Documents show Dave Dahl’s ‘psychotic episode’

Dave Dahl was arrested in November 2013, and his lawyer said it was a "mental health crisis"

Dave's Killer Bread founder Dave Dahl during an interview at the KOIN studios, Oct. 9, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Dave's Killer Bread founder Dave Dahl during an interview at the KOIN studios, Oct. 9, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — “I have a friend who I’ve called for a mental health evaluation but I don’t think they are going to get here in time and he keeps trying to leave and he is having a psychotic episode as best I can tell.”

It was just after 10 p.m. on November 14, 2013.

The person talking was Beth McShane, a good friend of Dave Dahl, founder of Dave’s Killer Bread.

Dave Dahl, the founder of Dave's Killer Bread, in a Washington County courtroom, November 2013 (KOIN 6 News, file)
Dave Dahl, the founder of Dave’s Killer Bread, in a Washington County courtroom, November 2013 (KOIN 6 News, file)

She was inside her home in Northwest Portland and she was on the phone with a 911 operator.

Before the night was over, Dahl would be on his way to jail after having a run-in with deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Dahl had rammed his car into theirs, had found himself Tasered and punched.

“Two officers had their guns pointed at him, were prepared to shoot him, and would have done so if it weren’t for the fact that they were in other’s line of fire,” Dahl’s attorney, Stephen Houze, would write in court papers.

The papers paint a picture of Dahl’s descent into madness over the weeks leading up to the event.

Houze includes interviews with people close to Dahl who describe him becoming increasingly – and inexplicably – manic and unpredictable.

It was only after his arrest that an explanation became apparent.

Medical examination

Dahl was evaluated by doctors and – according to Houze – “he was diagnosed upon admission and at the time of discharge, for the first time in his life, as suffering from Bipolar 1 with a severe manic episode, and with psychotic features.”

Dahl’s girlfriend, Michelle Bain, told investigators that she felt he had “needed a mental health evaluation for years” and that he sometimes “exhibited mood swings and paranoia.”

Dave Dahl, center, is taken into custody to face more charges related to a November 2013 incident. He faces more than a dozen charges, Feb. 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Dave Dahl, center, is taken into custody to face more charges related to a November 2013 incident. He faces more than a dozen charges, Feb. 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Bain said that they had been having trouble in their relationship but the first week of November they reconciled while he was on a trip to Utah.

She had picked him up at the airport on November 5 and things seemed OK. Dahl “became focused on being busy and getting things done.”

Within a couple of days, though, she saw things deteriorating.

By Sunday, “he began displaying manic behavior,” according to the investigator who interviewed Bain.

“Michelle Bain stated that beginning on Tuesday, November 12, Dahl began talking non-stop about spiritual enlightenment,” according to the investigator.  “By Wednesday he wanted to share the message of spiritual enlightenment with others. Dahl thought he was more enlightened than Jesus. Bain became confused about what was happening.

“Dahl told her that he had a spiritual experience at the Dollar Store and that he should be able to drink because he is spirit and has no form.”

The day of the arrest

Thursday morning, Dahl woke up just after 6 a.m. and was “wired,” according to Bain.

She tried to get him to relax and he told her she was wrong and needed spiritual enlightenment. He was calling friends and telling them they needed to quit their jobs. She left him, having an appointment that morning. Dahl told her he was going to buy sunglasses and had an appointment at the bakery.

Later that morning, she got a call letting her know Dahl had gotten into trouble at the bakery.

She found him at home. Things were getting worse. She thought he was “mentally off.”

Dave Dahl in a Facetime interview with KOIN 6 News, June 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Dave Dahl in a Facetime interview with KOIN 6 News, June 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Dahl told her that he had escaped the police at the bakery and that “he was creating something big and life changing and talked about Jesus.”

“She knew something was wrong with Dahl,” the investigator wrote. “He repeated non-stop, ‘yes, no, go.’ Dahl said that he needed his mind to be quiet and held his head.”

Dahl was driving at first and Bain was scared. She didn’t know what he was going to do, she told the investigator. He was talking about driving into a tree to see what happened, driving off a bridge to see what happened.

She wanted him to go see a doctor but he refused, saying he didn’t need one. Finally, Bain convinced him that they should go to the home of their friends, Bill and Beth McShane.

They arrived around 6:30 that evening.

Dave “continued to exhibit psychotic behavior,” Bain told the investigator adding that at some point “Dave started wanting to leave and everyone became increasingly concerned.”

At 7:30 p.m., Beth McShane called the county’s mental health services hotline while Bill tried to talk with Dahl who was saying things like, “I want Dave to come back.”

Beth didn’t give her name the first time she called. She spoke hypothetically and was told that she had a couple of options: a mental health person could come out, they could bring him to a hospital or they could have the police come out. The police would assess him and possibly bring him to a hospital.

Beth talked with her husband and Bain. They decided having a mental health person come out would be the best way to go.

Bain would later say that Beth told her she was concerned Dave had lost touch with reality and didn’t even know who he was. They were all trying to figure out how to get him help.

Around 9 p.m. Dave was growing increasingly unstable, demanding alcohol and getting louder.

At 9:15 p.m. Beth again called the crisis line. She was told it would be between 30 and 60 minutes before someone could come out.

Dave, meanwhile, was apparently growing more paranoid and fixated on going back home.

Beth would say that Dahl was “very unbalanced on every level.” She said he was trying to quiet his brain, that he started to eat grapes and threw them on the floor.

“Am I Jesus?” she heard him ask himself. “Am I the devil? Am I Dave?”

At some point, Dahl poured a bottle of water over Bain’s head, soaking himself in the process.

Just before 10 p.m., Dahl got the keys to the car and headed out the door. Beth called 911.

He was arrested about an hour later.

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