Tuesday, November 23, 2004

PLANO, Texas — A 35-year-old mother of three has been charged with capital murder here, following the shocking discovery that she had severed the arms of her 10-month-old daughter.

Rescue workers found the baby barely alive Monday, with Dena Schlosser calmly sitting on her couch humming a religious tune and wiping blood from her hands and arms.

The child was rushed to the Medical Center of Plano, about two blocks from their apartment, but was pronounced dead almost immediately.

John Schlosser, her husband, reportedly was en route home from work, but was clearly concerned about his wife’s mental condition after she had called his mobile phone and told him what she had done, authorities said.

Mr. Schlosser refused to be interviewed yesterday, saying, “I need some time.” He has talked at length with investigators, however.

He told the police that after he hung up from talking with his wife, he phoned a day care center near the Schlosser apartment where his wife previously had worked. Mr. Schlosser said he asked workers there to check on his wife and youngest child. A worker there immediately called 911.

Mental-health workers familiar with Mrs. Schlosser’s history say she has suffered from postpartum depression since the birth of her daughter on Jan. 9.

The Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) became involved a few days later, on Jan. 15, when they were informed that Mrs. Schlosser had left the baby alone and was running up and down the streets.

“Someone saw her and called the police, and then we got involved,” CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said. “A worker followed up and monitored to make sure Mom was following up with a mental-health professional. There was no indication of violence or abuse.”

Emergency tapes released Monday by the police provided a bizarre and pitiful scenario. A 911 operator telephoned Mrs. Schlosser and asked if there was an emergency there, the mother calmly replied, “Yes.”

“Exactly what happened?” the 911 operator continued.

“I cut her arms off,” Mrs. Schlosser replied, as the hymn “He Touched Me” could be heard in the background.

“You cut her arms off?” the disbelieving male caller continued.

“Uh huh,” she replied.

Carl Duke, a Plano Police Department spokesman, said Mrs. Schlosser was completely cooperative when police arrived. “She didn’t try to hide,” he said. “She was very quiet, subdued.”

After CPS intervention in January, Mrs. Schlosser was hospitalized in a Plano hospital for two days, then released and given what officials called “a psychotropic drug.” She met with health care specialists several times during the spring and summer, but the last visit by a caseworker was on July 29. The case officially was closed Aug. 9, according to records.

“We had received assurances that Mom was stable from the people who were dealing with her,” said Geoffrey Wool, a second CPS spokesman.

It was not known exactly when she stopped taking the prescribed drugs. One Plano investigator said she “definitely” was “off of them.”

“At the time we closed the case, we had been assured she had stabilized and posed no risk to herself or her children — to the extent that you can predict these things,” Mr. Wool said yesterday.

Authorities moved the Schlossers’ other two children, ages 6 and 9, into protective custody yesterday.

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