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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Parricide - Postnatal depression - She told that God told her to do it
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 22, 2004
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1969
Victim profile: Her eleven-month-old daughter, Margaret
Method of murder: Cutting off her arms with a knife
Location: Plano, Texas, USA
Status: Found not guilty by reason of insanity on April 7, 2006 and committed to the North Texas State Hospital. Released in December 2008. Recommitted in April 2010. Released in 2011

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Dena Schlosser (born 1969) is a Plano, Texas woman who, on November 22, 2004, amputated the arms of her eleven-month-old daughter, Margaret, with a knife. Plano police responded to a 9-1-1 call made by concerned workers at a local day care center who had spoken to Schlosser earlier that day. The 9-1-1 operator testified that Schlosser confessed to her and that the gospel song, "He Touched Me" played in the background. When police arrived, they saw Schlosser covered in blood and calmly sitting holding the knife singing Christian hymns.

Schlosser had been investigated earlier that year by the Texas Child Protective Services, who had decided she did not pose a risk to her children. The baby died the following day; her other two daughters were not harmed.

Psychiatrist David Self testified that Schlosser told him that she had interpreted a television news story about a boy being mauled by a lion as a sign of the coming apocalypse and that she had heard God commanding her to remove her baby's arm and then her own. The attack was later described as "religious frenzy". Self determined that Dena Schlosser suffered from postpartum psychosis.

She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to the North Texas State Hospital and ordered to stay there until she is deemed to no longer be a threat to herself or others. Coincidentally, she was a roommate of Andrea Yates, the Houston, Texas woman who had drowned her five children in a bathtub, which she says was done to protect them from Satan.

John Schlosser, Dena Schlosser's husband, later filed for divorce. As part of the divorce settlement, Dena Schlosser was prohibited from having any contact with either her ex-husband or her daughters again.

On November 6, 2008, it was announced that Dena Schlosser would shortly be released into outpatient care. The order required her to see a psychiatrist once a week, take medication, be on physician-approved birth control, and not have any unsupervised contact with children.

In April 2010, it was reported that Dena Schlosser has been recommitted after firefighters from Richardson, Texas saw her walking on a street at 2:00 a.m. Her attorney, David Haynes, said that he felt the judge made the correct decision.


Texas mom who killed her child found working at Walmart

By Brett Shipp & Teresa Woodard /

August 7, 2012

DALLAS -- This past weekend, one Terrell Walmart shopper snapped a photo of a checkout cashier whose face she found familiar. Hours later, her suspicions were confirmed.

She had just encountered one of the most notorious characters in North Texas of the past decade: Dena Schlosser, the former Collin County mother who in 2004, used a knife to sever her 10-month-old daughter's arms during a religious frenzy. She said God had told her to.

"I cut her arms off," Schlosser told a police dispatcher in November 2004.

"You cut her arms off?" he asked.

"Mmmhmm," she repeated.

Schlosser was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.

In 2006, a judge found Schlosser not guilty, by reason of insanity. She was put in a mental institution.

In 2008, the judge, based on doctors' recommendations, agreed to let Schlosser out of the institution as an outpatient. She had to follow strict guidelines, but she got a job. She was working when the outpatient status was revoked in 2010. She was then re-institutionalized at Terrell State Hospital. She is now back on outpatient status.

In late June, she was hired by Walmart as a store associate.

But psychiatrists have declared her not to be a risk.

Still, word spread quickly on the Internet, and area residents we talked with expressed concerns.

“For her to be in the hospital for such a short time, and then have the freedom that you and I enjoy, after what she did, I think is a shame and there should be an outcry from the public,” said Natalie Elmoghrabi, a former Terrell resident who was in town for the day.

Others expressed disappointment in Walmart for hiring someone who committed such an act.

"I think they would have delved farther into, or something wasn't disclosed maybe,” said Kaufman resident Rebecca Rodden. “Maybe Walmart just doesn’t know.”

Late Monday, Walmart confirmed that Schlosser, going now by the name Laettner, was hired in June.

"Mrs. Laettner is no longer employed by the company," said Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesman.

Lopez defended Walmart’s employment of Schlosser.

"All associates must pass a criminal background check as a condition of employment,” Lopez said. “If a charge does not result in a conviction, then we have no way of knowing an applicant’s previous criminal charges."

They fired Schlosser sometime before Monday.

As to why the state has cleared Schlosser to mix with the general population, Department of State Health Services officials say patients are thoroughly assessed before a judge grants permission for their work release.

Former Dallas County prosecutor Toby Shook did not try the Schlosser case.

The crime happened in Collin County, but Shook has had decades of trial experience. He said because Schlosser has no felony conviction to a point, "she has the same rights as everyone else, though the judge will always retain jurisdiction."

"Just like you might have a relative committed that's become mentally unbalanced if they prove to be dangerous, it's the same criteria in this case," he said. "Primarily, what a judge has to rely on are the doctors that are taking care of the person and any other experts that can give reports and testimony at a hearing."

Shook said it's understandable why some would feel uneasy about Schlosser's employment.

"You have a horrible, horrible crime that occurred," he said. "You naturally want that person brought to justice or locked up for the rest of their lives, but that person is suffering from a mental disease. They weren't acting in their right mind."

"So we've reached this compromise in the law where they're found not guilty," Shook continued. "They're not legally responsible, but a judge retains jurisdiction, so that hopefully society can be protected from something like this happening again."

The State of Texas said the goal for patients in mental care facilities is for them to get better, so as they progress, they are given opportunities to re-integrate with society.

Shook said because Schlosser was found not guilty, she still has freedom, but a judge will always determine how much.


Mom Who Cut Off Baby's Arms Back in Hospital

By Jane Geelan-Sayres

April 24, 2010

Dena Schlosser, the Plano mother, who killed her baby by cutting off her arms in 2004, was ordered back to a state mental hospital.

In March, Richardson firefighters found Schlosser walking down the street at 2 a.m., according to the Dallas Morning News.

Her attorney told the Dallas Morning News, she had been free on an outpatient maintenance basis, until recently had held down a job and had been abiding by her treatment.

Still, he told the newspaper he can't disagree with a judge's decision to send her back into a state hospital.

Schlosser  was arrested in November 2004, after telling police she used a kitchen knife to cut off her 10-month-old daughter's arms. She later told psychiatrists that God told her to do it.

Schlosser was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006 and was sent to Rusk State Hospital where she received treatment until 2008.

She has two older children she is forbidden from seeing, a condition in her 2007 divorce decree.

Schlosser was formally ordered back to Terrell State Hospital Thursday.


Mother who cut off baby's arms acquitted by reason of insanity

By Julia Glick, Associated Press

The Boston Globe

April 8, 2006

McKINNEY, Texas -- A mother charged with murder for cutting off her baby daughter's arms in what her lawyers portrayed as a religious frenzy was found not guilty by reason of insanity yesterday by a judge.

Dena Schlosser, 38, will be sent to a state mental hospital and held until she is no longer deemed a threat to herself or others.

''My own expectation is that she will remain at the hospital for many, many years," defense lawyer David Haynes said.

Police arrested Schlosser in 2004 after she told a 911 operator she had severed her baby's arms. Officers found the 10-month-old baby, Margaret, near death in her crib and Schlosser covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn.

In issuing the verdict, Judge Chris Oldner said Schlosser had met the legal standard for insanity, but did not elaborate. Both the defense and the prosecution had agreed to let the judge decide the case after Schlosser's previous trial ended in a deadlocked jury in February.

Last week it was disclosed that Schlosser had a brain tumor that defense lawyers said could have caused hallucinations.

Schlosser glanced toward her former stepfather but said nothing as she was led away.

''We have a just verdict in a just case, but yes, it is bittersweet," her lawyer said. ''She feels it is her best chance to get better."

The case hinged on whether Schlosser was unable to grasp the wrongfulness of the crime -- the Texas standard for insanity.

The judge relied on evidence he had heard during the first trial. Among other things, psychiatrists said Schlosser suffered severe mood swings and religious hallucinations. One doctor said Schlosser told him she wanted to cut off her baby's arms and her own limbs and head and give them to God.

But prosecutor Curtis Howard said the fact Schlosser told her husband that she had ''killed the baby" proved she knew what she was doing. ''This is a case that could have gone both ways; we knew that," Howard said after the verdict.

Schlosser's brain tumor did not become an issue until last week. A witness in her first trial alluded to a possible brain lesion, but miscommunication between doctors delayed confirmation by a neurologist until weeks after the mistrial.

Bob Nicholas, Schlosser's former stepfather and the only relative in attendance yesterday, said the verdict was the best possible outcome.

''This whole case, this whole situation with Dena, was a tragedy," Nicholas said. ''We've got the loss of Maggie, who never reached her first birthday. We've got two little girls coping with the loss of their sister and of a loving, caring mother."

John Schlosser, Schlosser's husband, has filed for divorce and has custody of the couple's other daughters.

In another similar Texas case, a jury rejected an insanity defense in 2002 from Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children in the bathtub. She won a new trial on appeal and will again use an insanity defense in June.


Mother Says God Told Her to Cut Baby

February 21, 2006

McKINNEY, Tex. -- A woman accused of killing her 10-month-old daughter felt that God was commanding her to cut off the baby's arms as well as her own limbs, a state psychiatrist testified Monday.

Dena Schlosser saw a TV news story about a boy being mauled by a lion and thought it was a sign of the apocalypse, a delusion that led her to sever the arms of her baby, David Self said.

"She felt she was basically commanded, in essence, to cut Maggie's arms off and her own arms off, and her legs and her head, and in some way to give them to God," said Self, who evaluated Schlosser in the months after her arrest.

Police found Schlosser in her living room, covered in blood, still holding a knife and listening to a hymn. She had sliced deep into her own shoulder and chopped off her baby's arms. Schlosser, 37, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and her attorneys are trying to prove she did not know right from wrong when Margaret, also known as Maggie, was killed.

Prosecutors, who are not seeking the death penalty, argue Schlosser knew what she was doing and should be sent to prison for life. If found not guilty, Schlosser would be hospitalized.


Husband Testifies in Case of Woman Who Cut Off Baby's Arms

February 14, 2006

A woman accused of killing her infant daughter by cutting off the girl's arms had said a few days earlier that she wanted to "give the baby to God," her husband testified Tuesday.

Dena Schlosser, 37, was leaving church about a week before the girl's November 2004 death when she said she wanted to give Maggie to pastor Doyle Davidson, John Schlosser said.

"She said, 'I want to give the baby to Doyle.' She said 'I want to give the baby to God,"' said Schlosser, who has filed for divorce.

He also testified at his wife's murder trial that she showed other disturbing behavior following Maggie's birth — including cutting her own wrists with scissors — but that he didn't worry too much or take her to counseling. John Schlosser said she had had bouts with depression after the birth of their other two daughters.

The testimony came on the second day of Dena Schlosser's murder trial, which hinges on whether she knew right from wrong. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

The defense has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dena Schlosser was arrested in 2004 after she told a 911 operator she had severed her baby's arms. Police found Schlosser in the living room, covered in blood, still holding a knife.

On Monday, she slumped forward and stared at her hands as prosecutors played jurors the recording of the 911 call.

"Exactly what happened?" 911 operator Steve Edwards asked.

"I cut her arms off," Schlosser replied as a gospel song played in the background.

After her arrest, Schlosser was diagnosed with manic depression. In February 2005, a jury deliberated only a few minutes before deciding Schlosser was mentally incompetent to stand trial and she was committed to North Texas State Hospital. But in May, a judge decided Schlosser was competent.

Her two surviving daughters, ages 6 and 9, are in their father's custody.

Schlosser had been accused of child neglect in the months before Margaret's death, but a state investigation found she did not pose a risk to the 10-month-old or her other two daughters.

Texas' troubled Child Protective Services came under intense scrutiny after a number of high-profile child abuse deaths, including the Schlosser case.

The Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees CPS, laid out more than 160 recommendations last year to overhaul the agency.


I wanted to give my child to God: killer mother

November 25, 2004

The night before a Texan woman killed her 10-month-old daughter, she told her husband she wanted to "give her child to God".

Court documents say that the following morning, 35-year-old Dena Schlosser called her husband, John, at work.

She told him she had cut off the arms of their youngest daughter, Margaret Elizabeth.

Child Protective Services took custody of the couple's surviving daughters, ages 6 and 9, when their mother was charged with capital murder on Monday.

The agency asked a judge to terminate the parental rights of both parents, stating that Schlosser did not protect Margaret from his wife.

Caseworker Jennifer Leung interviewed Schlosser and, according to an affidavit, said: "He did not appear to be alarmed by the comment or see it as a sign that Schlosser would harm their child."

Schlosser worked at Children's World Learning Centre in Plano before the birth of her daughter in January.

Records show she was treated for postnatal depression for much the year and was deemed stable in August. Schlosser does not have a criminal record.

Her husband phoned the day-care centre on Monday morning after his wife called him and told him she had cut the baby's arms off, court records say.

He asked a woman there to check on his wife while he drove home from work.

According to a 911 recording, a dispatcher called Schlosser, who said: "I cut her arms off."

When police arrived, Schlosser still had a knife in her hand, court records show. Plano Officer David Tilley coaxed the knife away from her. Police found baby Margaret lying in her crib in the back bedroom, her arms severed at the shoulders.

Plano police said on Tuesday they were still searching for answers as to why Schlosser might hurt her baby.

"We don't know," Plano police spokesman Officer Carl Duke said somberly. "It's still too soon for that."

Schlosser has not co-operated with investigators beyond her initial statement, police said.

Investigators who searched the Schlossers' apartment took three Bibles, a letter from the Child Protection Service, linens, a piece of carpet, a Winnie the Pooh rug and a computer, according to an inventory filed with the court.


Depressed mother cuts off baby's arms

November 24, 2004

A woman with a history of postnatal depression told an emergency operator she had cut off the arms of her baby daughter, then waited calmly until police arrived.

She was charged with murder after the child died in hospital on Tuesday.

Authorities found Dena Schlosser, 35, and her fatally injured 11-month-old baby after the child's father called a day-care centre and asked them to check on his wife and daughter in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

Schlosser sat calmly in the living room when officers arrived. Her clothes were covered in blood and the baby lay in her crib in a back bedroom.

Schlosser told police she was responsible for the baby's injuries but declined to elaborate, police said.

They did not say whether investigators recovered a knife or another weapon.

"It doesn't appear to be accidental. Both arms were completely severed," police officer Carl Duke said. "She was not talking when she left here. She was very quiet, subdued."

Plano police said the child's injuries were horrifying.

"I've never had to face anything like this before," said Detective Bryan Wood. "And, frankly, I'd never want to. My sympathies go out to the family, and to the first responders on the scene."

After the father's call, day-care workers called the police-fire emergency number and an operator then phoned the mother.

The operator asked Schlosser if there was an emergency, according to audiotapes obtained by Dallas-Fort Worth TV station KDFW. Schlosser calmly responded: "Yes."

"Exactly what happened?" the operator asked.

"I cut her arms off," Schlosser replied, as the hymn He Touched Me played in the background.

Child-protection authorities said the mother had shown signs of postnatal depression earlier this year, but there had been no signs of violence.

Schlosser lived at the apartment with other family members, including her two older daughters.

The girls, aged 6 and 9, were at school and their father was at work when police arrived, Officer Duke said.

Texas Child Protective Services was called to the home in January after Schlosser was seen running down the street from her apartment, with one of her daughters, then 5, bicycling after her, authorities said.

When police and child protection officers arrived, the child told them her mother had left her then six-day-old baby sister alone in the apartment.

Schlosser appeared at the time to be suffering from postnatal depression and seemed to be having a psychotic episode, said Marissa Gonzales, a child protection spokeswoman.

At the time Schlosser was hospitalised for a few days. Her other two daughters were released to their father, who told authorities Schlosser had been acting strangely since the birth of the third child.

Once she was released from the hospital, Schlosser agreed to seek counselling and see a psychiatrist, Ms Gonzales said.

Caseworkers continued to visit the family through the spring and summer, and the case was closed August 9.

"There were never any indications of violence with this family," Ms Gonzales said. "The children had always been healthy, happy and cared for."

Ms Gonzales said child protection officers were interviewing Schlosser's other children and would talk to the father before deciding whether to remove the children from the home.

Neighbours said she seemed to be a loving, attentive mother.

Dena Livingston, 43, said she saw Schlosser making her rounds with the stroller on Monday. She saw her on Friday waiting with her baby outside the school the older girls attend.

"She didn't give off like she was in a distant world or didn't care about the baby," Ms Livingston said.



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