Attorney: Daughter accused of killing mother with crossbow has ‘long-standing history’ of mental illness

PALMERTON (WNEP) -- The attorney for a woman charged with killing her mother with a crossbow said his client has a history of mental illness.

Police charged Lisa Caplan, 51, with killing her 71-year-old mother Sandra Barndt at a home in Palmerton.

According to police reports, Caplan lived with her mother's dead body for two days.

State police say on Wednesday, Caplan shot her mother in the neck with a crossbow, reloaded, then shot her in the face and went to bed.

RELATED: Photos of Lisa Caplan

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Daughter accused of killing mother with a crossbow
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Daughter accused of killing mother with a crossbow
Police say a 51-year-old woman killed her 71-year-old mother with a crossbow and lived with her mother’s body for two days.
Police say a 51-year-old woman killed her 71-year-old mother with a crossbow and lived with her mother’s body for two days.
Police say a 51-year-old woman killed her 71-year-old mother with a crossbow and lived with her mother’s body for two days.
Police say a 51-year-old woman killed her 71-year-old mother with a crossbow and lived with her mother’s body for two days.
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Caplan told Newswatch 16 her mom attacked her.

The family attorney now says Caplan has a long history of mental illness, including chronic schizophrenia, was recently released from a psychiatric facility, and didn't know what she was doing.

Attorney Jon Ostroff said Caplan is "unable to comprehend what she has been charged with doing."

Ostroff blames the death on a "broken mental health system."

"For decades, Ms. Caplan has been in and out of mental health facilities. Throughout this time, she has been a danger to herself and her family. During these years, it has been her family's long-standing position that she should remain under the care and close watch of mental health professionals who are trained to properly treat and control her. Due to the failure of the mental health system, she was recently released from a psychiatric institution once again. Yesterday, she was charged by police with using a crossbow to shoot and kill her elderly mother," Ostroff said.

Ostroff wants police to order a psychiatric assessment of Caplan immediately.

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