Boy, 16, Strangles Mother to Death While En-Route to Treatment for Mental Health Problems

A fatal traffic accident in Phoenix this morning turned out to be something far more sinister. Phoenix police now say that a woman thought to have been killed in the wreck was actually murdered by her 16-year-old son before he got behind the wheel and crashed into a pickup truck.

According to the Phoenix Police Department, Tina Ferlet, her mother, and another 20-year-old woman, drove to California to pick up Ferlet's 16-year-old son, Nathan, so they could get him some help for mental health problems.

About 5:40 a.m. today, a 2010 Ford Focus being driven by Nathan Ferlet crashed into a pickup truck at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road.

Tina Ferlet, who was riding in the passenger seat at the time of the wreck, was declared dead at the scene, while Ferlet, his grandmother, the 20-year-old passenger, and the 46-year-old driver of the pickup truck all received non-life-threatening injuries.

Police initially believed that Tina Ferlet was killed in the wreck, but detectives uncovered information that suggests Nathan Ferlet strangled her to death before stealing the car and crashing into the pickup.

Prior to the wreck, at about 4 a.m., Ferlet's grandmother was driving the car when she stopped at a convenience store near 35th Avenue and Roosevelt Street. She ran into the store and told the attendant to call the cops because someone in her car was being strangled.

Meanwhile, Nathan Ferlet jumped out of the backseat of the car, got behind the wheel, and drove away. However, his grandmother managed to hop back into the vehicle before he sped off.

It's unclear whether Tina Ferlet was dead at this point, but Nathan Ferlet drove the car for another hour and 40 minutes before crashing into the pickup truck -- with his grandmother pleading with him to pull over, and presumably with his dead mother riding shotgun.

Nathan is being detained in the hospital because of injuries sustained in the crash. Police say, when he's released from the hospital, he will be charged with killing his mother. Other charges are expected as well.

According to the PPD, "the investigation is still on-going and there are many unanswered

Check back to Valley Fever for updates.

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James King
Contact: James King