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DIGGING DEEPER: Family blames failed legal system for Quincy teen’s death

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Gage Patterson

QUINCY (WGEM) — A Quincy man sits in the Adams County Jail, transferred from Sangamon County on Tuesday. Gage Patterson will be in court on Wednesday, accused of violating an order of protection for a Quincy teen who drowned in a pond last month.

The victim's family says the court system failed them and may be responsible for their loved-one's death.

A tumultuous romantic relationship between Kaylee Mehochko, 16,  and Gage Patterson, 20, ended October 27, at the bottom of a pond at a Sherman, Illinois, golf course.

Mehochko's cousin Lindsay May and uncle Jim May say Patterson beat Kaylee on multiple occasions, even landing her in the hospital.

"Her ear was twice the size," said Lindsay May. "Her face was completely bruised. She had bite marks on her shoulders and on her chest. One of her eyes was completely filled with blood. It was terrible."

According to court documents, Kaylee's mother says Patterson told her, "I will beat your daughter any time I want. It's going to be me or her, one of us going to be dead."

That's when Kaylee's mom filed an order of protection against Patterson. When looking at Patterson's criminal past, WGEM found a long list of run-ins with the law, including allegations of stealing and multiple battery charges. Even his own grandmother sought an order of protection against him just last year, after she said he beat his dog and threatened to kill her.

"Although I'm very, very angry with Gage through this ordeal, I am equally as angry at the system," said Jim May.

Patterson's initial bond at the Adams County Jail was set at $500,000. That bond was reduced to $5,000 on the condition Patterson checks into a rehab facility, per the Adams County State's Attorney's request. That facility was the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Springfield, Illinois.

Kaylee's family says the Salvation Army let Patterson out, but the state's attorney claimed he knew nothing about it.

"How can he not know that the rehab program that he's sending these people to allow them to be out on the streets during rehab?" said Jim May.

The Salvation Army declined WGEM News' request for an interview, but issued this statement:

"The Salvation Army’s goal is to serve our most vulnerable citizens. For  more than 70  years, we have operated a rehabilitation program in Springfield to help people overcome the challenges of substance abuse. In addition to participants who self-admit, we also serve those who are part of a court-ordered rehabilitation program. We do so at the request of the criminal justice system and admit and operate within the laws of the state.

When an individual begins the program, they are required to adhere to a 30-day restriction period, during which they are under consistent supervision. After that time, we recommend they continue a strict schedule and proven-program to ensure success.

We are fully cooperating with authorities to ensure the safety of those involved and at this time, are unable to comment further."

Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha did not return multiple messages left by WGEM News. He told our newsgathering partners at the Herald-Whig;

"We feel terrible. This is not representative of our office in how we handle domestic violence cases. We did not think that our victim would be at risk at all."

May says Kaylee was in Springfield to visit family and somehow Patterson got in touch with her and ended up in the passenger seat of her car. The car was found in the bottom of a pond and Kaylee was dead.

Mehochko's family says the court promised to tell the family if Patterson was ever released. The say they were never notified that he posted bail or that he was taken to a rehab center.

Jim May says if they knew that, there's a very good chance Kaylee would still be alive. May says he does plan on being at Patterson's court appearance on Wednesday.

The investigation into the car crash is ongoing. Illinois State Police took over the case on the night of the incident. The Mehochko family is waiting on that investigation, along with the complete coroner's report. The coroner lists Kaylee's preliminary cause of death as drowning.

Preliminary Arraignment - Oct 9
Preliminary Arraignment - Aug 21
Bill of Indictment: Aggravated Domestic Battery - Aug 1
Charging Document: Aggravated Domestic Battery - May 24
Charging Document: Aggravated Fleeing to Elude a Peace Officer - May 22
Order of Protection - May 20
Petition for Order of Protection - Jun 19 2018
Court Document: Domestic Battery / Aggravated Assault - Nov 9 2017

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Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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