PITTSFIELD — For three and a half months, questions about the mental state of a Pittsfield arson suspect held up his return to Massachusetts, forcing the governors of two states to get involved.
But with paperwork for a governor's warrant now complete, Phillip J. Jordan is expected to be returned to Pittsfield this week, according to Joseph Pieropan, an assistant district attorney.
Questions about Jordan's condition remain, a family member says.
"I don't really know what his mental state is," said Breanna Seviour, Jordan's daughter. "I'm honestly concerned about him. I don't think he's doing good."
Jordan was detained Sept. 23 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers near the Canadian border, then held in the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, Vt., as the Vermont legal system confronted what turned out to be a complicated extradition process.
Family and friends have told The Eagle they believe Jordan was suffering a mental crisis at the time of the fires, one of which damaged his home at 112 Appleton Ave. in downtown Pittsfield. He is a suspect in four suspicious fires that broke out Sept. 22 in Pittsfield; as of now, he is expected to be charged with three counts of burning a dwelling, though that could change, officials have said.
After Jordan was detained in northern Vermont, an attorney was appointed to represent him in appearances in Franklin District Court in St. Albans.
That attorney asked that her client be evaluated to establish his competency. But Vermont law only allows such evaluations for people facing criminal charges in that state. Jordan was held in Vermont on a fugitive from justice charge.
A second attempt to clear a path for extradition failed in mid-October, when Jordan was not able to satisfy a Vermont judge that he was aware of basic facts related to his case.
The impasse forced prosecutors led by former Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello to use a little known option of having Gov. Charlie Baker appeal directly to Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. That slowed the extradition for months.
"We want to bring him back here where he belongs," Pieropan said of Jordan in a November interview. "It's obvious Mr. Jordan is in need of services — and the sooner we get him back here, the sooner that will happen."
Jordan's daughter says she has spoken with her father by phone and agrees he needs help. Seviour said she does not believe family members were able to visit him in Swanton, Vt.
"He's not worrying about what he needs to worry about," she said of her father. In addition to short phone conversations, Seviour said family members have received letters from Jordan, written from custody in the facility, which is set amid rolling hills and pastures a few miles north of St. Albans.
"He needs to take care of himself and he's not doing that," Seviour said. "I don't know what kind of care he's getting. It hasn't been easy."
She added, "Jail is not where he needs to be right now."
When he enters the Massachusetts judicial system, Jordan will be provided with the same legal protections accorded all defendants who are deemed not be be legally competent.
After Jordan was detained in Vermont, Caccaviello said the defendant's mental condition would be evaluated after his return to Pittsfield.
"If it is a live issue it would likely present itself at the arraignment stage," he said.
In addition to the fire at Jordan's home, he is suspected of starting blazes at 47 Fort Hill Ave., off West Street; at 42-22 Brown St. in the city's Morningside section; and at 85 Ridge Ave., near Pontoosuc Lake. No one was injured in the fires.
Larry Parnass can be reached at email@example.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.