By Nick Stamatakis

Just a look at the photo of Peter Zisopoulos, 34, an Astoria resident, is enough to tell you that this person is mentally ill.  You will read the news below from NY Post, and it is certainly a big tragedy: Zisopoulos stabbed 20 times (!!) FDNY Lt Alison Russo-Elling, in the middle of the day, just a block or two away from his home.  The FDNY Lt was just 6 months away from retirement… You can link here for some of the details of his arrest...

Please allow me a couple of notes on mental illness, both in general and as related to our community.

  1. As most of you know, most “homeless” people are either mentally ill or suffer from drug addiction – or both.  People in the most severe categories must be identified and removed from society when there is no family to take care of them and administer the necessary medicine regularly. In New York, such was the case until 1996, when the corrupt politicians of NY State decided to close down major psychiatric hospitals on the pretense that they were unnecessary and that there were medical drugs that could help them live a normal life.  One of these centers is a few miles away from my base on Long Island, and I have personal knowledge of the situation.  I am referring to Kings Park Psychiatric Center, which is now closed.  When it closed in 1996, it had enough building space to house three times the current homeless population of NYC.  Please link here and look at the now abandoned facilities overlooking Long Island Sound, in a truly majestic area… If you know nothing about its past, you may think it used to be a hotel or vacation spot… And yet the corrupt politicians abandoned it and let the “homeless” roam the NYC streets and subways.  Are they thinking of re-opening it after re-constructing the now uninhabitable buildings? No chance… “Developers” are gathering like crows around Albany to grab this beautiful piece of land for pennies on the dollar… And “non-profits” are profiting “bigly” from the scheme of “supporting the homeless”… Zisopoulos and other mentally ill people belong to places like this; in earlier times, they used to be called “sanatoriums”…
  2. We Greek-Americans have to take this opportunity to contemplate our ethnic roots and mental illness.  This goes back to ancient times, of course… Does anyone remember Sigmund Freud’s most famous book, “Introduction to Psychoanalysis”? It’s filled with ancient Greek examples, theories, ideas, and concepts. But let me tease you a bit more: What do you think is the first word of Homer’s Iliad?  It is the word “μήνις” (pronounced “menis”), which means “anger”… Homer was describing Achilles’s anger… And now you know where “mania” came from… Yes, Peter Zisopoulos has been described in today’s news as a “maniac,” stabbing the old lady 20 times…
  3. But in the age of DNA stories, when we know our origins go back at least 3-4,000 years, and they are tied to a specific “population pool”, shouldn’t we rethink our DNA make-up? We keep one-sidedly touting our – certainly exceptional – intelligence, which no doubt we can easily detect in many of our children. I can write books about our “Greek brains” and the genesis of mathematics and all science; Yes, we are a bit “smarter” than other ethnicities – no doubt at all. And we have the statistics to prove it.  But don’t we recognize the proverbial truth that “high intelligence and mental illness are just a few steps apart”?  Please watch the wonderful film “A Beautiful Mind”, about a famous mathematician struggling with schizophrenia (another significant Greek word…)
  4. Then, when you think about our DNA make-up, we have many reasons to be concerned: Our past as an ethnic group during these 4,000 years has certain important trends that we have to consider as suspicious factors in mental illness.  A prime example is migration. From the mythical times of Odysseus, Greek families lived apart for prolonged periods of time.  Don’t we think that thousands of years of habitual migration and separation left their mark on our DNA in some form of “inscribed” depression – at the minimum? About 30% of all our folk songs and literature, starting with “Odyssey” talk about migration another third is about love, and the rest talk about death… Trust me, these ratios are very different in other ethnic groups.  Then add to the “Odysseus” story four thousand years of barbaric foreign invasions, resulting in catastrophic wars and killings, several more civil wars over the centuries and prolonged periods of famine, and oh… I left out the horrendous earthquakes and volcanic explosions which destroyed our first civilization in Crete, 3,500 years ago… And shook Athens to its foundations with a 7.2 earthquake as late as 1981… My friends, we should be very sensitive and ready to recognize the signs of mental illness among us quickly.  Other ethnicities have their special concerns when it comes to mental illness.  But the right thing is to accept the above facts and be ready to recognize the signs, and ask for help when we see a problem…

Stigmatizing mental illness is not the right way. Peter Zisopoulos is described as a “loner”… He shouldn’t be.  He should have around him people who cared and could offer a helping hand.  If his family was not around, the Church and the community should have approached him… For goodness sake, he lives only blocks away from several Astoria Churches… If our churches were focused on ministry instead of personal promotion and money-making, Peter would have found help a long time ago…

Time for all of us to look in the mirror…



Suspect Peter Zisopoulous charged with murder in stabbing of FDNY Lt. Alison Russo-Elling: cops

The maniac who allegedly stabbed veteran FDNY T Lt. Alison Russo-Elling to death in an unprovoked Queens attack has been charged with murder, cops said Friday.

Peter Zisopoulous, 34, also faces a weapon possession charge in connection to the senseless attack on the 61-year-old paramedic, who was stabbed more than 20 times at 20th Avenue and 41st Street in Astoria around 2:20 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Zisopoulous followed Russo-Elling before slamming her to the ground, mounting her and relentlessly stabbing her, according to police sources and sickening video of the deadly attack.

Peter Zisopoulous, 34, was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection to the deadly unprovoked attack.
Peter Zisopoulous, 34, was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection to the deadly unprovoked attack.

A witness confronted the madman, but he snarled, “F–k you, f–k you!” before stepping away from his victim and charging at the scooter-riding pedestrian while still holding the knife, police sources said.

The victim — whose injuries included a deep, lethal wound to the chest — was left unresponsive on the ground after her callous attacker ran off, according to sources and the video.

Zisopoulous allegedly mounted the 61-year-old victim and stabbed her repeatedly, video shows.
Zisopoulous allegedly mounted the 61-year-old victim and stabbed her repeatedly, video shows.
The NYPD arrest a man (dark hair/glasses) at 40-19 20th ave., Queens, after he stabbed an EMS LT who died upon arrival at the hospital.
Police were able to talk Zisopoulous down from his barricaded apartment.
Matthew McDermott for NY Post
The NYPD respond to 40-19 20th ave., Queens, where a man barricaded himself inside after stabbing an EMS LT who died upon arrival at the hospital.
Russo-Elling was months away from retirement, a colleague told reporters.
Matthew McDermott for NY Post

He was busted after he was chased by a good Samaritan and barricaded himself inside his nearby apartment, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said Thursday.

Police were able to talk him down and take him into custody on the third floor of the apartment.

Russo-Elling had gone to grab food when Zisopoulous allegedly stabbed her in what authorities said was a random and completely unprovoked attack.

“At this point in the investigation there doesn’t appear to have been any prior contact between them,” an FDNY source said. “He just walked toward her, sped up and then stabbed her to death.”

Russo-Elling was a 25-year veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001.
Russo-Elling was a 25-year veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001.
Facebook/Alison Russo

Russo-Elling — a 25-year veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001 — was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition but could not be saved, police said.

She “was about six or seven months away from retirement,” Vincent Variale, president of Local 3621, told reporters outside the hospital where Russo-Elling succumbed to her injuries. “She was talking about it.”

FDNY Acting Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called Russo-Elling’s death “heartbreaking,” adding she was stabbed in a “barbaric and completely unprovoked attack.”

“We lost one of our heroes,” Mayor Eric Adams said during a press briefing.

Members of the FDNY salute their fallen colleague, Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, 61.
Members of the FDNY salute their fallen colleague, Lt. Alison Russo-Elling, 61.
Lineup at Mount Sinai Hospital in queens wear an EMT passed away from her injuries, sustained during an attack at a bodega this afternoon in Astoria.
Russo-Elling worked out of Station 49 in Astoria.

What do you think? Post a comment.

Russo-Elling worked out of Station 49 in Astoria and lived on Long Island.

She joined the FDNY as an EMT in March 1998 and was promoted to a paramedic in 2002 before becoming a lieutenant in 2016.

Paramedics have a higher level of education than EMTs and are able to perform more complex procedures, including administering medication to patients and inserting IV lines.

Russo-Elling worked out of numerous EMS stations through her career, including Station 20, Station 17, Station 16, Station 45, Queens Tactical Response Group and Station 49.


  1. Yes, the church is always there to help those in need. A hospital for the soul. However, the church community must realize they are a ‘church family, ‘ and as such should let the priest or clergy know when ‘family members’ or fellow Orthodox Christians are in need of help and/or a church ministry. They need to work together, rely on each other when the going gets tough. The priest cannot possible know everything… unless you tell him.

  2. The fall of the Empire will bring more murder and mayhem as the global reserve currency withers away. Prepare to see much more violence.
    Certainly, they could have reopened Pilgrim State Hospital a few years ago. Pilgrim State Hospital was once a huge city within itself that housed the mentally ill. But would the mentally ill be abused and experimented upon? There will be more and more homeless on our streets in the coming winter months as things collapse. What will we do?

  3. Mental illness is a demonic force – it comes from the evil one — a holy enlightened human being aka a Saint, never suffers any mental disorder…

    Memory Eternal to the angel he killed for she died giving of herself!

    • With all due respect, are you familiar with the lives of the saints? They suffered. Greatly. St. Therese of Lisieux suffered severe emotional and mental distress. St. John of the Cross – for whom the “Dark Night of the Soul” is referenced, suffered greatly spiritually. St. Anthony the Great was tormented by demons. Most recently, after her passing into eternity, – Mother Teresa’s diaries were found and filled with mental anguish and torment that she was serving the Lord but felt separated from intimacy with God. “A holy enlightened human being” is one who has suffered greatly – otherwise they would not become burned, remolded, transformed, and transmuted in the furnace of God’s love. We are born broken. God makes us whole. The lives of the saints are a living testimony to not only great suffering, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – but to God’s love, mercy, and healing. Was it St. Ambrose who said: “The closer we come to the Lord the greater will the attacks be upon our spirit.” Who does Satan and his demonic legions target? The ones who love and serve the Lord. The most holy are the many times the most tormented. Not only do they suffer mentally – they suffer physically – aka St. Padre Pio who had the stigmata in five places for over fifty years. Even our Lord and Savior was distressed and alone in the Garden of Gethsemene and on the cross cried out to His Father: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” (Matthew 27:46). “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope;” (Romans 5:3). “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). There are many crosses that Christ’s disciple’s carry. The saints suffered. We suffer. But with Christ – even in our suffering – there can be joy. (2 Corinthians 12:10).

      • You’re mistaken — yes saints were tortured by demons all the time just like this angelic woman got murdered by a clearly demon possessed creature! But she herself was not at all a mental case.

        Being attacked externally is radically different than “being” mentally deranged!
        I repeat:

        No Illumined Saint Was
        Ever Mentally Twisted.

        An enlightened human who reaches THEOSIS is a perfected new Adam or new Eve & before they reach Theosis, yes they can suffer emotionally as we all do — being alive in a fallen world guarantees suffering.

        • “Mental case, mentally deranged, and mentally twisted” are derogatory terms referring to mental illness. There is stigma enough for those with mental illness. We do not use the same language when referring to those with cancer or horrible physical illnesses. If you believe that mental illness is demonic in origin – then so is physical illness as Jesus 26 times in scripture healed by calling out the demonic. I took a course on the Healing Ministry of Jesus that was Bible based. We are to have mercy and compassion for the suffering with our language and actions.

          Every single Orthodox Christian is called to reach Theosis, It is the very core of the faith walk and journey. We are also all called saints and called to be saints in scripture. We can argue ad infinitum on what constitutes mental illness. Certainly, saints historically have practiced – self-flagellation, self-harm, self-mortification, hair shirts, and self-mutilation – some or all of these practices have included but limited to: St. Francis, St. Dominic, and St. Francis De Saled and Athonite Monks. All these practices are classified in the spectrum of mental illness by today’s standards.

  4. An Angel on earth and now one in heaven….. may God take her soul and alleviate the pain and suffering of her family. We must pray for them, including for the young man who obviously needed help.

    Lord have mercy…..🙏🏻

  5. Memory eternal to Alison Russo-Elling. This is a horrific tragedy for all involved. Thank you for bringing many issues to light:

    A few thoughts:
    1 – As a Greek American, we are all indebted to the beautiful riches, creative, cultural, artistic, and academic bequeathed to humanity throughout history by our ancestors. We are all called to be good stewards of our gifts and honor our shared heritage. As Greek Americans, we are also blessed by the gifts given to us by all other cultures and peoples throughout time. However, everyone is a child of God, and everyone is given talents by God. (Matthew 25:14-30, Ephesians 2:10, James 1:17). There are many factors that lead one to utilizing their God given gifts and talents. There are also many life circumstances that prohibit one from fulfilling their talents and gifts. No ethnic, racial, or inherited DNA is any superior nor inferior to anyone else’s – intellectually or otherwise. This is a very slippery and dangerous slope. As a child of God, I cannot accept such a proposition. Ref: Psalm 139:14.

    2 – There is addiction and mental illness in the homeless population. There is also addiction and mental illness outside the homeless population across our nation. There are many reasons and causes for being without home – including job loss, catastrophic illness, financial strain, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, divorce, lack of familial support, prior incarceration. We must be careful when making generalizations about the suffering. Also, the Western Medical Model likes to separate the body from the soul. Yet, we know as Christians that we are whole beings. Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Also, “The enemy (thief) comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). This is spiritual warfare. Every day we must armor up as instructed by St. Paul in Corinthians. This man Peter is obviously a deeply tormented and troubled soul.

    2 – The Orthodox Church envisions itself as a “hospital for the soul” or the “sick”. We need to start claiming healing in Jesus’ name and start saying that we are “God’s House for Healing.” We don’t go to God’s Holy House to stay sick – anymore than you go to a hospital to stay sick. Jesus is the Master Physician of our souls and bodies. We readily claim our brokenness – we need to start claiming our healing and wholeness in Jesus’ name. We are to lay hands and heal in Jesus’ name (scripture). Other churches have healing nights of prayer. They know how to pray. They are taught how to pray. They know God’s Word. They know scripture. They identify as prayer warriors. They serve God’s children (Matthew 25:35). Orthodox Christians need to learn God’s Word – and have prayer groups – and learn how to be prayer warriors. “The Word of God is the sword of the spirit.” Hebrews 4:12. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When someone says: “Can you pray with me? Can you pray for me? Do you know how to pray?” We should answer: “Yes!” Let us believe the God’s Word – and the words of our holy monastics – and bring our prayer into our hearts.

    4 – Jesus came for the broken. He came for the lost sheep. He left the “99 to find the 1.” So should we. The Archdiocese initiated the M.O.R.E. program to fight opioid addiction. Announcements went to the churches. I saw it once and never again. I called the Archdiocese office in NYC to volunteer and be involved and they were so disorganized – they sent me no materials or further information even after two more phone calls.

    5 – The truth? This is about mental illness. This is about sickness. This is about crime. This is about violence. It is also about something else – a root so insidious, so deep, so ancient, destructive, and deceitful, and many times unseen – that feeds the branches of tragedy and trauma. Evil.

      • Sir Gatanas – not once, not once on any of these forums have I ever name-called you nor used inflammatory language. Nor made baseless accusations and assumptions against you. Your language is unkind and unnecessary. I was not arguing for or against the death penalty. In fact, my comment had absolutely nothing to do with the death penalty. I was speaking specifically to the issue of homelessness in general.

        However, if you would like to discuss the death penalty, the Orthodox Church and our faith is both pro-life and against the death penalty. We believe in supporting and defending life and the sanctity of life on both accounts. This is the Orthodox Christian position. My faith is not political. Nor is my mercy. It is Orthodox Christian.

        I do not argue against the fact that this act and violence was evil. I even stated that in my point number five. However, just as we are told in scripture – when Jesus questioned the demon possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes- in Mark 5:9 – “Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” Reference my point 2 – which speaks to evil and spiritual warfare. Executing one man does not stop evil – evil is legion.

        My most beloved cousin was murdered shortly after spending Thanksgiving at my parents’ home. Neither me nor my parents supported the death penalty. Reference the aforementioned reasons.

        Again, I have been nothing but respectful to you. If you cannot converse without personal attack – then I am asking you to refrain from addressing me in the future on my comments and on my articles. I do not deserve nor condone disrespect nor ugliness from anyone.

  6. Addition to my comment: In lieu of the tragedy of Hurricane Ian – and the millions affected – natural catastrophe is another reason why people become homeless. I became homeless the night that vandals poured our home with gasoline and set it on fire – burning it to the ground. We escaped with the clothes on our back and barefoot because they wasn’t even time to put on shoes before the house blew up.

    • Ok – where’s the logic??
      Hurricane victims are not out murdering…
      homelessness has nothing to do with it
      & this guy had a home –
      & ran hiding knowing he did wrong;
      if others get death penalty why not Peter?

      • The death penalty should be reserved for those who consciously commit such crimes. With the few things we know, Peter had no consciousness for his actions. We learned today that Peter is a diagnosed schizophrenic… In the court of law he would have a very well substantiated defense – the so-called “insanity defense”. The death penalty should be reserved for the state senators and assemblymen like Mike Giannaris and others who – instead of providing a proper enclosed environment for such extreme cases like Peter’s, closed down psychiatric institutions in the same way that they close down prisons. Peter should have NEVER been allowed to walk freely among the public.

        • Yes I get it… shame on political Mike Giannaris crowd for closing down mental institutions – they’ve special place reserved in hell

  7. He needed to be institutionalized and no absolutely no democrat would have fessed up to this–instead they let them roam to carry out the sickness acts upon… Shame all democrats –shame… If we place just one vote for any dem– what are we thinking? It’s all about them and power and votes..

  8. Nearly all formerly illegal drugs seem to trigger schizophrenia, alcoholism triggers Korzakov dementia, steroids cause mania and depression, football injuries lead to dementia. They were born with good brains but destroyed them, maybe they do need negative social credits to donate organs. Jack Kemp’s HUD found homelessness was caused by deinstitutionalization, zoning and rent control. It all started with Jimmy Carter, whose sister-in-law was institutionalized and he felt that was bad, so they let them out. Mario Cuomo pushed it heavily because he wanted us to feel guilty over Reagan’s tax cuts. . Calling them homeless loses half the battle rhetorically – they lack sanity not homes. Homeless predominantly suffer from schizophrenic hallucinations, some genetic, some cause by disease, other brain burnt from drugs. Meds may help them, but if they accidentally fall off their meds, the wander. So implant an RFID tag on them as well as a clozapene infusion pump. During the plague, unemployment became a crime, because of dearth of workers, thereafter vagabonds were prosecuted and indentured, which is why drunks were scooped off city streets and shipped to America and Australia. Now, we should send them to colonize Mars.


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