Special Sub-Topic: The Dena Schlosser Case
|On November 22, 2004 Dena Schlosser spoke to a 911 operator named Steve Edwards. He could hear religious music playing softly in the background and Dena was eerily calm as she informed him that she had cut the arms off of her ten month old daughter. In what city did Dena reside at the time? |
Plano, Texas. At the time of the murder, Dena Schlosser lived in an apartment in a fairly affluent area of western Plano with her husband and other two daughters. The hymn "He Touched Me" was playing on her stereo.
|It's been determined that Dena Schlosser was suffering post-partum depression when she committed the act of violence upon her daughter Margaret. What had occurred recently that triggered her into action? |
She had seen a news story about a lion attacking a boy.. Experts believe that when Dena saw the news story about a boy being mauled by a lion she had a severe psychotic episode which lead her to believe it was a sign of the apocalypse. She believed that God wanted her to cut off her baby's arms and then her own arms and head. Several factors may have contributed to her altered view of reality, including her post-partum depression, a brain tumor that may have caused hallucinations, and her involvement in a fringe church that approached a near cult status. She had, in fact, been investigated previously by Child Protective Services for allegations of child neglect, but had been found not dangerous to her children, and as far as it is known her husband did not threaten to take them from her as a result.
|Dena Schlosser called 911 immediately after severing her Baby's arms.|
f. Dena Schlosser never in fact called 911 at all. Her husband John called a nearby daycare center and asked that they check in on Dena and Margaret. Upon speaking to her on the phone, the staff at the daycare contacted the City of Plano's 911 center and relayed their concern. Employee Steve Edwards then placed a call to Dena Schlosser to determine if a police response was necessary. She told him that she had hurt her baby and so he asked her what happened. It was at that point that she informed him of what she had done. During the conversation he also asked her if she wanted to help her baby, to which she replied very casually that she did not.
|It is believed that because nobody heard any screams that the baby Margaret was unconscious when Dena began to sever her arms from her body.|
f. Police were in fact lead to believe that Margaret was fully awake when Dena began her horrible deed. Margaret was in her crib the whole time. Dena took out the largest knife in the kitchen, one with a nine inch blade, went to where the baby was, and slowly began cutting. She began on the left side and as she sawed through flesh and bone, the tip of the knife produced over fifty puncture wounds in Margaret's left cheek. Once the arm was fully removed, she began on the right side. It is believed that since there were considerably fewer such wounds on her right cheek that by that time Margaret had stopped struggling.
|Officer David Tilley of the Plano (TX) Police was the first to arrive at the apartment that day. What did Dena Schlosser tell him about her actions that day?|
She simply said "I felt like I had to.". Upon arriving, officer Tilley found a disoriented and confused woman covered in blood that was not entirely her own. He knew at that moment that this would be a day he'd never forget. She clutched the kitchen knife close to her as she answered the door. When he as able to safely take the knife from her, he noted that the blade still had small amounts of human flesh on it. Officer Mike Letzelter was among the next group of personel to arrive. He is a former Marine MP who has seen more than his share of gruesome circumstances and sickening actions, and he admits that after what he saw in the Schlosser's apartment, he very nearly took off his uniform for good.
|Dena's husband at the time, John Schlosser, was working in nearby Arlington when the incident occurred. What prompted him to come home early that day?|
The apartment complex called him and said that the police were at his apartment.. Initially, John Schlosser indeed received a call from Dena. She told him that she had cut off Margaret's arms, but he did not believe it to be true because she had had a recent history of mental instability and mentioned giving the baby to God but had never followed through. Rather than contact the authorities, John called Doyle Davidson, the leader of the cult-like Water of Life Church to which the Schlossers belonged. He told John to get in touch with someone who could check on Dena, suggesting neighbor Carolyn Thomas who worked at a local daycare center. It was in fact another daycare worker who overheard Carolyn's following conversation with Dena who contacted authorities. John then recieved a call after police had arrived from the management of his apartment and finally contacted Plano Police. 911 dispatcher Jason Neubauer answered the phone and John said "I'm on the way home from work in Arlington to my apartment and the police are there. I need to know what's going on, my wife and child are in there." Neubauer's only thought was "I'm sorry, but no they aren't. Not anymore."
|Doyle Davidson has been a minor figure in the media since the incident due to his possible contribution to Dena's degenerated mental state. What does he claim that is outlandish to the scientific community about Dena's problems?|
That mental illness is a symptom of demonic possession.. Doyle Davidson believes that God speaks to him directly, that he himself is a prophet, and that God has actually made him an apostle. As members of his church, the Schlossers were forbidden to use medicines of any kind which included the anti-psychotic medication Dena had been prescribed after Margaret's birth. Dena also was expected to be fully submissive to her husband, as women in the church who have opinions contrary to men's are seen as "jezebels". Davidson maintains to this day that all mental illness is a direct result of possession by demons, and that the devil worked through Dena against his ministry.
|How did Dena plead in the subsequent trial?|
Not guilty by reason of insanity.. After the plea was entered, trial commenced in February of 2006 where three separate psychologists took the stand and agreed that Dena was legally insane at the time of the murder and remained insane afterward. Notably, Dr. Joseph Black of the North Texas State Hospital testified that the tragedy "would have been preventable with appropriate (medical) treatment." Doyle Davidson also took the stand that day and maintained that medicine is evil and that mental illness is nothing more than possession by demons.
|Was Dena Schlosser found not guilty by reason of insanity at the end of the February, 2006 trial?|
n. The initial trial in February of 2006 was declared a mistrial by Judge Chris Oldner after jurors deadlocked in the second day of deliberations. After informing the judge of the deadlock, the jury was instructed to continue in deliberations by Oldner, who declared the mistrial two days later after a total of four days' deliberation.
A second trial that April found Dena Schlosser not guilty by reason of insanity after it was revealed that she had in inoperable brain tumor that may have contributed to her hallucinations.
|What became of Dena Schlosser and the rest of her family?|
Dena was remitted as a patient at the North Texas State Hospital's psychiatric ward in Vernon. John has divorced her and has custody of their other two children.. Dena was placed into the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon to be "held until she is no longer deemed a threat to herself or others."
The elements that surround this case are various. Ultimately, it was determined that Dena Schlosser suffered from post-partum psychosis and depression. Most who are familiar with the case seem to believe that her involvement in the Water of Life Church contributed to her mental decline.
The chilling question is what would have happened if the daycare staff hadn't called authorities that day? By the time police arrived, Dena had in fact cut herself deeply. It's possible that John Schlosser would have come home at his normal hour to a dead wife and child.
D Magazine's expose' of Doyle Davidson and the incident itself was instrumental in putting this quiz together and can be viewed at:
Much of the rest of the information came from my personal knowledge of the case as a member of the 911 team who was working in Plano that horrible day. I am not ashamed to say that I cried that night and that cases such as these are sobering reminders that the best revenge against that evil which makes us afraid of humanity is to do our parts to help make sure it doesn't happen to the next person who calls for help.
Remember the name Margaret Schlosser.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction