(Forsyth County, GA) The organization that supports residents with mental and physical disabilities in Forsyth County is reeling over the recent report of a murder-suicide of a father and daughter well-known in the community. Many have taken to social media, including Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow, to share stories about the family and discuss ways to better support others in their situation.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) reported this week that it is investigating the deaths of 58-year-old Jerry Frix and 26-year-old Megan Frix, who had special needs, as a murder-suicide.
On Sunday, January 8, a visiting home health aide found the father and daughter dead in their home.
Sheriff Ron Freeman said the Major Crimes Unit Detectives have determined that the father was most likely responsible for their deaths.
“The loss of life is especially tragic as the adult daughter had special needs and had lost her mother just a few years before,” Freeman said. “There can be no justification for the loss of life, and we need to ensure that people know that they can reach out for help by calling 988 and be instantly connected to a crisis counselor.”
Authorities are waiting for results from the state Medical Examiner's Office and will conduct additional interviews before making a final ruling as to the cause of death and the reasons behind the incident.
Creative Enterprises is a nonprofit organization that helps individuals with disabilities in Forsyth County.
The organization posted on its Facebook page a few days after the tragedy acknowledging the Frix family as former clients. Megan, who was on the autism spectrum and non-verbal, was a part of the organization but due to some issues, Creative decided to provide her services in her home rather than at their facility.
“While she was receiving some services in her home, the lack of support her father felt caused him to kill her and then kill himself. Extreme situations cause people to do things they would not typically do, and this is a prime example of that,” the post stated.
The post noted two other deaths of adults with disabilities in Forsyth County in recent years.
“In all three of these situations, we have failed these people as a community,” the post stated.
Lisa Bennett, the manager of the Forsyth County and Dawson County Creative Enterprises locations, had worked with Megan since she was three years old. While reflecting on Megan, Bennett said she loved to look at Kohl's magazines, watch Conway Twitty, and drive with her dad to some of his worksites.
Megan’s mother was her main caretaker before her death in 2019.
“When Megan's mother died, I asked him, ‘Are you going to take Megan or do you want them to place her somewhere?’ and he said, ‘No, she's mine. I want to take her,’” Bennett said.
Bennett said many families are reluctant to put their loved ones in homes due to the distance. While there is one farther north of Forsyth County, most are located in south Georgia.
Jerry and Megan did have assistance through social security and state programs, as well as help from local county programs.
“I think that he did the best he could with the situation,” Bennett said. “Megan was hard to handle and he did have help, but he didn’t have help 24 hours a day. I'm sure those downtimes were times where he felt like he couldn't handle her.”
While there are many resources from both the county and state for adults with disabilities, Bennett said the lack of community living in the county is a big issue.
Creative Enterprises is currently helping to raise money for Keystone Village, which will be a group home for developmentally disabled adults.
In the meantime, Bennett said she would love to see more host homes available, which is when homeowners get paid to house and live with disabled adults.
“I think that would be the way to get things moving along in this county because we're so affluent in this county,” Bennett said. “It could easily be done.”
Many actions toward improving services for mental health have been going on at the state-level as well, including the expansion of mental health insurance coverage and the formation of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Former Forsyth County Manager Kevin Tanner was recently appointed as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. He said one of the biggest setbacks with improving services across the state is staffing issues.
“A lot of our providers have shortfalls in the workforce,” Tanner said. “They're not able to hire people, to bring an increase to the workforce that they have and it creates challenges across the spectrum. We're working hard to find ways to be creative, of how to address some of those workforce shortages.”
Below is a list of resources for adults with disabilities in Forsyth County:
- Access Forsyth (formerly Dial-A-Ride)
- Ride Share (Discounted Uber or Lyft rides)
- Stacey’s Place
- Creative Enterprises
- Miracle League of Cumming Forsyth County
- Special Olympics Forsyth County
- Therapeutic Recreation Program
- Keystone Village
The Forsyth County Public Library also provides a list of Accessibility and Special Needs Resources.
There are many ways Forsyth County residents can help disabled adults in their community. This includes volunteering, donating and becoming a “host home.”
Bennett said local businesses can also help by offering employment to these individuals. Usually for completing simple tasks like putting items in a bag or stuffing envelopes.
To learn more about Creative Enterprises, visit creativeenterprises.org. Donations can be made here. Volunteer information can be found here.
For more information on Keystone Village, visit keystonevillage.org. Donations can be made here.
If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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