VALPARAISO — Attorneys for an Ogden Dunes man charged with murdering his elderly mother by burning her alive at their home are claiming he was legally insane at the time of the alleged offense. Defense attorney Bob Harper filed a notice of insanity defense Monday morning on behalf of 69-year-old Frederick Fegely. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa agreed to appoint two mental health professionals to examine Fegely to determine if they believe he meets the criteria for insanity at the time of the offense. If he is found to have been insane, Fegely will be committed to a state hospital until it is determined he no longer poses a danger, at which time he will be released, Harper said. If Fegely is not found to have been insane, the case will proceed forward in normal fashion.
Alexa scheduled a trial in the case for Sept. 18, with preliminary hearings June 30 and Aug. 18. The judge hopes to have the mental evaluations done in time for the June hearing. Fegely, who wore the black-and-white-striped garb of a maximum-security jail inmate, made his initial court appearance Monday after being found competent to aid in his defense. Alexa committed Fegely to the Logansport State Hospital on Oct. 21, 2016, after three psychological evaluations were done, two of which determined he was incompetent to stand trial. Harper said the hospital was able to use medications to bring Fegely back around to competency.
Alexa said he would appoint the same mental health experts to examine Fegely, who carried out the competency reviews last year. Police said in court documents that Fegely killed his mother, Wanda Maxine Wunder, by burning the house they shared in Ogden Dunes on April 16, 2015. Fegely was found to have a flammable liquid on the pajama bottoms he wore after claiming to have fled the fire. Fegely reportedly told police at the time that he was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a smell he did not recognize and opened his bedroom door to discover heavy smoke in the house. He said he attempted to go upstairs to the main level of the house, but retreated out a basement door and to a neighbor’s house when he encountered heat and heavy smoke. Fegely mentioned he was no longer in his mother’s will, but thought his sister would share her portion with him, police said. He also said his mother was very particular about things and did not like his involvement in various religious teachings, police said.