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"Texas seems to be a lightning rod,"


glutes
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DALLAS (AP) -- When a mother admitted killing her baby daughter by severing the child's arms this week, she joined a high-profile list of Texas women with histories of mental illness who have killed their children in gruesome fashion.

 

The state has had at least four similar cases in recent years. Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family's Houston bathtub in 2001. (Full story)

 

Deanna Laney bashed her three sons' skulls with rocks last year, killing two and maiming a toddler. She said God told her to do it. (Full story)

 

A mother from suburban Dallas drowned her daughters last fall, and a woman in Brownsville is accused of helping her common-law husband behead her three children.

 

In all the cases, the women had some sort of mental illness in their past.

 

The killings have been brutal, but legal and psychiatric experts say such cases are no more common here than in other states.

 

They note that several factors have caused Texas to get more attention on the issue, including intense media coverage following the Yates case that may have created an illusion that Texas has more mothers killing children.

 

"Texas seems to be a lightning rod," said George Parnham, the Houston attorney who defended Yates. "I don't necessarily go with the idea that we're wackos down here."

 

Dena Schlosser, 35, was charged with capital murder Monday after calmly telling a 911 operator that she had cut off the arms of 11-month-old Margaret. Police found Schlosser sitting in her living room, covered in blood, a church hymn playing in the background.

 

Schlosser's husband, John, told an official with Texas' Family and Protective Services that his wife had referenced a Bible scripture the night before the killing and said she wanted to "give her children to God," according to an affidavit that led a judge to award the agency temporary custody of the couple's two older children.

 

Schlosser had a history of postpartum depression, a disorder that can occur in women after they give birth.

 

Her mental history and her 911 confession are similar to Yates. And the method Schlosser used shared the bizarre, brutal nature of Laney's rocks and Yates' systematic drowning.

 

"To actually sever the arms suggests something special was going on," said psychiatrist Phillip Resnick, who testified in the trials of Laney and Yates. "It suggests on its face that there was some specialized psychotic thinking, but you just don't know."

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