NHP trooper killed, ex-wife of suspect says he was once a chemist

John Dabritz (Nevada Highway Patrol)

Haydee Dabritz said her ex-husband is a mentally ill man with a history of alcoholism who “seemed like he had gone completely off the rails” in recent days.

Reached by phone Friday evening, the woman said she was saddened but not surprised to learn that he had been accused of fatally shooting a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper.

She no longer speaks to her ex-husband, John Dabritz, though she deposits a spousal support check into his bank account once a month. They divorced in 2013. So the woman was puzzled when, a few days ago, she started receiving a stream of rambling emails from him.

“They were definitely strange, incoherent,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It seemed like he had gone completely off the rails.”

Spooked, she deleted most of the messages.

“It’s a sad tale,” Haydee Dabritz said of her ex-husband’s downfall.

The two met in the 1980s while working together at the same research company. Haydee Dabritz, an epidemiologist, said her ex-husband was once a chemist, long before he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

They married in 2002. In the time they were together, Haydee Dabritz said she watched as her husband’s life unraveled following his diagnosis.

“He was pretty stable when he was working. He was so brilliant,” she said. “The problem is, with mental illness, it’s always difficult to keep steady jobs.”

In addition to his mental illness, according to Haydee Dabritz, the man suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has long struggled with alcoholism, and lacks a strong support system. In December, she said, shortly before Christmas, his father died.

“Some people just can’t hold it together,” she said.

At dawn on Friday, authorities say, Sgt. Benjamin Jenkins had stopped to check on a motorist who was pulled over on U.S. Highway 93, north of rural Ely.

The motorist opened fire, according to the Highway Patrol, killing the trooper.

Afterward, the motorist stripped Jenkins of his uniform and fled in his patrol vehicle. Law enforcement searched for four hours before taking John Dabritz, 65, into custody.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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