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
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
But psychiatrists have declared her not to be a
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
Still, he told the newspaper he
can't disagree with a judge's decision to send her back into a state
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
''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
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
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
''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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
After the father's call, day-care workers called
the police-fire emergency number and an operator then phoned the
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,
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
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,
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.