A Mother Implores for Help for Her Jailed Son
Jeremiah Sinarski awaits transfer from Jackson to the state hospital
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Dec 17, 2023
Jeremiah Sinarksi, 47, has been incarcerated at the Teton County Jail since he was arrested last summer for a drunken incident in Jackson. He has been deemed incompetent to proceed with his criminal case, according to his attorney, while authorities have been unable to transfer him to the Wyoming State Hospital, due to a shortage of beds. (Courtesy photo from Wyoming County Commissioners Association website)
By Alec Klein
Special to the Wyoming Truth
Editor’s Note: This story discusses alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide. Reader discretion is advised.
Jeremiah is a biblical figure whose sufferings led him to be known as the “weeping prophet.” But decades ago, Lenore Wright named her firstborn “Jeremiah” for another reason.
“It was,” she said, “a strong name.” It signified to her something about the wilderness, “out West.”
Now, though, Wright sees a different meaning for her son: Jeremiah Sinarksi, plagued with drug addiction and mental illness, has been incarcerated for nearly half a year at the Teton County Jail. He’s awaiting a transfer to the Wyoming State Hospital, where he could receive treatment. Instead, he sits in solitary confinement, said his attorney, who has filed a motion to hold the Wyoming State Hospital in contempt. And Wright, a retired Jackson postal worker, is imploring authorities to act now to get her son moved to the state hospital.
“They just shove him in jail,” Wright, 66 of Etna, said in an exclusive interview with the Wyoming Truth. “He needs help, but nobody wants to deal with him. That’s it. That’s the bottom line.” She then added: “They care, but they can’t do anything because of the system.”
Sinarksi, 47, has been incarcerated at the Teton County Jail since he was arrested last summer for a drunken incident at a grocery store in Jackson. He has been deemed incompetent to proceed with his criminal case, according to his attorney, while authorities have been unable to transfer him to the Wyoming State Hospital, due to a shortage of beds.
Sinarski, who has been in and out of jail for years, was expected to have been moved to the state hospital over 90 days ago, but he remains on the facility’s waitlist, with about 10 other prospective patients ahead of him, according to his attorney, Elisabeth M.W. Trefonas, the Teton County public defender, who also serves on the advisory board of the Wyoming Truth. While Sinarski was not available to comment for this article, his attorney noted he has been diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic with hallucinations, adding that he also grapples with alcohol abuse and addiction.
“What kind of [hospital] waiting list is this?” Wright asked. “I think they don’t want to deal with him. That’s why he’s in jail. Nobody can handle him.”
Officials of the Wyoming State Hospital said they could not comment on an individual case. But in a statement, the hospital said: “The Wyoming State Hospital is [a] critical part of an overall system. Availability of care at the hospital is affected by several factors, including staffing and demand. We do face challenges currently and continue to look for ways to improve the system.” Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr couldn’t be reached for comment.
Wright doesn’t only want her son transferred to the state hospital immediately. She wants people to know that the Jeremiah confined in a haze of confusion and suffering isn’t the Jeremiah she raised.
That Jeremiah grew up in a family who raised pigs and turkeys, and so he developed an abiding love for animals. “Oh, God, he’s so in love with wildlife, it’s almost sick,” Wright said. “He’ll see a dead deer on the road and then he’ll get sick and cry. He’ll pull it off the road and sit and ball and then scream and yell and holler.”
Jeremiah was a smart child who was great at math, his mother said, adding that “He was a good kid.” He loved to sing and play the guitar—rock tunes mostly. She was so proud of her son when he graduated from high school that she wept. She was so proud of him when, later, he worked in construction and helped build the gazebo by the wildlife refuge in Jackson near the Dairy Queen. He has a younger half-sister who lives in Oregon, where she is thriving as an interior designer of commercial kitchens, Wright said.
As an adult, Jeremiah fell in love and married a woman from France; it ended after a handful of years, his mother said. Along the way, Wright said her son fell into the wrong crowd. She doesn’t remember when precisely Jeremiah got into drugs, and she’s not sure why, though she noted that his biological father also struggled with drug addiction, wandering the streets of Arizona.
Jeremiah’s condition worsened over the years. On a construction job site, he’d sometimes fall from a beam, striking his head, and Wright said she’d take him to the emergency room. People she didn’t know would call her out of the blue and ask her to pick up her son from their home because he was incapable of moving on his own. He’d rant about movie celebrities in a stream of non sequiturs: “Why won’t Harrison Ford come talk to me?” he’d ask his mother. Wright had no answer.
It got to the point where, she said, he was so gripped by mental illness that “He tried to kill himself multiple times—so many times, I can’t even tell you.” He’d ask people to beat him, she said; he’d slice his wrists. He’d swallow a bunch of prescription pills.
Things didn’t improve. About a year ago, they were in the car together, mother and son, running an errand—and Jeremiah evidently didn’t like a song playing on the radio. “He started crying and bawling,” Wright recalled. She couldn’t explain it; all she could do was turn off the radio.
More recently, in August, her husband of 40 years died after a long bout with a lung disease. This was Jeremiah’s stepfather who had raised him since he was a child. Wright loved her husband. So did Jeremiah. “He started screaming,” she said. “Every time I talk to him, he screams.”
Now, Wright said she only hopes her son can get “out of the jail” soon and be placed in the state hospital, so he can get the help he needs.
“I want him to get better,” she said. “I want him to be Jeremiah.”