She said she feared for her life, so she left her grandson at the CPS headquarters in Jackson
*Names in this article have been changed in order to protect the identity of minors
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Honda Collier admits that she did it. Yes, she left her grandson at the Child Protective Services headquarters right in the middle of Jackson, Mississippi. She will even tell you that as she drove away, she didn’t so much as look back.
Hours before this deed, she had written a manifesto of sorts laying out her reasons for doing so.
It read, “To whom it may concern, my name is Honda Collier. I’ve been taking care of Max since birth; adopted at 11 months. He’s always been troubled. I’ve tried what I could to help him. He has been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders. Behavior has gotten worse. I am writing this letter to relinquish my rights... I can not handle him mentally or physically. I am scared for my life.”
As the letter states, Honda had taken care of Max for most of his life. Her daughter, Max’s mother, had largely been absent - leaving Honda to raise him, her only grandchild, mostly by herself.
What is also revealed in the letter are Max’s mental disorders: multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder. He had been showing signs of these since childhood, Honda would say. And, as she wrote, they had progressively gotten worse, so much so that Honda felt she could no longer care for him.
What followed for Honda would be threats of imprisonment and an eventual warrant for her arrest.
The action she took is obviously shocking. How could a grandmother do that? But if you were to ask Honda, it was a desperate yet necessary decision for both her safety and the safety of Max himself.
Honda is a native of Detroit, Michigan, has four children, and is 50 years old. After her children were grown, Honda wanted something different for her life. She says her last marriage had been “rough,” and that she had always been a country girl.
Mississippi seemed like the right fit for her and her grandson, Max.
Before the pair moved to Mississippi, Honda officially adopted Max. That was five years ago. Since their move, Honda has made the trek to Detroit, she says, multiple times a month in order to get Max treatment for his disorders. This included seeing therapists and getting medication.
In one statement written by Max’s therapist, which Honda provided to WLBT, the therapist wrote that Max was in need of “intense mental health services” and that Max “has a history of violence towards animals and people.” The therapist suggested that Max be placed in a long-term mental facility.
The documents also showed that Max was on a multitude of prescription medications as of October 2021, including Catapres, a sedative, Trazodone, an antidepressant, Depakote, for his bipolar disorder, and Zyprexa, an antipsychotic to treat his schizophrenia.
As a child, Honda says, she would try to get Max to socialize with other children, but there would always be “an episode.” This happened over the course of several years. After a number of these “episodes,” which, she says, involved Max harming other children, she decided to “get him out of here.”
Their move to Mississippi soon followed. Max was around 7 years old at this time.
But, as it would turn out, the move to Mississippi did not quell Max’s “episodes.” Max even began threatening to harm Honda’s partner, Patrick Rounds, and, for his protection, Patrick began calling Honda on the phone when he was alone with Max in case Max did something to him.
All along, Honda says she would talk to her grandson about his behavior, telling him that if things didn’t get better, she would be forced to do something she didn’t want to do.
In the past few years, Honda says Max’s behavior has become more aggressive. Although Max has never harmed Honda, she put chimes on all of the doors inside her house so she would know where he was at all times.
She also installed a deadbolt on her bedroom door, “because I don’t know what he’ll do. I have a child that’s telling me that he has voices telling him to do things.”
Because of this, Honda reached out to family members for help, even contacting Max’s mother. She says once the mother was in the picture, things became worse.
This reached a climax in an alleged incident where Max’s mother, who was with her boyfriend, attempted to take Max from Honda’s home in Utica, hitting Honda with her car in the process. There is a police report of this incident occurring on October 28 of 2021.
Utica’s police chief, Timothy Myles, confirmed that an arrest warrant has been issued for Max’s mother. He also said that he was aware of the family circumstances and Max’s “behavior problems,” but confessed that in these type of family situations, it’s hard to know “who’s telling the truth.”
It was at this time that Child Protective Services became involved, which Honda was somewhat grateful for. She needed their help. The second encounter with CPS was after Max allegedly attacked a student at school. It was at this point that Honda told CPS “I can’t take no more of this.”
At one point, Honda says she went to the CPS offices in Jackson herself and stayed until closing, reiterating the fact to anyone who would listen that she could no longer provide care for Max.
CPS took custody of Max for a few weeks, keeping him in a children’s shelter. Honda says she spoke to Max every day. After his stay in the shelter, Honda went to court and told the judge of her difficulties with keeping Max.
“We don’t just give up kids,” the judge told her, according to Honda. “If we don’t want them, we don’t just give them up.”
Max was given back to Honda.
The day after regaining custody of Max, Honda says she took him to Children’s of Mississippi. After explaining her situation, Max was admitted into the hospital where he would end up staying for several months.
Honda says she was in contact with the hospital during that time. Due to federal patient privacy regulations, UMMC could not offer comment on this story.
It was the beginning of June when Max was given back over to CPS custody.
A court appearance took place on June 16 in which Honda told the judge that if Max were to return to her care, she would want additional help with him if at all possible - a gradual transition. But that would not happen.
It was the night of June 23 when Max would knock on Honda’s door. A Ring video captured the bizarre occurrence, with the 12-year-old being dropped off at his grandmother’s house around 10 p.m., his social workers standing in the background.
“Hey Nana,” Max said as Honda appeared at the door.
“We just got the call from the judge,” the social workers told Honda as she stepped outside. They then explained that Max was now out of CPS custody. He was Honda’s to care for now.
“I don’t get no help?” Honda asked the social workers once Max was inside the house. “I don’t get nothin’? You’re kidding. I’m telling you that I’m scared for my safety with this child.”
When Honda told the social workers that Max would need to go back with them, they replied, “No. We’re fixing to go.”
It was after they left that Honda wrote the letter stating that she was relinquishing her rights and that she was scared for her life.
The next day, June 24, Honda says she went to the courthouse in Jackson to try to get some clarity on what just happened. Max was with her at this time. With no luck there, she and Max went to the CPS headquarters.
According to Honda, she was met by an officer once she made it there. The officer had been advised not to let Honda inside the building, Honda claims. A back-and-forth ensued, but, still, Honda was not let in.
“So at that point, I looked at Max, I looked at the [officer], and I said, ‘Okay.’” And that was when she left Max.
During my first interview with Honda on July 8, I asked her how she could explain that decision to a public who might not be so sympathetic.
“To raise a child, especially a child with a mental illness, it takes a village, not one person. I feel like [CPS] is that village. They have different resources... I don’t have that. All I have is me being scared. All I have is my safety being compromised,” she said.
Hours after dropping Max off at the CPS offices, Honda says she began getting calls from CPS, asking if she would take Max back. She refused. They then began threatening Honda with jail time. Honda says the pressure of the situation caused her to pass out in her front yard.
When reached for comment, CPS said they cannot remark on specific cases.
On Thursday, July 14, Honda sent me a photo. It was of her arrest warrant. She had been charged with child neglect. She could either turn herself in or wait until the police picked her up. “I don’t know what to do,” she said on the phone.
Honda told me that she had no intention of leaving Max at the CPS headquarters that day, and that she had only wanted to speak to an official and to figure out “what was going on.”
And, if she were able to speak to a judge, that’s when she would provide them with the letter renouncing her conservatorship of Max. But when no one would speak to her, well, she did what she did.
“I don’t know what else to do,” she reiterated. “I’m tired... Nobody should have to go through this. Nobody. I should not have to fear for my life like this. I’m fighting for my actual life with a child that I’m scared of. Now I’m fighting for my life with the judicial system. What do I have to live for at this point?”
I later spoke to a cousin of Honda’s, Selena, who lives in Detroit. She told me her and Honda are like sisters.
Selena said she was aware of Honda’s arrest warrant and that all she could do was pray; pray that Honda wouldn’t go to jail and pray that Max wouldn’t “fall through the cracks” like so many other children with mental illness.
“Putting [Honda] in jail, what is that gonna accomplish?” she asked. “[Max] is still not getting any help, right? It’s a desperate grandmother trying to get help for her mentally ill grandson at any means necessary. That’s how I feel.”
It was August now, and Honda was awaiting her court dates with one scheduled for September and another in October.
Due to the child neglect charge, she was set to appear in both juvenile court and felony court. But with the help of her lawyer, the arrest warrant had been dismissed.
As for Max, Honda said she hasn’t been able to speak to him since she dropped him off at the CPS headquarters. She said she hopes that he will be put in a long-term care facility and stop being bounced around from home to home.
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health currently operates two programs specifically for young people with mental health challenges: a child and adolescent unit at the Mississippi State Hospital and the Specialized Treatment Facility.
However, according to Adam Moore with DMH, the preference for all individuals with mental needs, including children and adolescents, is to be served in the “least restrictive environment possible” without a need for admission to an inpatient or residential program.
He mentioned that a variety of services are available, including targeted case management, outpatient therapy and intensive outpatient psychiatric services.
During our first interview, Honda mentioned that without the help Max needs, she fears he may end up in jail, or worse, that he may hurt someone and that they will retaliate - with that retaliation being fatal.
Through everything, though, Honda says that she still loves Max. “With all my heart,” she said. “With everything in me.”
“I would not have gone twelve years if I didn’t. I just can’t do it anymore,” Honda continued, getting emotional. “At some point you have to give up. I have to let go or both of us are gonna drown.”
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