NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A teacher accused of having an affair with a high school student, and whose husband is accused of killing the young man, has disappeared with her two children after checking out of a mental hospital.
Erin McLean, who has legal custody of her two boys, ages 11 and 8, has been missing since Sept. 15, according to attorneys for her and her husband.
Attorney Gary Blackburn said his client is emotionally distraught, but he doesn't believe she would harm her children.
"Erin's undergoing enormous pressure," Blackburn said Friday. "She's unable to get or keep jobs. Anything she does is interpreted in a certain way. I fear for her. Anyone in that state, you don't know what might happen."
Eric McLean's attorney, Bruce Poston, said family members went public with the disappearance Friday in hopes of finding the boys.
Erin McLean had just checked out of a mental hospital Sept. 15. The boys had been staying with a grandmother.
Eric McLean has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Sean Powell, who he believed was having an affair with his wife. Powell was shot March 10 as he sat unarmed in his car in front of the McLeans' home. Erin McLean had been his English teacher.
Eric McLean filed for divorce from his wife, and has said the shooting was an accident. He remains in jail awaiting a Jan. 14 trial.
Family members think Erin McLean may be heading to California to meet someone she met on the Internet, Poston said.
They plan to file a petition Monday arguing that McLean is not fit to have custody — which would allow authorities to put out a missing person report.
"She's not stable," Poston said. "These boys are in danger. For now, this is the first time both families agree she is too unstable to have these boys."
Blackburn said his client, who was recently fired from a Nashville school amid new allegations of improper conduct with a student, has been frustrated trying to find a new job and doesn't know how to handle the public attention.
"She's a fragile person," Blackburn said. "There's two ways to deal with it — fight and flight. She chose the latter."