Waseca teen sentenced to mental health treatment in Georgia

John LaDue was escorted from the Waseca County Courthouse back to jail on Monday, where he is expected to remain for a few more weeks before getting transferred to a secure treatment facility in the state of Georgia. The out-of-state treatment is part of a plea deal that brings to a close the 18-month case that has captivated the small town of Waseca, Minn.

“He’s looking forward to the next step in his life,” defense attorney Dawn Johnson said. “He is a young man who is looking forward to his future. He has been in custody a long time.”

LaDue had threatened to terrorize his family and blow up Waseca High School. The teen had amassed an arsenal of ammunition and explosives, plotting his attack inside a local storage facility.

A concerned witness alerted police, and LaDue was arrested in April of last year. He subsequently admitted to his murderous plot, but the case took twists and turns as it worked its way through the courts.

Medical experts diagnosed LaDue with autism spectrum disorder, with a fixation on violence. Prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that included one guilty count of possessing an explosive device. In exchange, LaDue goes away to a highly-specialized, secure treatment program at what’s called Devereux in the state of Georgia.

Eventually, LaDue will be released to a halfway house before returning to society under a potential 10-year probationary period.

LaDue’s family left the courthouse without commenting. The 18-year-old’s attorneys are hoping the future treatment and supervision is the right formula.

“Is there hope for him to come back into society safely? I think so,” Johnson said. “Now that he has been diagnosed. That’s the first step in treating and giving him the social skills that nobody knew was lacking until this event.”