Woman who cut off baby's arms attempted suicide after birth

December 24, 2004

The Texas woman who admitted killing her 10-month-old by cutting off the newborn's arms tried to commit suicide the day after she gave birth to her at home.

Dena Schlosser, 35, cut her wrist on January 10 and was treated in a hospital emergency room.

Five days later, she was seen running down the street "yelling at the top of her lungs" because she said there was a "spirit" in the apartment, according to medical records.

Her oldest daughter as well as the baby, Margaret, had been left alone in the apartment.

Schlosser's then-5-year-old daughter was chasing her.

Police and paramedics were called, and within the next 24 hours, doctors at three hospitals - Medical City of Dallas, Medical Centre of Plano and Green Oaks - determined that Schlosser was psychotic or suffering from psychosis in addition to postpartum depression, her medical records show. One suggested she might have bipolar disorder.

Ten months later, on November 22, police were called to Schlosser's first-floor apartment and found her covered in her daughter's blood, still holding a knife and listening to religious hymns.

Margaret was in her crib and not breathing. Her arms had been severed at the shoulders. Schlosser was charged with capital murder.

During the January hospital visit, Schlosser was given the anti-psychotic medication Haldol, Benadryl and the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, the records show. Schlosser hadn't slept in three or four days and had not eaten much since Margaret was born, according to the records.

She has "delusional thinking, but patient denies suicidal intent," one physician wrote.

Schlosser's husband "feels the best place for ... (her) is at home ... wants ... (her) to come home ... says that Dena's 'spiritual church vocabulary' may be mixed up ... (and she will be perceived as) 'being crazy' ... says we may contact their church about any aberrant beliefs and does not want their religious beliefs to be confused ... (with) psychosis", according to another medical record.

Child Protective Services has said Schlosser's postpartum depression was diagnosed in January. The agency investigated Schlosser for neglect because she left Margaret alone. CPS closed the case in August when Schlosser was deemed stable.

CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales declined to comment yesterday on whether the agency knew Schlosser tried to commit suicide or on the diagnoses that she was suffering from psychosis.

Prosecutors have asked for a gag order forbidding public comment about child-custody issues by those connected to the case. A judge has not ruled, but Gonzales said the agency's policy is not to comment when such a motion is pending.

Gonzales did say that if information is documented in medical records, "we would know about it."

Child Protective Services has temporary custody of the two older girls while the agency evaluates where they should live. Schlosser's husband, John, has said through his lawyer that he wants the children returned to him.

John Schlosser has repeatedly declined to comment.

CPS said John Schlosser did not protect his youngest daughter from his wife.

Court-appointed psychiatrist David Self is examining Schlosser to determine whether she is competent to stand trial. He has declined to comment.

Her lawyer, David Haynes, said he thinks his client is not competent to assist him with her defence. Although he has not seen all of Schlosser's medical records, he said he thinks doctors' diagnoses in January support his belief.

"Clearly, in January, she was psychotic. If, as we expect, we're going to get a report from Dr. Self that she is presently psychotic in December 2004 ... what reason is there to believe she changed in the intervening period?" Haynes said Wednesday. "Some evidence would suggest she was psychotic" the day Margaret died.