Infant Daughter With Down Syndrome, Then Kills Self
On August 4,
2003, Villanova University history professor Dr. Mine Ener used a
12-inch kitchen knife to slice the throat of her 6-month-old daughter,
Raya Donagi, who had Down syndrome. Police said Ener told them she
"did not want the child to go through life suffering", that she was
afraid the child might have to use a feeding tube. On August 30,
Ener's body was discovered in a jail day room. She had apparently
smothered herself to death with a plastic trash bag.
Professor's family sought help before infanticide,
February 14, 2005
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - Family members of Villanova University professor Mine
Ener, who killed her infant daughter and later herself as she
struggled with postpartum depression and psychosis, wonder if a new
medication regime contributed to Ener's downward spiral.
comments come a few weeks after the Roman Catholic university, amid a
hail of criticism, stripped Ener's name from a library study area that
had been dedicated last month to the once-popular Middle East history
"Psychosis overtook Mine without her family and friends realizing it
until it was too late," sister-in-law Ruth Ener told The Philadelphia
Inquirer in a story published Monday.
Ener, 38, killed her 6-month-old daughter, Raya Donagi, by slitting
the baby's throat at Ener's parents' home in St. Paul, Minn., in
August 2003. Less than a month later, she put a trash bag over her
head and committed suicide in a Minnesota jail.
Raya was born with Down syndrome, Mine could not forgive herself.
There was nothing I could do to convince her that this was our joint
responsibility, not hers alone," Mine Ener's husband, Ron Donagi,
Raya's father, wrote in an e-mail to the newspaper.
Ener (whose name was pronounced MINN-uh Eh-NUHR) initially devoted
herself to her daughter's care, researching the condition and sending
out upbeat reports.
getting 'gorgeouser' by the day," Ener wrote to her sister-in-law in
caring for the baby, who required a feeding tube, came to overwhelm
and exhaust her.
seemed unable to stop worrying about Raya," Donagi wrote. "One day the
issue might be Raya's weight, the next day her hearing, then her
ability to keep food down, then her weight again."
outlook deteriorated on a monthlong trip to California in July, so she
left her husband there to visit her parents and three brothers in St.
was so totally mentally crushed, you could just see it in her body,"
brother Oran Ener, Ruth's husband, recalled.
acknowledged suicidal thoughts, but said she would not act on them,
the family said. A brother asked if Ener thought of harming her
daughter and she replied, "No, never," the family said.
studious and a bit shy as a child, had no history of depression,
relatives said. Born in Stockholm, she came to the United States with
her scientist-parents in 1965 and earned two master's degrees and a
seemingly hitting her stride - living on the Main Line with her
husband, finishing a book, earning warm praise from Villanova students
- before her daughter's Feb. 1, 2003, birth.
later, she was hearing voices that told her to kill her baby -
hallucinations, a psychiatrist concluded after the murder.
family had tried to keep someone with Ener at all times and sought out
medical specialists who had her stop breast-feeding and put her on a
days later, on the morning of Aug. 4, a seemingly calm Ener was
burping Raya, walking back and forth, when she returned to the kitchen
just a very matter-of-fact voice, she said, 'I killed my baby,'"
Mine's mother, Marita, recalled.
Ener found her bloody granddaughter on the bathroom floor.
family now wonders whether the change in medication contributed to her
family is now trying to raise awareness and funds for postpartum
depression and Down syndrome advocacy groups, and has asked Minnesota
lawmakers to require postpartum warnings for new mothers.
believe that ignorance fueled the backlash about the Ener memorial at
we saw happen to Mine, we feel could happen to anybody," another
brother, Toran, said.
University Removes Memorial
To Professor Who Killed Infant Daughter
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion
February 2, 2005
PENNSYLVANIA--Officials at Villanova University announced Monday that
they have removed a plaque from a library study area dedicated to Dr.
Mine Ener, the history professor who admitted murdering her infant
daughter before killing herself a year and a half ago.
The Catholic university will
instead hold a symposium on mental illness, with special focus on
The memorial in the alcove had
been designed by a campus ad hoc committee and was financed by Ener's
friends, colleagues and family.
On August 4, 2003, Ener admitted
using a 12-inch kitchen knife to slice the throat of her 6-month-old
daughter, Raya Donagi, who had Down syndrome -- twice. Police said
Ener told them she "did not want the child to go through life
suffering" with her disability and that she was afraid the child might
have to use a feeding tube. According to some media reports, Ener had
been experiencing post-partum depression in earlier months and talked
about committing suicide and about hurting her child.
Ener was arrested and charged
with second-degree murder. But on August 30, her body was discovered
in a jail day room. She had apparently smothered herself to death with
a plastic trash bag.
"It never mentioned that she was
a mother," said Jeanne Marie Hoffman, a student newspaper editor who
protested the memorial plaque. "That whole thing was glazed over. The
baby was never mentioned."
"It upset me," Hoffman told the
Associated Press. "I thought . . . if I didn't say something, this
will pass by unnoticed."
The Norristown Times Herald said
in an editorial last month that the university was wrong to dedicate a
section of the on-campus library to Ener.
"Villanova should not hold the
actions of such a troubled woman in high esteem," it read.
As has been the case with other
high-profile murders of children with disabilities at the hands of
their parents, most media stories and experts have sympathized with
Many disability groups have emphasized that people with
Down syndrome can lead satisfying lives -- often living as long as the
general population. Many parents of children with Down syndrome have
said that, while there are challenges, the rewards are immeasurable.
Dies In Jail Of Apparent Suicide
Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
MINNESOTA--The Philadelphia professor who admitted murdering her
infant daughter last month died Saturday of an apparent suicide
outside her jail cell.
Mine Ener, 38,
appeared to be sleeping on a mattress in a Ramsey County Jail day-room
Saturday afternoon with a blanket pulled up over her head. Deputies
checked under the blanket at 3:45 p.m. and found that she had a
plastic trash bag over her head and was unconscious.
paramedics were unable to revive Ener. She was pronounced dead an hour
later at nearby Regions Hospital.
unusual to be able to suffocate in this fashion," Sheriff Bob
Fletcher said. "We're investigating it, at this point, as a suicide,
but we're also interviewing other inmates that were in this day-room
Ener had told police that she
was considering suicide and was on medication for postpartum
depression after she was arrested August 4 for second-degree murder.
The Villanova University history professor admitted using a 12-inch
kitchen knife to slice the throat of her daughter, 6-month-old Raya
Donagi, who had Down syndrome. Police said Ener told them she "did not
want the child to go through life suffering" and added that her family
was not as pessimistic about her daughter's potential quality of life
as she was.
Ener also told police she was
having difficulty feeding the child and feared that she would have to
use a feeding tube.
"Our hearts go out to the family
for enduring another loss," Sheriff Fletcher said. "It's another
tragedy on top of another tragic situation."
Confesses To Killing Infant Daughter
Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 7, 2003
MINNESOTA--Monday morning, Mine An Ener was in the middle of her usual
routine, feeding her 6-month-old daughter in her parent's family room,
when she decided to kill the infant.
According to a
statement Ener gave to St. Paul police, she picked up baby Raya,
walked to the kitchen to get a 12-inch kitchen knife, then went into
the bathroom where she sliced the girl's throat -- twice.
Ener said she
killed her daughter because she "did not want the child to go through
had Down syndrome. During her short life she had relied much of the
time on a feeding tube.
in court Wednesday, charged with second-degree murder. If convicted,
she could receive up to 40 years in prison. The judge scheduled her
arraignment for August 27 and set her bail at $500,000. She was being
held in the county jail on suicide watch.
Ener is a
history professor specializing in Middle East studies at Villanova
University outside Philadelphia. According to media reports, she had
been experiencing post-partum depression in recent months and talked
about committing suicide and about hurting her child.
police Sgt. Bruce Wynkoop told the Pioneer Press that Ener was
surrounded by a loving husband and family who wanted to help her.
alternatives," Wynkoop said.
As has been
the case with many high-profile murders of children with disabilities
at the hands of their parents, the media and others are focusing on
what they call the "parent's suffering".
"Here is a
woman who has worked very hard in her career and was very successful.
And she probably expected to be just as successful in childbearing and
childrearing," said Dr. Shari Lusskin, director of reproductive
psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. "And to have
a child that is handicapped, it must have been devastating to her."
disability groups point out that people with Down syndrome can live
satisfying lives -- often living as long as the general population.
Many parents of children with Down syndrome have responded that, while
there are challenges, the rewards are immeasurable.
Villanova professor charged with killing her baby
August 6, 2003
ST. PAUL (AP) — A Villanova
University history professor accused of fatally slitting her
6-month-old daughter's throat was charged Tuesday with second-degree
The girl, Raya Donagi, was
found bleeding and unconscious Monday after her grandmother called 911
about 9 a.m.
Police said the girl's mother,
Mine An Ener, gave the infant her morning feeding and then carried her
to the bathroom, pausing in the kitchen to get a knife. Police said
she told them she laid the baby on her back and then leaned over,
pressing the 12-inch knife's blade twice across Raya's throat.
"I killed my baby with a
knife," authorities said Ener, 38, told medics when they arrived.
Police said Ener sat with her
hands crossed in front of her chest, her mother holding her from
behind as the medics tried to revive the child, who was pronounced
dead at the grandmother's St. Paul home.
Ener, a professor at Villanova
University in Pennsylvania, had recently returned to Minnesota with
her daughter to be with family as she struggled with depression,
police and relatives said.
Ener, 38, told police she
suffered from postpartum depression and was on medication. The child
was born with Down syndrome and at one point needed to be fed through
a tube. She told police she wanted to give the baby relief.
"She felt the baby was
suffering," said police Sgt. Bruce Wynkoop.
Ener also told police she had
thought about killing herself for several weeks.
A preliminary autopsy showed
the baby bled to death from two neck wounds.
Nobody answered the door
Tuesday at the family's St. Paul home.
Ener, who grew up in St. Paul,
graduated from St. Paul Central High School and went on to St. Paul's
Macalester College. She earned her doctorate from the University of
Michigan and took a job at Villanova in 1996. She worked in the
university's Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.
"She's had a very good and
strong record here," said John Johannes, vice president of academic
affairs at Villanova. "She's being published and she's a good scholar.
She is very accomplished."
Michael Bonner, who met Ener in
the 1980s when she was attending graduate school at the University of
Michigan, where he currently teaches, said the allegations were "not
remotely in her character."
"I always thought she was a
highly motivated but balanced person," said Bonner, who edited a book
Villanova University history professor Dr. Mine