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Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

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Otty SANCHEZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: 'The Devil made me do it' - Mutilation - Cannibalism (apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 26, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1976
Victim profile: Her son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez, 3 1/2-week-old
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Status: Found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 30, 2010
 
 

 
 

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Texas mom who dismembered baby not guilty by reason of insanity, will go to state institution

FoxNews.com

July 1, 2010

A San Antonio woman who told authorities the devil made her mutilate and dismember her newborn was found not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday, in a deal that sends her to a state mental institution rather than to face a trial and possible prison sentence.

Defense attorneys entered the plea on behalf of Otty Sanchez, 33, and it was accepted shortly thereafter as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez was three weeks old when authorities who received a frantic 911 call from the boy's aunt arrived to find his mutilated body, and Sanchez wailing the devil made her do it. On the call, Sanchez can be heard screaming, "I didn't mean to do it! He told me to!" while her sister pleads for an ambulance.

"This was probably one of the most horrendous cases that we have seen as far as the murder of a child," said County District Attorney Susan Reed.

Sanchez was charged with capital murder and was found competent to stand trial. But Reed said after three examinations by separate doctors determined she was legally insane when she killed her son, the court had no choice but to accept the plea.

"She will be committed until the court decides she is not a danger to herself or anyone else," Reed said.

Reed said she was horrified by what Sanchez did, but also disturbed by the fact that she had sought treatment before killing her son and did not receive the care she needed.

"A lot of people are OK when they are taking their medications but once they stop taking them, they are a danger again," Reed said.

Sanchez periodically sought treatment for mental illness before her son was born and even spent a few hours in an emergency room after the birth because she was hearing voices less than a week before the attack.

Defense attorney Ed Camara said she had been prescribed the antidepressant citalopram after giving birth but had only taken it the day before killing her son. The drugs do not take effect for a few weeks.

An estimated 1,000 women are afflicted with postpartum psychosis. Women with the diagnosis can suffer dangerous delusions and desires to hurt their children, unlike postpartum depression, which occurs in as many as one in five new mothers.

Andrea Yates, the suburban Houston mother who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001, and Dena Schlosser, who cut off her baby's arms in 2004 both suffered from the psychosis, their attorneys said.

The justice system has come a long way since Yates was convicted and faced a possible death sentence in 2002, said her attorney, Greg Parnham.

Yates was sentenced to life in prison before her case was overturned on appeal, after which she was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006 and sent to a state hospital.

"I think that we have to understand as a society that this gender-based mental disability is real," Parnham said. "New mothers sometimes experience severe depression — some of those mothers become psychotic."


Mental health documents released in case of mother who killed and ate parts of son

By Christopher Heath - Kens5.com

July 1, 2010

The mental evaluations, submitted by lawyers in the case of 33-year-old Otty Sanchez paint a picture of a woman beaten, molested and diagnosed with various forms of psychosis, and in and out of hospitals for half a decade before she killed her infant son.

The court documents, obtained by KENS 5, were completed by three separate doctors who each evaluated Sanchez to determine her competency. Doctors Randall Sellers and Lucy Puryear conducted the interviews with Otty Sanchez in the weeks that followed the death of three-week-old Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez.

In the interviews, Sanchez details using drugs for the first time in 2006. She says it was at that time that she first began to hear voices.

Drug use led her to Austin where she attempted to track down a former boyfriend named "Victor". While in Austin she was admitted to the Austin State Hospital. Doctors at the hospital diagnosed her with psychosis; however, she was issued a prescription and released.

On June 20, 2008 Ms. Sanchez was seen at the Center for Healthcare Services in San Antonio. Court documents indicate that she was paranoid, mildly delusional, depressed and psychotic with hallucinations; her medication was changed.

While on the medication, the voices in Sanchez's head went away, but unable to afford the cost of the medication, Sanchez stopped taking the psychotropic medication.

Shortly after going off the meds, Sanchez became pregnant.

During her pregnancy she was sent to a counselor for depression, however, she did not want to go on any medication.

After the birth of baby Scott, Otty Sanchez slipped into further depression and the voices began to return.

On July 20, 2009, Ms. Sanchez was taken by EMS to Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. According to the report by Dr. Sellers, Otty Sanchez had auditory and visual hallucinations as well as delusions. Sanchez indicated that she needed to be hospitalized; however, she was discharged to her sister.

In the days leading up to the death of baby Scott, Sanchez says she was paranoid, fearing that people were spying on her and plotting to take her baby from her. Her paranoia became worse when the voices began to get worse. For days, Sanchez says, the voices told her that the devil was in her son; she would avoid looking into his eyes for fear of "see[ing] the devil".

Through the course of her evaluation by Dr. Sellers, Sanchez elaborated on the circumstances surrounding the death of baby Scott and what the voices were saying. According to Sanchez, the voices told her that her mother had killed President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, and that the KKK was mad at her mother for killing JFK.

In Sanchez's interview with Dr. Puryear, she says, "the voices told me to hurt Scotty… he was going to be the apocalypse."

Further on the in the interview, Sanchez explains the decision to kill her son, saying, "the voices told [me] to eat his insides, I was a harlot because I had committed adultery… there was a demon in my stomach." The demons would come out of her stomach if she ate Scotty. This had to be done by 5 in the morning. Scotty would evolve and he would no longer be possessed."

Sanchez says the act of eating her child made her "gag and throw up", but the voices told her to eat again.

After her arrest for the death of Scotty, Otty Sanchez was taken to University Hospital where she continued to hear the voices, this time telling her that she was going to get a heart transplant and that she was going to be hurt.

Both Doctors Sellers and Puryear concluded after their evaluations that Otty Sanchez was suffering from mental illness.

In her report, Dr. Puryear wrote, "It is my medical opinion that Ms. Otty Sanchez was incapable of telling the difference reality and her delusions."

Doctor Sellers echoed similar comments, writing, "It is my opinion, based upon reasonable medical evidence that Ms. Sanchez had a severe mental illness, Paranoid Schizophrenia at the time of the alleged crime."

On Thursday, Otty Sanchez was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She will be sent to a state mental institution in Vernon, Texas  where she will receive a yearly evaluation of her mental capacity by the court.


The shocking case of Otty Sanchez exposes the holes in Texas' mental health care system

By Dave Mann - TexasObserver.org

January 13, 2010

The first police officers at the crime scene were so shocked they could barely speak. When they arrived at the white-paneled house on San Antonio's north side at 5 a.m. on July 26, officers found a bedroom doused in blood, the decapitated and mutilated body of a baby not even a month old, and his mother, 33-year-old Otty Sanchez, screaming that the devil made her do it.

Sanchez had left the baby's father after a fight and was staying with her mother and cousins. Around 4:30 a.m., while the rest of the family slept, she'd attacked her infant son with a large kitchen knife. Police officers would describe the crime as one of the most gruesome they had ever seen. Some of them later needed counseling.

It was hard to imagine that anyone in her right mind could do such a thing. And it turned out that Sanchez was suffering from postpartum psychosis, a rare but severe form of postpartum depression in which paranoid hallucinations prod new mothers to violence. (Postpartum psychosis and its potentially tragic consequences gained national notoriety after the trial of Andrea Yates, the Houston woman who killed her five children in 2001.) Sanchez had been enduring a mental-health crisis for at least a week before the killing. But when she reached out for help—like so many Texans with severe mental illness—she was left to fend for herself.

Just six days before she killed her son, on July 20, Sanchez had met with a counselor at the obstetrics-gynecology clinic that ushered her through pregnancy. The counselor, Luinda Combs, could tell right away that Sanchez wasn't well. Sanchez spoke of delusional, paranoid thoughts that other women were trying to breastfeed her baby. She was "hearing voices which have informed her others would like to take her baby away," according to Combs' notes from that session. "Client also reports visual images of other children's faces transposed on her baby's face." (The Observer was granted access to these medical records with Otty Sanchez's permission.)

Combs suspected right away that Sanchez had postpartum psychosis. She knew Sanchez had a history of depression and had been institutionalized a year earlier with paranoid schizophrenia. New mothers with severe mental illness are much more likely to suffer postpartum psychosis. Most alarming of all, Sanchez had stopped taking her anti-psychotic medication because of the side effects.

Combs told Sanchez she needed an immediate psychiatric evaluation and called an ambulance to rush her to the hospital. The counselor wanted to make sure Sanchez wasn't mindlessly shuffled through a busy emergency room, so she called ahead to let Metropolitan Methodist Hospital's psychiatric unit know that Sanchez would soon arrive with a likely diagnosis of postpartum psychosis. Combs wrote in her notes that the "hospital worker did not want to take information over the phone." So she also gave "specific details of client's delusions and hallucinations" to the EMS workers to pass along to the hospital personnel.

Combs' message about the severity of Sanchez's condition didn't quite get through. At the hospital, Sanchez would be diagnosed with visual hallucinations and audible voices, but nowhere in Sanchez's hospital records does the more alarming diagnosis Combs suspected—"postpartum psychosis"—appear.

The ambulance arrived at Metropolitan Methodist, a private hospital, at 11:39 a.m. Sanchez waited 20 minutes and was examined in the emergency room at 12:05, according to hospital records obtained by the Observer. Though Sanchez had been rushed to the hospital because of a mental-health crisis, for the next three hours, nurses gave her only physical tests and lab work and determined that her body was mostly healthy.

A little before 3 p.m., more than three hours after her arrival, Sanchez was finally examined by a member of the hospital's psychiatric team—not a psychiatrist, but a trained counselor. The evaluation lasted 44 minutes, and the records of that session show the seriousness of Sanchez's condition. She was experiencing "voices and hallucinations," according to hospital records, and "sees babies [sic] face change."

Sanchez asked to be admitted to the hospital's 31-bed inpatient psychiatric unit. "[Patient] states she needs to be admitted for voices," according to the records. Inpatient treatment had worked for Sanchez before. During a similar crisis in 2008, she had been hospitalized for more than two weeks until her mental condition stabilized. Now she was asking for similar treatment.

Sanchez was a good candidate for inpatient care. Here was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had been institutionalized a year before, who had recently given birth, who had stopped taking her meds, who was hearing voices and hallucinating, seeing her baby's face change into other faces. "She's got a big red light on her head saying 'I'm going to explode any minute,'" says her lawyer, Ed Camara. "You think they would at least talk to her doctor or ask her about her history. But they don't do anything like that."

Instead, the hospital employed another standard for admission to its psych unit. It mostly boiled down to a simple question: Did Sanchez feel suicidal or homicidal? New mothers will rarely answer this question honestly. Many will never admit to suicidal or infanticidal thoughts because—in addition to the societal stigma of saying they might harm their baby—they fear that, if they answer honestly, the government will try to take their child away. Sanchez was already having paranoid hallucinations about strangers lusting after her son.

It's hard to know exactly what was in Sanchez's mind at the time. (Because her case is pending, she couldn't be interviewed for this story.) But whatever she was thinking, Sanchez told the hospital counselor that she was "not suicidal, not homicidal, no command hallucinations," according to hospital records. (Command hallucinations are voices that instruct a person to take specific actions.) The counselor checked the "no" box on a form next to the line that reads, "Is the patient having suicidal or homicidal ideation and/or making threats?"

Asked about the hospital's standard for admission to the psych unit, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Methodist responded to the Observer by e-mail: "Qualified mental health professional perform [sic] a psych assessment, focusing on three things: whether patient is suicidal, homicidal or experiencing a deterioration such that, if we let them out of the hospital, they would be a danger to themselves or somebody else. The qualified mental health professional then gives assessment recommendation to ER doctor and doctor makes his own assessment on whether patient needs to be admitted. Doctors [sic] recommendation always stands. Doctor bears liability for decision."

Sanchez was sent home with the name of a clinic she could contact for outpatient services, though she was given no address or contact information. She never made an appointment. That's not uncommon. People in mental-health crises often can't care for themselves. Their mental state is too debilitated and agitated for basic outpatient care; they can't be relied upon to take medication or show up for appointments. They often need to be hospitalized for a short period until their minds stabilize to the point that they can function on their own.

The hospital also provided Sanchez with an information sheet—Camara calls it a "you're crazy" document—that lists general descriptions of "Hallucinations and Delusions" and of "Schizophrenia." The document instructed her to "Call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away if your symptoms get worse."

As Camara puts it, "They're telling a crazy person that 'you're crazy,' and to take care of yourself.'"

And that was that. Just 11 minutes after her psych evaluation ended, Sanchez was discharged from the hospital, at 3:53 p.m.

Six days later, she was back in an emergency room, this time at San Antonio's large public hospital. She was escorted by police officers. Her face was still smeared with blood from consuming parts of her son.

Texas may have the most beleaguered public mental-health system in the country. The state ranks 49th nationally in per-capita spending on mental health; only New Mexico is worse, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. State lawmakers have shorted the system for years. The result of this miserly approach is that hundreds of thousands of Texans with severe mental illnesses must fend for themselves.

For many people, the public system—such as it is—remains the only option. Private facilities are often prohibitively expensive, and most insurance plans offer minimal coverage for mental-health care. A few days' stay at a private treatment facility will usually exhaust the mental-health benefit offered by even the most decadent insurance plans.

Yet in Texas' public system, only the lucky ones receive services. Texas operates a dozen state hospitals, which are almost always near capacity and difficult to gain admittance to because of limited bed space. A network of 39 community mental-health authorities offers counseling, medication and other outpatient services. But with extreme funding shortages, the community centers can offer help to only a sliver of the people who need it. State officials have estimated that the centers can afford to treat only about one-third of the Texans with severe mental illnesses, leaving at least 400,000 largely without care.

The irony of the Otty Sanchez case is that, of all the places in Texas to suffer a mental-health crisis, San Antonio might be the best equipped to offer treatment.

"We have a success story to tell," says Leon Evans, who heads the Center for Health Care Services, the public mental-health clinic in San Antonio. The clinic, like many other community mental-health centers across Texas, is horribly underfunded by the state. But the center has forged alliances with the police, judges and other health-care providers in San Antonio to create some of the most innovative treatment programs in the country. Among other innovations, the center worked with San Antonio police on a program that trains officers how to spot and calmly subdue people who have severe mental illnesses without resorting to violence or arrests.

The Center for Health Care Services, which treated Sanchez for three months in 2008, has also created jail-diversion programs aimed at keeping nonviolent offenders with substance-abuse problems or mental illness out of prisons. In 2005, the center helped open a 10-bed inpatient mental-health crisis center, where people can stay for 23 hours if they have nowhere else to go. (The crisis center accepts referrals from hospitals when their psych units are full. Metropolitan Methodist could have sent Sanchez to the 23-hour crisis center if the hospital's psych unit had no room for her.) Combined, these programs are keeping nearly 1,000 people a month out of the county jail. That saves taxpayer money and, by providing people treatment instead of incarceration, greatly reduces the chances that they'll break the law again.

But despite those successes, the lack of funding minimizes what these programs can accomplish. "Money is very tight," says Gilbert Gonzales, who oversees the jail-diversion programs and also serves as spokesman for the Center for Health Care Services. "There's only so many people we can treat because we literally don't have enough money to meet the need."

State funding for mental-health services hasn't kept pace with demand. One main reason, Evans points out, is the way Texas doles out money to the community centers around the state. The funding is not based on the population of the area a clinic serves. Rural areas with shrinking populations receive far more money per capita than Houston, San Antonio and Dallas—cities with exploding populations and rising numbers of people with mental illness. There have been many attempts to change the way money is allocated. Most advocates realize that the level of mental-health funding should be based on population, but the Legislature has resisted this change; it's been blocked largely by rural lawmakers whose sparsely populated districts would lose money.

Evans and his staff stretch the meager funds as far as possible. The state provides enough money for the Center for Health Care Services to treat 4,240 people a month. But the center stretches it to treat about 6,000 adults and children (42 percent above the state's goal). Even so, the center can't meet the need. There is now a waiting list for services of several hundred people per month. "We're way under-funded," Evans says. "Our employees' heads are about to explode because they're so overworked."

It means that many people fall through the cracks. Otty Sanchez was one of them.

In Sanchez's family, hearing voices or seeing the occasional hallucination isn't unusual. Her mother, aunts and cousins have all had similar mental illness.

Sanchez was an only child and never knew her father. She grew up in a crowded household with seven other relatives, including her mother. The family moved often, living in at least three states during Otty's childhood. They returned to San Antonio from California when Otty entered high school. Sanchez's mother and two of her cousins turned down interview requests.

Although Sanchez would later be diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, her relatives had no idea she had mental illness until just last year, according to medical and court records (and to Camara, her lawyer, who has extensively interviewed the family). That's partly explained by other relatives' illnesses. But her symptoms were also easy to ignore; they didn't obviously disrupt her life until just last year. In fact, family friends often described Otty as one of the most level-headed people in the family.

She has been hearing voices since age 5, according to the report from a psychiatric evaluation recently conducted on her in the county jail. The voices are often "good voices telling her everything is going to be OK," according to the report by Brian Skop, a psychiatrist appointed by the court to evaluate Sanchez's competency to stand trial. But she also hears "bad voices. ... One voice in particular named 'Lucy,' which is telling me to do bad things like eat my hand," she told Skop.

Sanchez was mostly able to live with these voices and mild paranoia for years. She finished high school and began taking pharmacy-technician classes. That's where, in 2003, she met Scott Buchholz, who also is schizophrenic. The two began a dysfunctional, on-again, off-again relationship.

Sanchez's mental illness worsened in the past five years. Her behavior became erratic. She had trouble staying employed, bouncing from one low-paying job to another. She worked at fast-food restaurants and briefly as a home health caretaker.

In late May 2008, Sanchez went to Austin with a friend. While her friend was getting an acupuncture treatment, Sanchez wandered off. She walked into a CVS and prowled the store for the next seven hours. Police arrived and took her to the Austin State Hospital, where she stayed for 16 days. It was the first time her family learned of the severity of her mental illness. After her mental state stabilized, Sanchez was released. The nurses at Austin State Hospital referred her to outpatient care at the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio. They gave Sanchez the contact information, set up an appointment for her and later called to make sure she showed up.

Throughout the summer of 2008, Sanchez, who was uninsured at the time, received free outpatient treatment from the San Antonio clinic, including regular counseling sessions and anti-psychotic medication. She soon was feeling much better, according to her health records.

But in early September 2008, that all changed. The Center for Health Care Services—its budget strapped as ever—could no longer afford to provide Sanchez treatment. She would have to either pay or qualify for a government benefit. Camara, her lawyer, says that Sanchez believed she could never afford the treatment. So when her next appointment rolled around, Sanchez didn't show. The clinic workers didn't have the time or resources to track her down. They moved on to the next client on the waiting list. A month later, the center classified Sanchez's file as closed. "They let her drop out, and they have to, because they don't have the money," Camara says.

At about the same time she stopped receiving treatment, Sanchez reunited with Buchholz. In late September 2008, she got pregnant. You needn't be a psychiatrist to see trouble looming for two schizophrenics, one off her medication, deciding to have a baby.

Yet Sanchez managed her pregnancy without incident. She gave birth to Scotty Buchholz on June 30, 2009. Her OB-GYN prescribed anti-psychotic medication—she had given up medication during pregnancy—but Sanchez said the drug made her too tired. She stopped taking it on July 17, nine days before she attacked her baby. Her doctor planned to offer her a different drug, but before that could happen, Sanchez had one of her frequent fights with Buchholz. On July 20, she left him and descended into crisis. Emotional stress often exacerbates postpartum depression. Sanchez soon found herself in the emergency room at Metropolitan Methodist, asking for help.

After the hospital ushered her out the door with little more than an information sheet, there was still one last opportunity to prevent the killing. On the afternoon of July 25, 12 hours before the attack, Sanchez visited Buchholz and his mother, Kathleen. Sanchez had been living with her relatives and wanted to retrieve from Buchholz the baby's diaper bag and her medication. She hadn't taken a pill in eight days.

Buchholz's mother noticed that Sanchez seemed erratic and paranoid. Neither Buchholz nor his mother would agree to an interview for this story. A relative who answered the phone at Buchholz's home said he's no longer speaking with reporters. This account comes from Camara, the attorney, who has interviewed everyone who was present that afternoon. At one point, Sanchez refused to let Kathleen Buchholz hold the baby because she feared Kathleen was trying to steal her son or breastfeed him.

The Buchholzes told Sanchez that she needed to seek help. At that, Sanchez abruptly got up and fled the house. Kathleen Buchholz called law enforcement and told officers that Sanchez had run off with the child and was an unstable schizophrenic. The officers—members of the Bexar County Sheriff's Department—took no action.

In the weeks after the attack, prosecutors confronted a difficult decision: Should Otty Sanchez face criminal charges or be sent to a state hospital for treatment? Despite the evidence that Sanchez was insane at the time of the killing, some in San Antonio openly called for the death penalty. They included Scott Buchholz, who told a San Antonio television reporter in late July that "I think she should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. ... She killed my son. She should burn in hell."

Prosecutors eventually decided to pursue a criminal case. In September, a grand jury indicted Sanchez for capital murder.

In jail, Sanchez has received the counseling and medication to which she had such spotty access on the outside. Her mental condition has stabilized, for the moment. As a result, she's been found competent to stand trial after examinations by experts appointed by both the court and her defense attorney. Examiners concluded that she understood the legal process and the charges against her.

If she remains stable, Sanchez will likely stand trial this summer. Camara plans to have Sanchez plead not guilty by reason of insanity—just as Andrea Yates did. He thinks he has a strong case, but jury trials are unpredictable. Take the Yates case: At her first trial for killing her five children in 2002, she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. That conviction was later overturned on appeal, and in 2006, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty for Sanchez. If they do, the very state that for years offered Otty Sanchez so little treatment and help for her mental illness will try to execute her.


Mother Competent to Stand Trial for Allegedly Decapitating Baby

FoxNews.com

November 12, 2009

Otty Sanchez got six weeks in a state mental hospital after she was found wandering around a drug store last year, shopping for an imaginary trip to China.

She got a few hours in an emergency room, then a ride home, in July as a new mom hearing dark voices.

Three-week-old Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez was dead six days later, decapitated and missing fingers and toes, while police say his mother wailed about how the devil made her do it. A judge ruled Thursday that a jury will decide whether Sanchez is mentally competent to stand trial after Sanchez's attorney said her mental condition is worsening.

"In addition to her psychotic condition, her schizophrenic condition and her postpartum psychotic condition, she may also be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder," Ed Camara, Sanchez's attorney, told the court.

Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the death of her son. His father said Sanchez should "burn in hell" and deserves the death penalty for dismembering their only child. He watched quietly as Sanchez shuffled into court with her head down, wearing glasses and her black hair cropped short.

Two psychiatric evaluations concluded Sanchez was competent to stand trial, but Camara said he received a medical report Tuesday that was more bleak. A date was not immediately set for a jury to settle the issue.

The autopsy report spells out the attack in nauseating detail: mutilated genitals, the head nearly decapitated and the skin flayed. Authorities said Sanchez ate parts of her son, including the brain, and medical examiners found apparent bite marks across the body.

Sanchez's sister made the horrifying discovery before sunrise, and Otty can be heard screaming, "I didn't mean to do it! He told me to!" while her sister pleads for an ambulance in a desperate 911 call. Sanchez later wailed to her sister that she thought everyone was dead.

Bexar County prosecutor Yvonne Gonzalez has said her office would seek the death penalty on the legal presumption that Sanchez was sane. Although prosecutors were still gathering medical records, she said there were signs Sanchez had been "functioning quite well," including holding down a job for several years.

"We're not really sure she had a long history of mental illness," Gonzalez said earlier in the week.

Scott Buccholz, the baby's father and a self-described schizophrenic, insisted that Sanchez had appeared fine and gave no hint of a severe mental illness.

An estimated one in 1,000 women are afflicted with postpartum psychosis. Unlike postpartum depression, which occurs in as many as one in five new mothers, women with postpartum psychosis can suffer dangerous delusions and desires to hurt their child.

The same illness tormented Andrea Yates, the suburban Houston mother who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001, and Dena Schlosser, another Texas mother who cut off her baby's arms in 2004, according to the women's attorneys.

Doctors say the risk of developing postpartum psychosis is 50 percent or higher for women with schizophrenia who are not taking medication. Camara says Sanchez fits the bill: although Sanchez was prescribed the antidepressant citalopram after giving birth, she only took it once — the day before her son was killed. Such drugs take weeks to begin working.

It was one of a handful of times that Sanchez appeared to try reining in her mental illness.

She wound up shuffling around an Austin drug store for eight hours last summer, Camara said, only after going to the city with a friend who said an acupuncturist there could help her mental problems.

A week before the killing, Camara said an ambulance rushed Sanchez to a hospital from a counseling center where she had made an appointment because she was feeling depressed and having hallucinations.

Advocates say resources for indigent women with mental disorders are sparse in Texas, which is ranked 49th in per capita mental health expenditures, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

At the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio, where Camara said Sanchez was referred for outpatient treatment, about 2,000 more people are served each year than the state pays for, CHCS President Leon Evans said.

State mental hospitals are no less overwhelmed.

"My job here is to get people out, bottom line," said Dr. David Gonzalez, a psychiatrist at the San Antonio State Hospital. "They have hired me to treat people so I can get them out of the hospital. I'm here to keep people out."

Recently, Camara said, music coming from a jailhouse speaker triggered Sanchez into a flashback of the night her son died. The hallucinations returned, Camara said, and Sanchez called over a guard for help.

A jailer handed Sanchez some more medication. She calmed down.

"If only that had been available to her that evening," Camara said.


Cannibal mother who decapitated her three-week-old baby boy 'refused medication for post-natal depression'

DailyMail.co.uk

July 29, 2009

The cannibal mother who killed and ate parts of her three-week-old baby boy refused to take medication for her post-natal depression, her son's father said.

Otty Sanchez had been going to regular counselling and had been briefly hospitalised since the boy was born in the Texas city of San Antonio.

But the 33-year-old's troubles only became apparent to authorities when they found her before dawn on Sunday, in a house where she had access to samurai swords, screaming that she had killed her baby.

Her three-and-a-half-week-old son was dismembered in a scene so gruesome police officers have been forced to seek psychological help.

'Maybe we missed' warning signs, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. 'I don't know.'

Sanchez was yesterday released from a hospital where she was treated for self-inflicted cuts to her torso and an attempt to slice her own throat.

The former home health care worker, charged with capital murder, is being held at Bexar County Jail on $1 million bail.

Authorities said Sanchez attempted suicide after butchering her newborn son, Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez, with a steak knife and two swords while her sister and two nieces, ages 5 and 7, slept in another room.

Sanchez told police that the devil made her kill, mutilate and eat parts the child's brain and toes.

Scott W. Buchholz, the infant's father, said he met Sanchez six years ago while they were studying to be pharmacists assistants.

Although his girlfriend had post-natal depression, he revealed that Sanchez only recently told him she was schizophrenic but that she did not appear unstable.

He now wants prosecutors to pursue the death penalty. 'She killed my son. She should burn in hell,' said 33-year-old Buchholz.

Otty Sanchez's medical history is muddled. A family member said Sanchez had undergone psychiatric treatment and that a hospital called looking for her several months ago.

Gloria Sanchez, Otty's aunt, said her niece had been 'in and out of a psychiatric ward.'

'It's just tragic and unbelievable what happened,' said Greg Garcia, Sanchez's first cousin who considers her a sister. 'She was a good, hard-working person, but she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia last year.'

In May 2008, Otty Sanchez's mother, Manuela Sanchez, called police after her daughter didn't return from a trip to Austin, saying she was concerned about her daughter's safety.

Mrs Sanchez said she suspected Otty was into drugs and specifically told police she wasn't suffering from any mental issues.

Buchholz, who is himself schizophrenic and takes six anti-psychotic and anti-convulsive medications, said Otty had post-natal depression and had been going to counselling after the birth, but she refused to take prescription medication for her depression.

'She still seemed like a a very caring, loving mother,' he said.

'She held him, she breast fed him. She did everything for him that was nice,' he added.

Sanchez was taken to the hospital for depression July 20 and released less than a day later, Buchholz said.

The mother told him she was schizophrenic and was going to live with her parents and sister.

Otty Sanchez was treated in hospital for self-inflicted wounds

Sanchez was arrested at her mother's house, where police found her and the dead infant.

On Saturday, Sanchez brought 'Baby Scotty' for a visit but stormed out after Buchholz asked for a copy of the birth certificate and other documents, Buchholz said.

The father called the police to report that Sanchez drove away with the infant without properly restraining him in the car, and deputies investigated it as a disturbance.

'If this guy had given us an indication that she had post-natal depression, or mental defects she was suffering from, we may have addressed it differently,' said Bexar County Sheriff Chief Deputy Dale Bennett.

Buchholz said he may have told the deputy Sanchez was depressed, but that he wasn't sure.

While schizophrenia generally develops in men in their late teens and early 20s, women tend to develop the illness, marked by abnormal impressions of reality, later in life.

Most new mothers suffer from post-natal depression as hormones shift after a pregnancy and they're fatigued handling a new baby.

But as many as one-fifth suffer from the more serious postpartum depression, which includes symptoms like despair and failing to eat or sleep.

Post-natal psychosis is far rarer, affecting only about one woman in 1,000.

Women with post-natal psychosis have delusions, frequently involving religious symbols and a desire to harm their newborn, said Richard Pesikoff, a psychiatry professor at the Baylor College of Medicine.

He testified in the second trial of Andrea Yates, the high-profile case of a Houston-area mother found not guilty by reason of insanity after drowning her five children.

Similar to Sanchez's claim that the devil told her to kill her son, Yates told authorities Satan was inside of her and she was trying to save her children.

'The most common part of post-natal psychosis is the delusional thinking,' said Pesikoff. 'Often but not always, it encompasses some type of religious thought.'

The risk of developing post-natal psychosis is 50 per cent or higher for women with schizophrenia who are not taking medication, said Lucy Puryear, another psychiatrist who was involved in the Yates case.

'It's usually really severe,' said Puryear, who wrote the book, 'Understanding Your Moods When You're Expecting.'

'The scary thing is that the delusions are usually always about the baby,' she said. 'In all of the (high profile) cases, the thinking involves the babies: The mother had to kill the baby to protect it, or God has spoken to the mother and there is a mission to kill the baby or sometimes the baby is the devil who needs to be gotten rid of to save the world,' she said.

She worked until about two weeks before she gave birth. Acquaintances described Sanchez and her mother as devout Jehovah's Witnesses.'They would come up to our door every so often, but I told them I was Catholic, so they left,' said Elaine Calchin.

Buchholz's mother, Kathleen, said she had no idea that Sanchez had been diagnosed with the same mental illness her son had.

She thought that baby Scotty was the best thing that could have happened to the troubled couple. She is not sure what should happen to the baby's mother.

'I have mixed emotions,' she said. 'She needs to stay under psychiatric care. I love her. She was like a daughter. I don't want her out at this point, but that may change.'


Otty Sanchez: 'I Didn't Mean To Do It'

By Paul J. Weber - HuffingtonPost.com

July 29, 2009

A Texas mother accused of decapitating her 3-week-old son screams "I didn't mean to do it. He told me to!" while her sister pleads for an ambulance to bring help in a desperate four-minute 911 call released Wednesday.

Otty Sanchez, who police say told them the devil made her kill and mutilate her only child, cries "I love him" and says she's stabbed herself in the heart and stomach while her sister tries calming down the 33-year-old mother.

At one point during the frantic call, Priscilla Garcia tries reassuring her sister that she is alive. "Otty, this time I told you to come to me," Garcia says.

"I tried, but you told me that you died," Sanchez responds.

"I'm not dead, Otty," Garcia says. "I'm standing right here talking to you."

Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the slaying of Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez, who authorities found decapitated and grossly mutilated in a bedroom of her sister's house early Sunday. Police say Sanchez chewed off three of her infant's toes and ate parts of the brain. She used a knife and two swords in the attack, according to police.

Garcia tells the dispatcher that her sister has stabbed her child and that blood is all over the bed.

"She's gone crazy last night. She was hearing voices," Garcia says. "She kept bringing me the baby. And finally she calmed down and I took her back the baby. And now I just woke up to hear screaming."

She continues, "The baby is dead. The baby's dead. Please, somebody come."

During the call, the dispatcher instructs Garcia not to touch the baby or anything in the area. The call ends with the dispatcher saying help is on the way.

Sanchez, who had been hospitalized after the killing, was being held on $1 million bond at the Bexar County jail. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether she had an attorney.

Scott W. Buchholz, the infant's father, said Sanchez suffered from postpartum depression and that she told him she was schizophrenic a week before the slaying. Buchholz, who said he also is schizophrenic, said he wants her to receive the death penalty.

A family member has said Sanchez had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and that a hospital called looking for her several months ago. Gloria Sanchez, the mother's aunt, said her niece had been "in and out of a psychiatric ward."

In May 2008, Otty Sanchez's mother, Manuela Sanchez, called police after her daughter didn't return from a trip to Austin, saying she was concerned about her daughter's safety. Manuela Sanchez told police she suspected her daughter was into drugs and specifically told police she wasn't suffering from any mental issues.

Buchholz last saw Sanchez and his son the day before the killing. He said Sanchez had moved in with her parents a week earlier, leaving him July 20 after being briefly hospitalized for depression but released that same day.

Sanchez brought "Baby Scotty" over to see his father the day before the slaying, and Buchholz said she became irate when he asked for copies of the birth certificate and other documents, then left in a huff with the baby.

Priscilla Garcia called 911 before 5 a.m. the next morning. Police say the killing took place in a bedroom and that no one else was injured.


Call to 911 about Canibalized Baby

Mike360.Hubpages.com

The following is the transcript from the chilling 911 call made Sunday, July 26th 2009 around 5am. The sister of Otty Sanchez phones for help after discovering that Otty has destroyed and devoured her 3 week old baby.

SAN ANTONIO 911.

I need an ambulance as quickly as possible at (garbled, as line is disconnected and re-dialed). Oh, my God!

-SAN ANTONIO FIRE AND EMS. HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

I need an ambulance at **** Wayside Drive as soon as possible.

-AT **** WAYSIDE?

Yes.

-IS THAT A HOUSE OR AN APARTMENT?

It's a house. It's an emergency. (garbled. In the background you can almost hear someone saying "I can't believe it.")

-AND WHAT'S GOING ON? WHAT'S THE EMERGENCY?

I'm sorry.

-WHAT'S THE EMERGENCY? WHAT'S GOING ON?

My sister has hurt her child.

-HELLO?

Hello.

-TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON? DON'T TALK TO THE OTHER PEOPLE. TALK TO ME.

My sister has has hurt her child has seriously hurt her child.

-HOW DID SHE DO THAT? WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE CHILD?

The baby is dead! She has...she has....

-WHAT DID YOU SAY?

The baby is dead! Please come quickly. (garbled)

-HOW OLD IS THE BABY?

The baby is three weeks, not even three weeks old.

-THREE WEEKS OLD?

Not even three weeks old. Please!

-WHAT DID SHE DO TO HIM?

Oh, she...

-OR HER?

She stabbed him. There's blood all over the bed. There's... I don't know. Please...

-ALRIGHT, MA'AM. STAY ON THE LINE WITH ME. I'M GOING TO CONNECT YOU UP TO THE POLICE, OKAY? STAY ON THE LINE.

-(F) EMS, I'M HERE.

-(M) ALRIGHT, GO AHEAD.

-(F) MA'AM, WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

My name is Priscilla Garcia.

-WHERE'S YOUR SISTER AT?

She's just sitting on the couch. I'm sorry.

-PRISCILLA, WHERE'S YOUR SISTER AT?

She's just sitting on the couch. She's just gone crazy last night. She's hearing voices, she kept bringing me the baby, and finally she calmed down, so I took her back the baby, and now I just woke up to hear screaming.

-HOW OLD IS THE BABY?

Not even three weeks old! He, he, he...the baby's dead! The baby's dead! Please! Somebody come!

-OK, THEY'RE ON THEIR WAY TO YOU, OKAY?

Oh, I need the keys so I can open the front door. Oh, my God!

-(M) MA'AM?

Yes. Yes.

-(M) DO NOT TOUCH THE BABY. DON'T DISTURB ANYTHING IN THE AREA THERE, OKAY?

My mom, my mom was holding the baby. My mom was holding the baby. (garbled...)

-ALRIGHT. ALRIGHT MA'AM. EVERYBODY IS ON THE WAY TO HELP YOU, OKAY?

I need to find the keys to open the front door. (Dog barking.) Gah. (Screaming in the background.) No. No, Otty, nobody's dead. It's okay, baby. Just stay right there.

-(F) IS THAT YOUR SISTER?

(Priscilla) Yes. (Dog barking and garbled voices in the background.) Oh, I can't believe it.

(Otty garbled) ... I stabbed myself in the stomach.

(Priscilla) You stabbed yourself?

(Otty) Yes.

(Priscilla) Oh, my God, I can't believe it.

(Otty) I stabbed my neck and face.

(Priscilla) Otty, this time I told you to come to me.

(Otty) (garbled) I tried but he told me that you died. (garbled) [OR] "I tried but you were telling me that you died ..(inaudible) you killed your kids and you were dead"

(Priscilla) I'm not dead, Otty. I'm standing right here talking to you.

-(F) PRISCILLA?

-Yes.

-WHERE DID SHE STAB HERSELF?

-(Priscilla) In the heart and in the stomach. She says... (garbled) I see a stab wound in her heart, yes.

-YOUR SISTER?

Yes. I'm looking at her now, yes.

-EMS?

(heavy breathing)

-ALRIGHT, THEY ARE ON THEIR WAY, OKAY?

-(Priscilla) I love my daughter. Oh, my God!

(background Otty ) I loved him. (garbled) I loved him.

(Priscilla) Momma, calm down!

(Otty) I didn't mean to do it. He told me to. Oh, hurry.

(Priscilla) Mom, I'm on the phone with EMS right now. I can't call him right now.

-MA'AM?

Yes?

-I'M GOING TO GO AHEAD AND LET YOU GO, OKAY? THEY'RE ON THEIR WAY.

Alright, bye bye.


Otty Sanchez, Woman Accused Of Killing Newborn, Ate Brain: Police

By Paul J. Weber - HuffingtonPost.com

July 27, 2009

SAN ANTONIO — The scene was so gruesome investigators could barely speak: A 3 1/2-week-old boy lay dismembered in the bedroom of a single-story house, three of his tiny toes chewed off, his face torn away, his head severed and his brains ripped out.

"At this particular scene you could have heard a pin drop," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Monday. "No one was speaking. It was about as somber as it could have been."

Officers called to the home early Sunday found the boy's mother, Otty Sanchez, sitting on the couch with a self-inflicted wound to her chest and her throat partially slashed, screaming "I killed my baby! I killed my baby!" police said. She told officers the devil made her do it, police said.

Sanchez, 33, apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts before stabbing herself, McManus said.

"It's too heinous for me to describe it any further," McManus told reporters.

Sanchez is charged with capital murder in the death of her son, Scott Wesley Buccholtz-Sanchez. She was being treated Monday at a hospital, and was being held on $1 million bail.

The slaying occurred a week after the child's father moved out, McManus said. Otty Sanchez's sister and her sister's two children, ages 5 and 7, were in the house, but none were harmed.

Police said Sanchez did not have an attorney, and they declined to identify family members.

No one answered the door Monday at Sanchez's home, where the blinds were shut. A hopscotch pattern and red hearts were drawn on the walk leading up to the house.

Sanchez's aunt, Gloria Sanchez, said her niece had been "in and out" of a psychiatric ward but did not say where she was treated or why. She said a hospital called several months ago to check up on her.

"Otty didn't mean to do that. She was not in her right mind," a sobbing Gloria Sanchez told The Associated Press on Monday by phone. She said her family was devastated.

Investigators are looking into Sanchez's mental health history to see if there was anything "significant," and whether postpartum difficulties could have factored into the attack, McManus said.

Postpartum depression and psychosis have been cited as contributing factors in several other cases in Texas in recent years in which mothers killed their children.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in her Houston-area home 2001, saying she believed Satan was inside her and trying to save them from hell. Her attorneys said she had been suffering from severe postpartum psychosis, and a jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006.

In 2004, Dena Schlosser killed her 10-month-old in her Plano home by slicing off the baby's arms. She was found not guilty of reason by insanity, after testifying that she killed the baby because she wanted to give her to God.

Sanchez's neighbors expressed sorrow and horror Monday at the grisly killing.

Neighbor Luis Yanez, 23, said his kids went to school with one of the small children who lived at the house. He said he often saw a woman playing outside with the children but didn't know whether it was Otty.

"Why would you do that to your baby?" said Yanez, a tire technician. "It brings chills to you. They can't defend themselves."

Allen Taylor, another neighbor, said "once she gets back in her right mind, she's going to be devastated."

___

Associated Press researcher Susan James in New York and writer Angela K. Brown in Fort Worth contributed to this report.


Police:  Mother says devil made her kill baby

3 1/2 week-old infant found stabbed and decapitated in Texas home

Msnbc.msn.com

July 26, 2009

Police said they found a 3 1/2-week-old infant stabbed and decapitated in a Texas home on Sunday and his mother screaming that she killed her son after the devil told her to do it.

Otty Sanchez, 33, of San Antonio, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition with self-inflicted stab wounds to her chest and stomach, said San Antonio police spokesman Joe Rios. Investigators took a sword, a machete and a kitchen knife from the home.

Officers also found two children unharmed at the home, though it wasn't immediately clear where they were taken.

Sanchez will be charged with capital murder, Rios said. Police said they didn't know whether she had an attorney. A spokeswoman at University Hospital in San Antonio said she couldn't release information on Sanchez's condition, but Sgt. Wes McCourt said her wounds didn't appear to be life threatening.

Rios said Sanchez was sitting on the couch "screaming that she killed her baby," who police identified as Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez, when police were called to the home around 5 a.m. Sunday.

"She mentioned that someone or something told her to do it, she was hearing voices. So that leads us to believe that she was experiencing some type of mental crisis," Rios said. "The baby had obviously been decapitated."

McCourt said she told investigators that the devil told her to kill her son.

The infant's body was found mutilated in a bedroom. He likely died earlier Sunday morning, police said.

A woman who answered the phone Sunday at the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office said she couldn't release information about the baby's cause of death.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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