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Tennessee woman who rammed White House gates suffers from mental illness, family says

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 19:52:07-05

Family members of a Tennessee woman accused of ramming a security barrier at the White House said she is mentally ill and needs treatment.

Jessica Ford went before a judge Thursday after police in Washington, DC said she plowed into the White House fencing and was immediately taken into custody by the Secret Service.

It was Ford's fourth and most dramatic effort to gain access to the White House in recent months. She was charged with three felonies.

The question of why Ford did what she did was no mystery. Her family said she suffers from a mental illness and that they actually warned the Secret Service last week that Ford, armed with a BB gun, was again headed for the White House.

The 35-year-old insists her children live in the White House, and told the judge in court that her fiance is the President. 

"She is very delusional. She thinks her children are in the White House. That's why she keeps going up there," said Victoria Walls, Fords' cousin.

In Ford's most recent attempt to get to the White House, she thought it was the holiday season.

"She decided when she left (last week) it was Christmas Eve, and I got to be there by Christmas Day," said her mother Alice Wilson. 

Authorities were watching for Ford since her family called to warn them that she was in route with plans to ram a gate.

"I said you can't go do that. They will kill you," said Walls.

Ford still went and the Secret Service was waiting.

"I think that's the reason they didn't kill her, because they knew she was coming and knew she had a BB gun," said Wilson.

Ford faces felonies and possibly years in prison.

"Oh, I love her with all my heart," said Wilson. 

She said her daughter needs help. Ford's cousin said it all could be prevented if Ford could get mental health treatment.

Walls said after each arrest before this latest one "...Ttey take her in for 72 hours to a week and let her out..." allowing her to be back at it again.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said lack of treatment in cases like this is the real issue.

"Until you arrest the real issue, and it's not the person it's illness or addiction, then you'll see people keep doing this," Hall said.

Ford may go to prison or, based on her mental health issues, she could again be released. She would then return home to La Vergne, Tennessee with her children, who doesn't really believe are hers.

Ford will likely again be able plot another visit to the White House.

"They know she has mental problems, but they don't give her help," said Walls.

They could give her time behind bars. If convicted, of the three felony counts for ramming the White House barrier Ford could face up to 40 years in prison.