'They struggle on their own': Family speaks out about mental health after son's killers plead guilty
Jerry Goodeagle and Dyson White pleaded guilty to killing Jonathan Schmeikal in 2015
In the end, Jonathan Schmeikal's best qualities couldn't save him.
The 34-year-old Calgarian struggled with mental health issues that his parents tried exhaustively to help him overcome. But self-medicating with street drugs and his associations with criminals tied to that habit cost him his life.
Schmeikal's body was found in a car in Forest Lawn in September 2015. He'd been shot to death.
His family says he barely knew his killers — two men who pleaded guilty last week. Dyson White, 39, entered a guilty plea to manslaughter while Jerry Goodeagle, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on the morning their trial was to begin.
On Friday, the Schmeikals delivered victim impact statements in court. They used the opportunity to speak out about the hardships families face when trying to help loved ones with mental illnesses. Jonathan suffered from bipolar disorder as well as schizophrenia, according to his parents.
"We tried so hard over the years to help him," said Bernhard Schmeikal. "It was exhausting to deal with governments and with authorities to try to help people like that."
After fighting for years to get support from various government agencies, Jonathan's AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) finally came through a couple of weeks after his death.
"It was almost like they want you to give up," said Bernhard.
Jonathan, like many who suffer mental illnesses, got "wrapped up" in a world where the lines are blurred between those who turn to drugs to self-medicate and real criminals, said his younger brother Patrick.
He sees his older brother as "someone else that just slipped through the cracks."
'... then you come across these guys'
Sometimes the friends Jonathan came across were suffering like him, and sometimes they took advantage of his kindness and generosity.
His parents say he was compassionate to a fault, even offering shelter to homeless people he'd meet.
But that kindness coupled with Jonathan's vulnerable state given his struggles proved to be a dangerous combination.
"He sought out friends to try to find some joy, and then you come across these guys," said Bernhard, referencing his son's killers.
'We haven't really seen full justice'
A date for sentencing submissions will be set in January. Lawyers have not yet indicated what they'll seek in terms of sentences.
The fatal dispute came down to a couple hundred dollars, according to Bernhard, who feels "the legal system was satisfied but we haven't really seen full justice."
Jonathan's parents and four surviving siblings said they felt they needed to face his killers and deliver their victim impact statements.
"This is the last thing we can do for our son," said Henriette. "It's not just a guy. It was our son."