Tammy Lacher Scully is desperately searching for her son — and just as desperately searching for ways to explain who he is.
An understanding of who he is — has been, and continues to be — key to eliciting the help needed to look for him.
Graham Lacher is not a child. He is 37. He is brilliant. He is gentle. He writes extraordinary poetry. And he is afraid of people. Not in a confrontational way. He just avoids them.
Lacher was last seen on Monday, June 6, running away from the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center at 656 State Street in Bangor, where he resided as a voluntary patient. But even as a voluntary admission, according to his mother, who is also his legal guardian, his treatment plan would have required an assessment before discharge that he was ready to re-enter the community.
Because he was voluntarily admitted, it was not initially simple to raise the alarm with authorities. At first blush it appeared that Graham had voluntarily admitted himself and then voluntarily left.
But life choices for Graham Lacher are not that straightforward; Lacher is schizophrenic — which for him means he is often directed by a voice no one else can hear, to set out on a path with no real plan and a murky destination. And he is afraid of people. On June 6, he left with no money, no ID, no coat, no food, no water and no cell phone. And no way to get help.
Because he also suffers from a form of autism, he does not interact with people — which means he is unlikely to ask for assistance.
Lacher grew up in Winterport. First symptomatic at seven and given various diagnoses — ADHD, Autism, Schizophrenia — he was more conclusively diagnosed as schizophrenic at 14, and given a second diagnosis of Autism/Asperger’s as a teen and young adult.
He was first hospitalized in his early 20s and, in 2017, he moved into a group home in Norridgewock, where he lived for five years before taking off from there in November 2021.
He had money that time and, when he was found, it seemed likely that he had sat quietly in two different fast food restaurants, after ordering food, a book opened on the table in front of him, his head down, and that he may have slept that way, and walked around at night to stay warm. He explained he’d had "an involuntary summons from the nether realm” when asked why he’d left the group home.
“So clearly not a rational thought that caused him to bolt,” explained Scully.
The Bangor Police Department has issued a Silver Alert (a procedure intended to help locate both elderly persons and individuals with mental illness) for 37-year-old Graham Lacher: Last seen Monday around 4:20 p.m., leaving Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center wearing a gray, jacket-like shirt, gray/green Carhartt pants and an orange knit hat.
Lacher has brown hair, blue eyes, a beard and mustache and weighs around 200 pounds.
Both K9 and drone searches have been conducted. Tammy and husband Jack Scully, who reside in Belfast, have spent hours canvassing areas around stores and shopping malls not far from the back exit of Dorothea Dix and hope that retail staffers will examine camera footage.
Searching for him and spreading word of his disappearance has taken over their life.
For anyone who sees Graham, says his mother, the ideal thing would be to call 911 and keep him in sight from a distance until help arrives. And if he bolts, to take note of the Point Last Seen (PLS). If he retreats into woods, the Warden Service can conduct a scent-specific search for him with a K9.
“I just don’t think Graham would respond to anyone trying to talk to him, and saying his name might alarm him—trigger his paranoia. But he might surprise us all; I surely hope he’s managing to survive in ways we never expected he would need to,” says Scully.
Terrilyn Simpson lives in Winthrop