Man Accused of Murdering Mother, Stabbing Stepfather in Amesbury Held Without Bail

John Brittan, 27, of Amesbury is facing charges of murder, assault and battery and assault with intent to murder

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A Massachusetts man accused of murdering his mother and stabbing his stepfather at a home in Amesbury over the weekend faced a judge on Monday.

John Brittan, 27, of Amesbury, was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Monday in Newburyport District Court where he was charged with murder, assault and battery on a person over 60 and assault with intent to murder.

Police had arrived at a home on Chester Street at about 4 p.m. for a report of a stabbing and discovered two victims.

Sixty-five-year-old Barbara Diehl-Peirce was airlifted to Boston Medical Hospital where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Essex County District Attorney's office.

Her 65-year-old husband, Edmund Peirce, is recovering from his non-life threatening injuries at Portsmouth Hospital, authorities said.

Investigators say Brittan stabbed his mother and stepfather with a small knife inside the home after a homemade gun did not work. He then ran away barefoot, covered in blood and feces.

Brittan's father told NBC10 Boston that his son suffers from schizophrenia and doesn't use medication for the illness. He also said his son lives with his mother in Amesbury. Brittan suffers from paranoid delusions and spent time in a hospital for treatment.

"He is demonstrating deficits in his rational understanding the charges against him," Dr. Kerry Nelligan, psychologist, said to a judge Monday.

Court documents say Brittan told police that his "'alleged mother' had kidnapped him and tried to poison him in the past." Brittan also told police that he was "friends with Donald Trump" and claimed to be of Royal descent and related to Queen Elizabeth.

Neighbors are still in shock over the incident.

Police descended upon Chester Street in Amesbury, Massachusetts, late Saturday afternoon after two people were stabbed.

"It's terribly sad. It's horrific," said neighbor Edith Maxwell. "I believe there hasn't been a murder in Amesbury since 2004."

The judge ordered Brittan to be held without bail and to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. It is unclear at this time if he is competent to stand trial for murder.

Brittan is due back in court on March 20.

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