GILBERT, Ariz. — It was supposed to be moving day. But instead of moving into a new apartment, Christopher Lambeth would leave his group home, Tilda Manor, in the back of a police car, under arrest for murder.
New records from Gilbert police show that Tilda Manor staff members told officers Lambeth was scheduled to leave the behavioral health facility at 11 a.m. the morning of the murder.
That plan changed as soon as the police were called to the residence around 5 a.m. after a staff member called 911. The two staff members on shift at that time told the officers they went outside to get away from Lambeth, who they claimed was threatening to hurt them, and got locked out.
When they called 911 and asked for police, they didn't tell the operator to send an ambulance. By the time police got there, officers found another resident dead inside the home. Lambeth was arrested on scene for killing that resident and admitted to police that he "bludgeoned him to death."
"I was shocked," said Edmond Mosima, a former Tilda Manor employee. "I've worked with him. He was respectful. He did everything he was supposed to do."
Lambeth had previously been convicted in 2007 for murdering his grandparents. He was sentenced to 25 to life at the state hospital for treatment, but the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board ruled in 2017 he could live in a group home. Police records now show he lived at the Tilda Manor location on Wildhorse Drive in Gilbert from at least 2018 until his arrest.
"I would say before the incident when we talk about people responding to treatment, I would say he was doing great," Mosima explained.
Mosima, who said he worked for Tilda Manor up until 2020, never remembered Lambeth causing any trouble.
"There were no warning signs because all his time there he’d never been aggressive," he shared.
Another former employee, who asked to remain anonymous, backs that up.
"He would you out," she told 12 News. "He would help you in the morning to do breakfast for the other clients."
Former staff members tell 12 News it is common for group home residents to "step-down" to a more independent facility or care plan if their treatment is going well at the behavioral health facility.
Police records show he was supposed to be discharged at 11 a.m. the morning of the murder, but officers found he hadn’t packed anything when they searched his room.
Police interviews also revealed Lambeth was showing signs of depression in the months leading up to the murder.
A state investigation found that the two employees on shift didn't follow protocol that morning when they left Lambeth inside with eight other residents. In June, Arizona's Department of Health Services issued 23 citations to Tilda Manor stemming from an investigation into the facility after Lambeth's arrest.
Some citations detail that staff wasn’t properly trained to handle situations where residents displayed signs of crisis or meet the needs of those living at the facility, which is licensed as a behavioral health facility. In the incident with Lambeth, a surveyor found the two employees did not try to calm Lambeth or de-escalate the situation.
ADHS is now trying to revoke Tilda Manor’s license at the Wildhorse Drive location. Tilda Manor's asked for a hearing next month to contest this. Meanwhile, they're still allowed to operate that location along with their four other locations in the East Valley.
For the past four months, Tilda Manor has not answered any questions from 12 News. The I-Team learned Thursday evening that Christopher Lambeth obtained a new attorney. We weren't able to reach him for comment.
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