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Man charged in elderly Taft man's death, deputies say

David Buchan, 53, has history of mental health issues

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County man who was being held on a psychiatric hold after an elderly man was found stabbed to death inside his home in Taft has been charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday.

David Buchan, 53, was released from the Baker Act and was questioned by investigators at the Orange County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday afternoon, deputies said. He was charged with first-degree murder and will be booked into jail. 

No other details were immediately available.

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News 6 was looking into how the person of interest was able to go unmonitored on the streets after being found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity in the 2007 stabbing of his own mother.

Buchan was ordered to outpatient therapy, according to court documents, after being released.

Julian Gresham, 81, was found stabbed to death just before 10 p.m. Saturday after a wellness check.

Buchan is believed to have been dating the victim's daughter, Tessie Gresham.

"You don't hear about these cases very often. When they happen though, the problem is that the court system and mental health system is not really designed to deal with these situations," said legal expert Steven Kramer.

Court records show Buchan was arrested in 2007 for attempted murder for stabbing his mother. The charge later turned to murder.

Kramer said because of Florida's strict standard on mental illness, very rarely is someone actually found not guilty because of mental health.

Records also show Buchan's family writing that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 14.

"Ultimately by 2012, 2013, he is no longer being treated on an outpatient basis even. He's released, no more monitor treatment, no more outpatient treatment, and he's basically free as of 2012, 2013," said Kramer.

Buchan's outpatient treatment center wrote a letter to the judge in 2011, writing that Buchan had been compliant with his treatment and wanted to live on his own. Several months later, Buchan's sister wrote a letter to the same judge warning of his behavior.

"David needs help and needs to be taken off the streets. He's going to get killed or kill someone," wrote his sister to the judge in 2012.

"After a few years, you can be not guilty by way of insanity and within a few years have no mandatory therapy, no mandatory outpatient treatment, no inpatient treatment, nothing more and just be free and out there," said Kramer.

Kramer also said often someone who struggles with mental illness becomes stable while taking their medications, but once that stops their behavior can became unpredictable.

"There are some eerie similarities between the earlier case where Buchan stabbed his mother and the current case. They both involved stabbings, both involved knives. They both involve a parent. I'm sure law enforcement is taking a good hard look at that in their investigation," said Kramer.

Investigators initially asked for the public's help in locating the two on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening, the Sheriff's Office said both were placed on a Baker Act hold.

The victim's 2006 Ford Taurus was located overnight Sunday.

Detectives have not said if criminal charges will be filed in homicide.


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