HOUSTON The man accused of stabbing his mother to death in their home near River Oaks is undergoing psychiatric evaluation while his neighborhood tries to cope with a stunning loss.

Neighbors describe John Shank, 20, as a young man who suffered from deep mental health problems.

Police said Shank got into an argument with his mother on Wednesday at their home in the 3700 block of Overbrook Lane. It soon turned into a physical fight, detectives said.

According to court documents read aloud at Shank s probable cause hearing Thursday, his mother, Nancy Shank, suffered multiple stab wounds to her shoulder and neck.

Neighbors heard screaming and entered the house through the back door, according to court documents, and they saw John Shank walk past them, covered in blood.

He was arrested an hour later on the Katy Freeway. His father had convinced him to surrender.

The family is grief stricken, said Rev. Larry Hall, the victim s pastor at St. John the Divine.

Hall was scheduled to meet with the Nancy Shank s husband on Thursday and he wanted his congregation to remember the graceful life she led not the violent way it ended.

Hall said she was very active in the church s Bible study group.

Nancy always seemed to have a smile on her face when I d see her, he said.

Harris County health professionals said the tragedy is an unfortunate example of how mental illness can tear apart families.

Mental illness affects about 1 in 5 persons, said Dr. Daryl Knox with MHMRA, the mental health organization in Harris County. About 1 in 5 can have someone in their family with mental illness.

Neighbors said Shank had just dropped out of the University of Texas where he played lacrosse. They said he attempted suicide just weeks ago.

It really is hard for people that haven t experienced it to believe that the mind can play tricks on you like that, Knox said.

Nancy Shank s husband is an attorney and his firm released a statement late Thursday.

Dan Shank is a leader and a well-respected member of the Coats Rose law firm, and we believe our role as a firm is to be as supportive as possible to Dan and his family during this difficult period, the statement read. We request that everyone join us in respecting the family s privacy.

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