Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mother Decapitates 3 1/2 Week Old Newborn

This is such a preventable tragedy. Mental illness has many victims and this is probably the most blatant example. We can't bring baby Scott back, but we can prevent it from happening again. These issues break my heart and I'm sure I will write more about this as I have more time.

from My SA:

It was Sanchez's mother who called police Sunday. She told them she was awakened by Sanchez around 4:30 a.m. She said she saw her daughter sitting with the boy. He had been decapitated, a police report said. Sanchez's mother took the baby, put him on a bed and called police, according to the report.

When police arrived, Sanchez was sitting on a couch, yelling, “I killed my baby. I want to die,” the report said.

An officer found the child's body lying in blood on a bed next to the knife, believed to be the weapon used in the killing, and two swords, which Rios said were not involved in the death. Authorities were seen carrying two bags out of the home, and officials on the scene confirmed that they contained the baby's remains.

The baby was missing body parts, and police were investigating claims the mother made to them about ingesting those parts, sources said.

Colchin was surprised to hear that Sanchez, who brought her baby across the street for a visit last week, is a suspect in the infant's death, though she admits Sanchez sometimes appeared a bit odd.

“She was never aggressive; always sweet,” Colchin said. “She did seem to be living in a world of her own, but she must have been deranged. I feel so sorry for that baby, the little angel.”

Rios said Sanchez did not have a criminal history related to mental illness, but police will investigate that further, and the district attorney's office will handle how Sanchez's mental state affected her actions.

Here's an update:

Sanchez told detectives that she was “hearing voices” and the devil made her kill her baby boy, who was born June 30.

The Bexar County district attorney's office will review the detectives' recommended capital murder charge, which is punishable by the death penalty.

“You can still be prosecuted if you have some form of mental illness,” said First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg. “The test is if you understand the difference between right and wrong. The question is whether or not you know your act is wrong.”

Dr. Lucy Puryear, a Houston psychiatrist and author, said mothers who experience postpartum psychosis often have a history of other mental disorders, but in some cases childbirth triggers the psychosis.

“It's usually really severe,” Puryear said.

Puryear testified as an expert witness in the case of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in Houston in 2001.

While postpartum depression affects one in 10 mothers, Puryear said, the more severe postpartum psychosis — which includes hallucinations — affects one in 1,000.

“In all of the (high-profile) cases, the thinking involves the babies: The mother had to kill the baby to protect it, or God has spoken to the mother and there is a mission to kill the baby, or sometimes the baby is the devil, who needs to be gotten rid of to save the world,” she said.

Relatives said Sanchez's mental health severely deteriorated in the week before Scotty's death. On July 20, she moved out of the home she shared with the baby and his father near Windcrest.

The same day, she checked herself into a hospital after hearing voices, but she soon checked herself out, according to a source familiar with the investigation but unauthorized to speak to the media. She then took the baby to stay at her mother's home.

Buchholz said he called her every day to convince her to return, to no avail.

She finally reappeared about 2 p.m. Saturday at Buchholz's parents' home on the Northeast Side.

“We were so happy to see Scotty again,” Buchholz said.

She was at the home for about 15 minutes when Buchholz told Sanchez that he needed a copy of Scotty's birth certificate and Social Security card. The request seemed to “set her off,” Buchholz said.

“She grabbed the baby and just said, ‘I gotta go. I gotta go. I'm out of here.'”

His mother called 911, and a sheriff's deputy arrived to investigate the incident as a disturbance, court records show.

That night, while Buchholz was attending the Judas Priest concert, he received a cell phone call from Sanchez.

“She told me she had found someone else and she never wanted to see me again,” he said.

Police think she killed the baby six hours later.

The couple's volatile relationship was on and off for the past six years, ever since they met while enrolled in the San Antonio College of Medical and Dental Assistants, but they became dedicated to making it work after learning Sanchez was pregnant last year, relatives said.

“She took really good care of herself during the pregnancy,” said Buchholz, who also has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. “We were excited about having a baby.”

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