LARGO — A supervised visit between a mother and son at a psychiatrist's office turned into a scene of carnage Saturday morning.
Police say the woman pulled out two knives and began slashing at her 15-year-old son, ripping open his abdomen, slicing his neck and wounding his forehead. He ran bleeding from the office and collapsed in the lobby.
Celeste Minardi, 55, of Dunedin was taken into custody on charges of attempted murder and carrying a concealed weapon Saturday morning. Her son, Bradley Driscoll, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center.
Police confiscated an ornamental dagger and a drywall knife, Sgt. Mark Young said.
The attack occurred while Minardi was meeting her son, during court-ordered visitation at a doctor's office, Young said.
Minardi is the ex-wife of Timothy Driscoll, Gulfport's longtime city attorney and until recently the city attorney for St. Pete Beach. The couple wed in 1984 and divorced in 2005, with Driscoll getting custody of their son, court records show. A mediation agreement gave Minardi the right to regular supervised visits.
About 10 a.m., Driscoll dropped his son off at the offices of Dr. Ronald Knaus and Associates, 1301 Seminole Blvd., for a regularly scheduled visit with Driscoll's ex-wife, Young said.
No one in the family was being treated by Knaus, a psychiatrist and osteopath who bills himself as the "Energy Doc," or by the three other doctors who share that space. Instead Knaus' office is a neutral site for divorced parents to have supervised visits with their children, Young said.
When Minardi arrived, she and her son sat on a couch while the nurse supervising the visit sat at a desk nearby typing on a computer, Young said. At first everything seemed fine as Minardi pulled from her purse a bottle of cologne and a deck of playing cards, apparently intended as gifts for her son for Easter, Young said.
But then she pulled out the two knives and began attacking the teenager, he said.
"It was completely unprovoked," the sergeant said.
The attack, using a 15 1/2-inch ornamental dagger and a 12-inch drywall knife, left Minardi's son with a stab wound to his abdomen and slashes on the right side of his neck and on his forehead, Young said.
No criminal history
As the teenager collapsed in the lobby, the nurse dialed 911 and one of the doctors, psychologist Gerard Boutin, ordered Minardi to drop her weapons, Young said. She did. The 911 call came in at 10:19 a.m., he said.
Minardi, who gave an address of 1202 Fairway Drive in Dunedin, was being held with no bail at the Pinellas County Jail. Her arrest report says she is unemployed, and the phone number she gave has been disconnected.
State records show she was a licensed practical nurse, but her license expired last year.
She filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy three months ago, listing assets worth $210,000 and liabilities of more than $241,000. She said her checking account held only $80 and for cash on hand she listed just $20. Her sole source of income: the $3,600 Driscoll paid her every month as alimony. Among her creditors: Dr. Knaus.
She has no prior criminal history, according to police and court records. Young said she made no statements to the officers who arrested her.
Paramedics rushed the teenager to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was being treated for life-threatening injuries, Young said. The stab wound to the boy's abdomen punctured his intestines and nearly hit his spleen, he said.
A hospital spokeswoman said no information about his condition is being released at the request of the family.
Young said that when Driscoll heard what had happened after he dropped his son off, the lawyer was so distraught he could not give police a statement.
Driscoll could not be reached for comment.
He has served as the city attorney in Gulfport since 1990. In December he resigned after three years as St. Pete Beach's city attorney when city commissioners said they no longer trusted his legal advice. He has also provided legal services to the Pinellas County Mayors Council and represented city commissioners in Pinellas Park and Redington Beach.
Neither Knaus nor Boutin responded to calls seeking comment. Dr. Boutin previously made the news in 2002 in connection with one of Tampa Bay's most notorious animal cruelty cases. The psychologist testified about the mental disorders of one of the men who pleaded guilty to a fatal bow-and-arrow attack on a purebred bull at a ranch in Odessa. The same defendant was also convicted of sodomizing and killing an adult llama and brutally attacking a baby llama.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.