Son of Teenage Head's Gord Lewis Found Not Criminally Responsible for Guitarist's Death

Jon Lewis was charged with second-degree murder last summer

Photo via @teenage_head_official on Instagram

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 14, 2023

In August 2022, Gord Lewis — guitarist of legendary Hamilton punk band Teenage Head — was found dead in a homicide. His son, 42-year-old Jon Lewis, was charged with second-degree murder in the days that followed.

Jon has since been found not criminally responsible for his father's death, according to a court ruling from late December [via CBC Hamilton]. Forensic psychiatry expert Dr. Joseph Carl Ferencz testified after completing Jon's assessment report during his indefinite incarceration at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, telling the court that the musician's son has had a history of mental illness since the age of 30 and lives with schizophrenic affective disorder.

He had been institutionalized at St. Joseph's multiple times in the years ahead of the killing, but hadn't had psychiatric care in a year before his father's death and wasn't taking medication regularly. Fercenz said Jon had been having progressively severe delusions in the weeks leading up to Gord's death, which caused him to believe people were controlling his dad and that he was poisoning the younger Lewis with anthrax.

According to the doctor, Jon became "extremely distressed and his delusions became all-encompassing" around July 28, and proceeded to make 10 attempts between that day and August 4 to access care at multiple emergency rooms — including three at St. Joseph's — but he reportedly either left prior to assessment or declined a bed in crisis care. He ended up at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on August 1 but was discharged.

Fercenz believes these attempts to get help fed into Jon's delusions, and he began believing that the people trying to kill him were connected to these hospitals. In the week leading up to Gord's death, Jon also sent Brian Lewis — his uncle and Gord's brother — what he described as "desperate pleases for help," bringing his nephew to his home and staying up most of the night together. Brian told CBC that they had decided to visit a clinic the next morning, but Jon had opted to go home instead.

"The last I heard from him was a note from him on Friday [August 5] saying, 'I love you uncle Brian,'" Gord's brother said. "I replied and the next thing was, Sunday [August 7] night, the police showed up at my apartment."

The autopsy report determined Jon had stabbed his father 43 times. Ferencz told the court that The Hamilton Spectator contacted police on August 7 after the younger Lewis sent a chain of incoherent emails to local media stating that his father was dead and decaying. The 42-year-old hadn't left the apartment because of the delusions, which had convinced him that people were plotting to kill him, and didn't call the police because he suspected they may be involved.

Jon's lawyer, Larissa Fedak, told CBC that it will be years before he is discharged.

"We're devastated," Brian said. "There were so many conflicting emotions and thoughts. … We miss [Gord] and Jonny." He and his wife are now driven to raise mental health awareness.

"If someone lives with someone who experiences and opens up about any mental health illness, take it seriously. Learn about it, talk to the person, research so you can educate yourself and advocate for that person," he continued. "When doing so, don't stop pushing, and when you think you've given up, you think you've exhausted yourself, you take one more step … because you just don't know what the other person is going through."

Latest Coverage