hold, charges say

an anchorage police car is parked in a parking lot
An Anchorage Police patrol vehicle. (Hannah Lies/Alaska Public Media)

An Anchorage man is charged with killing his mother early Oct. 10, about a week after he was detained, evaluated at the state psychiatric hospital and apparently released, according to charging documents.

Thomas Layou, 38, had known mental health issues, owned guns and had been seen fighting with his mother, Patrice Layou, in the days leading up to her death, the charges say.

The sound of gunshots about 3 a.m. that Sunday brought police officers to Anchorage’s U-Med neighborhood, where they found Patrice Layou, 65, lying dead near her Subaru. Detectives soon learned that she had a son who matched a witness’s suspect description, and he lived a few hundred feet away, on Happy Lane, the charges say.

The detectives found Thomas Layou at home and brought him in for questioning. They also noticed an alert about Layou in a statewide law enforcement database, according to the charges.

The alert was from Oct. 2, about a week earlier, and was related to Layou approaching Transportation Security Administration officers at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the charges say.

“Thomas made contact with TSA and inquired if he could fly with a firearm on his person, and Thomas pointed to his waistband like he had a firearm,” the charges say.

Airport police officers arrived, and after Layou told them he was scared, they took him into custody for a psychiatric evaluation at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, according to the charges.

It’s unclear whether Layou was held at API, the state’s only psychiatric hospital, or for how long. On Thursday, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees API, did not answer questions about Layou, citing medical privacy laws.

Layou’s stepfather, in an interview with detectives, said Layou had suffered from mental illness for years and stopped taking his medication about a month before the shooting. The stepfather said he’d heard Layou on the phone with his mother recently, violently yelling at her, the charges say.

The stepfather also told them Layou owned a rifle and a handgun, according to the charges.

In Layou’s Happy Lane apartment, the detectives found a .357-caliber revolver with five spent shell casings inside and blood on it and a wall near the shower, the charges say.

Layou was being held in jail Thursday on $200,000 bail.

CorrectionAn earlier version of this story misstated the date of the statewide law enforcement database alert, which was Oct. 2, and the date of the alleged shooting, which was Oct. 10.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org.

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