|Alma mater||Marist College|
|Denomination||Water of Life Church|
|Children||Margaret, 2 other daughters|
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. Hours after her arrest, police heard her repeatedly chanting, "Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord."
At age 8, Schlosser was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she underwent seven brain surgeries in which doctors drained the fluid from her brain. She had eight surgeries to implant shunts into her brain, heart and abdomen before she was 13 years old. The kids at school made fun of her shaved head. Schlosser graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She met her husband John Schlosser when they were both students at Marist. Dena graduated but John did not. They moved to Texas. Dena wanted to work but John would not allow her to.
Schlosser had been investigated earlier that year by the Texas Child Protective Services after she was hospitalized for a psychotic episode. CPS ordered that she could not be alone with her children. John's sister came to live with them until CPS lifted the order. She killed Margaret the following day; her other two daughters were not harmed.
The day before Schlosser attacked her daughter Margaret, Dena had told John that she wanted to "give the baby to Doyle," their pastor. She was convinced Maggie, the child, was supposed to marry Doyle. Later that day, according to a confidential CPS report, John spanked Dena with a wooden spoon in front of their children.
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. There, she was a roommate of Andrea Yates, the Houston woman who had drowned her five children in a bathtub, which she says was done to protect them from Satan.
During the trial, much attention was drawn to Dena and her husband John attending Water of Life Church, a charismatic church pastored by veterinary physician Doyle Davidson. Schlosser had been taking antipsychotic drugs for several years prior to the death of Margaret, and Davidson's teachings that mental illness is demonic partly led her husband John to not buy her medication regularly. Under oath, Davidson testified that in his view, all mental illness is demonic at bottom.
After Dena Schlosser's arrest, her children were taken by CPS and kept in foster care. John underwent a psychological evaluation, where he was diagnosed with "narcissistic personality traits." The psychological report also stated that John didn't do enough to protect his daughters from his mentally ill wife. CPS said they would only allow John to regain custody of his daughters under the condition that his sister live with the family, that he completed psychotherapy and parenting classes. He obliged and got his daughters back in his home.
John Schlosser subsequently 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 ever 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 Schlosser was recommitted after firefighters from Richardson, Texas saw her walking down the street at 2:00 a.m. Her attorney, David Haynes, said that he felt the judge made the correct decision.
Schlosser was later released to outpatient status. She stayed out of the public eye until 2012, when WFAA-TV in Dallas reported that Schlosser, now going by her maiden name of Laettner, was working at a Walmart in Terrell, east of Dallas. Within hours of this news report, Walmart fired Schlosser.
In the media
Schlosser is cited by atheist writer/director Brian Flemming, who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, as one of a series of people who committed and or incited others to commit crimes under the pretext of them being divinely inspired. Scholsser's caption reads, "Devout Christian; Cut her baby's arms off, for God". Charles Manson, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (the authors of the Left Behind series of books), and the victims of the Branch Davidian church fire in Waco, Texas (described as "86 crispy fans of similar apocalyptic literature") are also shown.
- "Mother Says God Told Her to Cut Baby". The Washington Post. 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Velez-Mitchell, Jane (2007). Secrets Can Be Murder: What America’s Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves. New York City: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743299361.
- Glenna Whitley (2006-05-18). "The Devil and Doyle Davidson - News - Dallas". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
- MSNBC News (2004-11-23). "Mother confesses to severing baby's arms". Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- "Psychologist says Schlosser didn't do enough to protect slain daughter". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 2005-02-11. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
- "Dena Schlosser Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity". OTB News. 2006-04-08. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- "Schlosser case ends with insanity ruling". Dallas News. 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
- "Schlosser and Yates find solace in friendship". Dallas Morning News. 2006-04-08. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Whitley, Galena. The Devil and Doyle Davidson. Dallas Observer, 2006-05-18.
- "Dena Schlosser, Plano mom who cut off baby's arms, moving to outpatient care". Dallas Morning News. 2008-11-08. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
- Mom Who Cut Off Baby's Arms Back in Hospital NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
- Shipp, Brett; Woodard, Teresa. Mother who killed her child found working in area Walmart. WFAA-TV, 2012-08-06.
- Brian Flemming. The God Who Wasn't There (DVD). Beyond Belief Media.