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Mom frustrated decade later by America's gun access issues, system she says failed her daughter

'I did everything I could think of'
Posted: 4:22 PM, May 09, 2023
Updated: 2023-05-10 13:01:27-04
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shortly after Colby Weathers began living on her own, her mother, Janet Delana, noticed Colby had started hearing voices.

At 38, Colby told investigators those voices were the reason she shot and killed her dad.

It's a story painfully told through Colby’s call to 911.

"My name is Colby Weathers. I live in Wellington, Missouri, and I shot my father.”

Long history of mental illness

Janet Delana, Colby Weather's mom, says she tried to prevent this day for years by fighting to block Colby's access to guns.

Colby was in her mid-30s when Janet said her daughter became paranoid.

"I walked into her apartment and every window was covered with blankets, and I said, 'What’s going on?'" Janet said. "And it was dark, it was really dark, and she said, 'Mom, I don’t want people seeing in.'"

Janet said Colby told her the people driving by were staring at her as she sat in her apartment.

As Colby's mental health grew increasingly worse, Janet and her husband, Tex, moved their daughter back home to live with them.

Doctors diagnosed Colby with a host of mental health disorders, including bipolar depression and schizophrenia.

Despite being in and out of mental health hospitals for years, Janet said Colby's mental health didn't improve.

Tex became Colby's primary caregiver as Janet worked full-time.

"I was crying, we went to bed and I was crying," Janet said. "And he started crying, and I said, 'Tex, I know we have to do this, but it’s hard and I just can’t take it.' He looked at me and said, 'Janet, you go to work every day.’ He said, 'I’m here 24/7.'”

On one of those days, Colby left the house. She returned with a gun.

"She said, 'Dad, I bought a gun, will you put it in the safe?'" Janet recalled..

Colby bought the gun from Odessa Gun and Pawn,10 miles from where the Delanas lived, according to a civil lawsuit later filed by Janet.

Janet said her husband got rid of the weapon, but she worried Colby would buy another gun.

Mom on a mission

Janet called the police, FBI and ATF for help.

"I said, 'How do I prevent this? What can I do? Is there a list? What can we do to keep her from buying a gun again?'” Janet said.

Janet said authorities told her if she could provide Colby's medical records, it's possible her daughter could be added to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NCIS), which is designed to keep guns from winding up in the hands of people who may be unsafe or pose a risk to themselves or others.

"He said, 'Ma'am, even if we get the records, I don't know if we could get her on the list today,'" Janet said.

Days before Colby shot her dad

On June 25, 2022, Janet called the store that sold Colby the gun.

Court records from a lawsuit she filed against the shop show Janet claimed she "made it abundantly clear that Colby was mentally ill and posed a serious threat to herself or others if she obtained a firearm" and "urgently" asked the store not to sell Colby another gun because of the "great likelihood" she'd use the weapon to "shoot herself or others.”

Janet said the store manager ignored her pleas.

"He said, ‘If she comes in, we have to sell her a gun,’" Janet said. "She's severely mentally ill, severely, and I said, 'You can't do it.' And I said, 'I'm begging you, as a mother, don’t sell my daughter a gun.'"

That was on a Monday.

Two days later, Colby bought another handgun from the same store.

On Colby's way home, she stopped at the local mini-mart where she ran into a former teacher.

David Twente, the former teacher who now serves as a volunteer firefighter, said Colby was acting unsettled.

"She was really erratic," Twente said. "[She] had a piece of paper up beside her head like she was trying to keep people from seeing her and doing a lot of muttering and talking to herself."

Just minutes after their encounter, Colby shot her dad as he was sitting in the home office at his computer. Twente then received an emergency call over his radio.

While en route, he realized the address was that of the Delana home.

As he arrived, Twente noticed Colby outside.

"She is standing right by the road," Twente said. "She was just in a lather, just in a faunch.”

Twente said he will never forget the words Colby spoke to him.

"She said, 'Help me, help me. I shot my dad,’" he said.

While at work, Janet received a text message from Colby that read, "Mom, I'm not your good girl cake baker anymore."

In a separate text, Colby wrote, "Dad is dead."

Panicked, Janet rushed home.

Colby shot her dad at point-blank range a little more than an hour after purchasing the gun.

Following her arrest, Colby was sent to a mental health hospital.

"She said, 'Mom, it's such a fog,' but she remembers thinking that was the Devil," Janet said.

Prosecutors charged Colby with murder. A judge later determined that on the day of the shooting, Colby's mental illness made her "incapable" of knowing the "wrongfulness" of her actions.

In September 2014, Caldwell County accepted Colby's not guilty plea by reason of mental disease. She was then sent to a mental health facility, where she remains today.

That same year, Janet sued Odessa Gun and Pawn for negligence. She eventually reached a $2 million settlement.

Challenge of keeping guns out of wrongful hands

Odessa Gun and Pawn declined to speak with the KSHB 41 I-Team, but in documents from the civil suit filed by Janet Delana, the store denied any wrongdoing.

Instead, the store claimed, "Janet failed to take the appropriate steps to have Colby adjudged mentally incompetent and included in the NICS system."

John Ham, spokesperson for Kansas City ATF, said the store operated legally.

"Under federal law, the dealer did nothing wrong," Ham said.

While gun stores can refuse to sell to someone who is acting suspiciously, Ham said Odessa Gun and Pawn did not violate any laws by selling to Colby.

"Ultimately, the store complied with federal regulation," he said.

However, Ham said Colby's case illustrates the difficulties in getting those who struggle with mental health issues into the NICS system.

Because Colby did not have an adjudicated mental health case, she could not be placed in the system.

"A judge has to decide that they are not able to take care of their own affairs," Ham said. "And, so, that’s the bar at which you would be under federal law [to] lose your ability to possess or purchase firearms.”

Calls for change

Now, a decade later, Janet's frustrated by a system she said failed Colby.

"If Missouri would've had a three-day waiting period, she wouldn't have been able to buy the gun until Saturday," she said.

Janet continues to grieve the loss of her husband as she searches for an answer to a gun problem that impacts America.

"I did everything I could think of," Janet said.