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Mine An ENER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Villanova University history professor
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 4, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1965
Victim profile: Her 6-month-old daughter, Raya Donagi, who had Down syndrome
Method of murder: Slitting the baby's throat
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Status: Committed suicide by smothering herself to death with a plastic trash bag in her cell on August 30, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mom Kills 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, suicide

February 14, 2005 

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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.

Their 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 professor.

"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.

Mine 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.

"When 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.

Mine 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.

"She's getting 'gorgeouser' by the day," Ener wrote to her sister-in-law in March 2003.

But caring for the baby, who required a feeding tube, came to overwhelm and exhaust her.

"She 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."

Ener's 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. Paul.

"She was so totally mentally crushed, you could just see it in her body," brother Oran Ener, Ruth's husband, recalled.

Ener 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.

Ener, 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 doctorate.

She was 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.

Months later, she was hearing voices that told her to kill her baby - hallucinations, a psychiatrist concluded after the murder.

The 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 strong antidepressant.

Three 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 alone.

"And in just a very matter-of-fact voice, she said, 'I killed my baby,'" Mine's mother, Marita, recalled.

Marita Ener found her bloody granddaughter on the bathroom floor.

The family now wonders whether the change in medication contributed to her actions.

Ener's 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.

They believe that ignorance fueled the backlash about the Ener memorial at Villanova.

"What 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 Daily Express

February 2, 2005

VILLANOVA, 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 post-partum depression.

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 the killers.

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.

 
 

Mine Ener Dies In Jail Of Apparent Suicide

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

September 3, 2003

ST. PAUL, 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.

Deputies and paramedics were unable to revive Ener. She was pronounced dead an hour later at nearby Regions Hospital.

"It's 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 area."

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."

 
 

Mom Confesses To Killing Infant Daughter

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

August 7, 2003

ST. PAUL, 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 life suffering."

Raya Donagi had Down syndrome. During her short life she had relied much of the time on a feeding tube.

Ener appeared 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.

St. Paul police Sgt. Bruce Wynkoop told the Pioneer Press that Ener was surrounded by a loving husband and family who wanted to help her.

"She had 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."

Many 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

USAToday.com

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 murder.

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 with Ener.

 
 


Villanova University history professor Dr. Mine Ener.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
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