Andrea was homeschooling Noah and caring for three toddlers. Rusty babysat one night a week. For a time Andrea continued monthly visits to Starbranch, whose notes of their December 1999 session quote Andrea as saying she is "doing great—baking cookies and getting ready for Xmas." Rusty accompanied Andrea to her January 12, 2000, appointment. Starbranch wrote that Andrea "admits she's off all meds since 11/99. Husband says he didn't like her doing this but [she] seems to be doing okay. [Patient] wants to be off meds unless symptomatic. Husband agrees." There are no records of further visits to Starbranch.

November 30, 2000
Andrea had been off medication for a year when she gave birth to Mary. Three months later Andrea's father, whom she had been nursing through Alzheimer's disease for seven years, died. Her psychosis returned with a vengeance. She held baby Mary in her arms nonstop, terrified to put her down. She stopped eating, drinking, and speaking. Her desperate husband brought her to nearby Devereux Hospital in League City, Texas, telling the admitting physician his wife "could not survive another night at home."

This time her attending psychiatrist, Mohammad A. Saeed, MD, and Patricia Corke, MD, an examining physician, quickly appealed to the probate court of Galveston County, Texas, to commit Andrea to Austin State Hospital. Both doctors checked committal form boxes indicating Andrea was a danger to herself and that she was unable to make a rational treatment choice. One box was left unchecked: "is likely to cause serious harm to others."

In the two-year span of her severe depression, neither her family, her friends, nor the many doctors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers who treated her indicated that Andrea could be a threat to her children's lives. The many Father's Day cards she'd art-directed, the costumes she'd sewn, the Valentine certificates for hugs and kisses she'd given her children, didn't add up to filicide. On the contrary there was an unshakable conviction in people who knew her, slightly or well, that Andrea must have lost her mind by the time she killed her children.

Rather than having Andrea committed to a state hospital, Rusty convinced her to voluntarily sign herself into Devereux. Had Andrea been placed in the state hospital, her stay would not have been limited to health plan maximums. After 12 days at Devereux, she was again discharged into her family's care.

A Cry in the Dark continues...


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