A mentally ill teenager stabbed his grandparents to death after a voice in his head told him to “kill” them, a court ruled today.
Tobyn Salvatore subjected Denis and Mary Fell to a merciless knife attack, even cutting off his grandmother’s hand as she tried to protect herself from his attack.
He later told psychiatrists that he attributed the voice he heard to “Woman in Black,” a character from a horror movie he’d seen over 80 times.
The deeply religious Salvatore also told doctors, “I believe if my grandparents died, they would be resurrected,” claiming that a quote from the Bible came to his mind at the time that “all your dead loved ones will be resurrected.”
The High Court in Livingston was told that two months before the bloodbath, Salvatore bought a 20cm ultra-sharp kitchen knife and a 10-inch butcher knife from the internet and claimed he intended to commit suicide by cutting off his head.
But instead of hurting himself, he used the blades to brutally injure his grandparents after a heated argument broke out over a Christmas basket he had taken to his room.
The two, 73, died of deep stab wounds to the neck in a bloodbath at their home in Livingston, West Lothian, on Boxing Day 2021.
After the murders, Salvatore calmly stripped off his blood-soaked clothes and took a bath before going to the local police station and confessing, “I murdered someone — my grandparents.”
Police officers who forced their way into the couple’s Raeburn Rigg home found Denis Fell’s body lying in the hallway. His wife Mary was found lying in the living room.
Her severed hand was found in the hallway to the right of her husband’s foot and a piece of her scalp was recovered from the kitchen floor.
Assistant attorney David Dickson revealed that Salvatore claimed he stabbed his grandmother in the neck as he intended to kill himself that way.
He recounted how Salvatore’s grandfather bravely stood up and tried to take the knife from his grandson after he had stabbed Frau Fell for the first time.
Salvatore responded by stabbing his grandfather twice, causing the pensioner to fall to the ground.
Mr Dickson said: “The defendant then turned to his grandmother and said ‘Die!’ to her about five times.
“He explained that he was angry at this point because his grandparents’ deaths were taking longer than he thought.
“He explained that his grandmother was in the hallway and had both hands on the living room doorknob to prevent him from approaching her.
“He broke down the door and severed her left hand from her arm with the butcher’s knife.
“His grandmother ran into the kitchen where he repeatedly stabbed her in the head.
“His grandmother fell on the floor in the living room, where he then sat with her.
“She spoke to him and said, ‘Why Jay? Why?”
“He said he stayed with her until she died.”
Mr Dickson said Denis Fell came into the kitchen and took the knife from the accused as he fell.
“Salvatore ran upstairs while his grandfather ran to the front door, opened it and yelled three times for help.
“As he retrieved the second knife from his bedroom, he pushed past his grandfather to shut the door and stabbed him in the neck with the second knife. Then his grandfather collapsed.”
Salvatore – now 21 and incarcerated in the Carstairs State Mental Hospital – officially changed his name from Jay Fell in 2016 in a bizarre tribute to fictional brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore from the TV series Vampire Diaries.
He was originally scheduled to stand trial on two counts of murder, but on Wednesday pleaded guilty to minor charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Denis Fell died from a laceration to the neck that damaged his carotid artery, causing profuse bleeding that resulted in death from hypovolemic shock.
The cause of Mary Fell’s death was multiple severe injuries from sharp violence.
She sustained at least 11 sharp injuries to the head and neck, which would have caused profuse bleeding, and at least seven sharp injuries to the torso.
In addition to having her left hand amputated, she and her husband suffered typical defensive wounds resulting from raising their arms in defense.
Donald Findlay KC, defending himself, said a psychiatrist who examined Salvatore “was of the opinion that this was undoubtedly a case of diminished responsibility.”
Judge Lord Young issued a restraining order that will keep Salvatore in the state hospital while a further psychiatric evaluation is carried out pending the sentencing hearing in Edinburgh on 21 September.
He told the accused: “You have pleaded guilty to the culpable murder of your grandparents who appear to have provided you with a loving, caring home.
“The Crown has accepted that your state of mind at the time was such that you acted with diminished responsibility.
“It is evident that your treatment is at an early stage. It is ongoing and I need to get more evidence from the treating psychiatrist and the psychiatrist before I can decide on disposal.”
A dozen family members of the “close” family attended the court hearing but asked not to be approached for press comment on the case.
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