Virginia man who admitted decapitating 5-year-old son ordered released

Joseph Hagerman III pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing his son Joshua.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach man who admitted to decapitating his five-year-old son in 2009 was granted release Monday.

Joseph Hagerman III pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing his son Joshua. During a jailhouse interview with WAVY, he claimed he took his son’s life to save him from evil.

Since August 2009, Hagerman has been getting treatment in various hospitals. He’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. When not at the hospital, he has visited his parents’ Virginia Beach home and has also stayed at an adult foster home. He has been reviewed every year to see if any progress has been made in his condition.

Several doctors testified in court Monday that they believe Hagerman won’t be a threat to the community if he is released. Doctors say in the last eight years, he has taken his medicine and has not had any episodes.

Prosecutors argued that if Hagerman is released, it will be up to him to continue taking his prescribed medicine. They also questioned whether he would have enough supervision to make sure he doesn’t put anyone in danger.

Hagerman will now live at an adult foster home during the week and with his parents on the weekend. He’ll have caseworkers and others who will ensure he is taking his medicine.

“He has never gotten away with anything. The person who has always known what he did has been Mr. Hagerman and he’s lived with that every day,” said Annette Miller, Hagerman’s attorney. “He is going to be with a series of treatments and conditions that are going to make certain he is on his medication all the time.”

Maria Lancaster, Hagerman’s sister, said the family was satisfied with the ruling.

“I think we are happy that it is over, within terms of just trying to move on… My brother is not a bad person like the media made him out to be. He is a loving, generous person who unfortunately has mental illness.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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