Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Texas — With a calm and dispassionate voice and a
hymn playing in the background, Dena Schlosser (search) confessed to the unthinkable,
telling a 911 operator she'd cut off the arms of her baby
The woman was sitting in her living room covered with blood
when police arrived Monday. Her nearly 11-month-old daughter
lay fatally injured in a crib in a bedroom of the family's
apartment in Plano. The child died shortly afterward at a
Police have charged the 35-year-old mother with capital
murder, but declined to reveal where she is being held.
Schlosser, who had a history of postpartum depression, had
been investigated on child neglect allegations earlier this
year, but Texas Child Protective Services (search) had recently closed a seven-month
investigation, concluding that Schlosser did not pose a risk
to her children. Neighbors said she seemed to be a loving,
"There were never any indications of violence with this
family," agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said. "The
children had always been healthy, happy and cared for."
But, on Monday, authorities discovered a grisly scene at
the family's apartment after the child's father called a
day-care center, and asked them to check on his wife and
Day-care workers called 911 after talking to the mother; an
operator then called Schlosser.
Asked if there was an emergency, Schlosser calmly responded
"Yes," according to 911 tapes released by police.
"Exactly what happened?" the 911 operator asked.
"I cut her arms off," Schlosser replied, as the hymn "He
Touched Me" played in the background.
"You cut her arms off?" he repeated.
"Uh huh," she answered.
It was not immediately clear what instrument was used to
sever the baby's arms or why the child's father called a
day-care center to check on his family.
Schlosser lived at the apartment with other family members,
including her two older daughters. Authorities said the girls,
ages 6 and 9, were at school when police arrived, and that
their father was at work.
No one answered the door Monday night at the family's
apartment in suburban Dallas. Children's bicycles rested near
the entrance along with angel garden statues.
Neighbors said Schlosser took her children swimming in the
summer, had picnics in the courtyard and walked her baby
around the complex the same time each afternoon.
Dena Livingston, 43, said she saw Schlosser making her
rounds with the stroller on Sunday. Two days earlier, she saw
Schlosser waiting with the baby outside the elementary school
where her two other daughters attend.
"She didn't give off like she was in a distant world or
didn't care about the baby," Livingston said.
Livingston's husband, Brad, added: "To see her with the
girls, you would just think she was a great mother."
Child-protective officials were interviewing Schlosser's
daughters and would talk to the father before deciding whether
to remove the girls from the home.
In January, the agency was called to the home after
Schlosser was seen running down the street, with one of her
daughters bicycling after her, authorities said. When
officials arrived, the child told them her mother had left her
6-day-old sister alone in the apartment.
Schlosser appeared at the time to be suffering from
postpartum depression and having a psychotic episode, Gonzales
Schlosser was hospitalized, and later agreed to seek
counseling and saw a psychiatrist, Gonzales said.
"At the time we closed the case, we had been assured that
Mom was stabilized and that she was not a risk to herself or
her children," Geoff Wool, spokesman for the Family and
Protective Services Department, said.