Margaret Elizabeth Schlosser
January 13, 2004 - November 22, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial

Early in the year 2004, Child Protective Services visited the home of Dena Schlosser when a call came in saying that Dena was running down the street and one of her daughters was following her on a bike. Dena had left six day old Margaret alone in their apartment. CPS decided that Dena was suffering from Postnatal Depression, but the children in the home didn't appear to be in any danger, once again CPS would be proven wrong. Marissa Gonzales, spokeswoman for CPS said that Dena seemed to be suffering from a psychotic episode and she was put in to the hospital for a few days. CPS would visit the family for several months before closing the case in August:

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

John Schlosser called the day care center and asked that they check on his family who lived in an apartment with other family members. John had received a call from his wife who said she had hurt their daughter. After calling the daycare center, John started on his way home. A 911 operator called Dena and asked if there was an emergency in the home to which Dena simply replied "Yes". When asked what had happened, Dena told the operator "I cut her arms off", the hymn "He Touched Me" could be heard playing in the background. Police arrived at the home and what they found was horrifying. Dena, who was 35 years old at the time, was sitting in the living room, looking very calm as though nothing had happened. Dena was covered in blood and Police found Margaret, he 11 month old daughter, laying in her crib in her bedroom. Dena admitted that she had hurt her daughter, but said nothing more:

"It doesn't appear to be accidental. Both arms were completely severed. She was
not talking when she left here. She was quiet and subdued"
Carl Duke - Police Officer

First responders said that the scene they walked in to was horrifying:

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

Neighbors said that Dena always appeared to be a very loving mother and she would be seen waiting outside of the school, with the baby in a stroller, picking up her two older daughters:

"She didn't give off like she was in a distant world or didn't care about the baby"
Dena L.

Dena was arrested and charged with murder and it was revealed that the night before, she had told John that she wanted to give their child to God. CPS took the remaining two girls into their custody saying that John had failed to protect them from their mother. A judge was asked to terminate the parental rights of both parents and CPS said that John had failed Margaret after Dena had told him she wanted to give her to God:

"He did not appear to be alarmed by the comment or see it as a sign that Schlosser would
harm their child"
Affidavit

Dena had been an employee at a Children's World Learning Center before Margaret was born and she had no prior criminal record. Police were trying to figure out why Dena had hurt Margaret, who died the day after she was found:

"We don't know, it's still soon for that"
Officer Carl Duke

Dena had given no reason up to that point for what she had done. Police found three Bibles in the home and along with the Bibles, they took a letter from CPS, linens, part of a carpet, a Winnie The Pooh rug and a computer from the home.

In February of 2006, John testified in court that about a week before Dena had killed their daughter by cutting off her arms, Dena had said that she wanted to give their daughter to their Pastor, Doyle Davison:

"She said, I want to give the baby to Doyle. I want to give the baby to God"

John said that Dena had been showing signs of being disturbed, she had tried to cut her wrists with scissors and seemed to be depressed, but it wasn't enough that he was concerned about the welfare of his her or his children. Dena sat in court, looking down as the tape of the 911 call was played.

Dena had been diagnosed with Manic Depression and in February of 2005 a jury decided that Dena was not fit to stand trial and she was committed to a mental hospital. In May of 2006, a Judge decided she was fit to stand trial and she plead not guilty by reason of insanity and Prosecutors had already decided not to ask for the death penalty in her case.

A Psychiatrist testified that Dena had watched a television show about a child who had been attacked by a lion and she took that as a sign of the Apocalypse:

"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"
David Self - Psychiatrist

Dena's Lawyers were trying to show that she had no idea that what she was doing was wrong, but Prosecutors say she was aware of what she was doing and said she should spent the rest of her life in prison if she was found guilty.

In April of 2006, Dena Schlosser, who was by then 38 years old, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to live in a Mental Hospital until she could be found to be of no danger to herself or others:

"My own expectation is that she will remain at the hospital for many years"
David Haynes - Defense Lawyer

Judge Chris Oldner said that Dena had met the legal standard for being considered insane and the week before it was revealed that Dena had a brain tumor which Defense Lawyers claim could have caused her to hallucinate:

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

Dena didn't say anything or show any emotion as she looked at her stepfather who was the only person to show up for her court appearance:

"This who case, this whole situation with Dena was a tragedy. 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"
Bob N.

John filed for divorce from Dena and was eventually given custody of their two remaining daughters.

In 2008, a Doctor recommended that Dena be let out of the hospital and be treated as an out patient, having to follow strict guidelines and when she did not follow them, she was readmitted in the year 2010. In June, she was once again released as an outpatient and she found work at a Walmart store after Psychiatrists decided she was no longer a risk. People were not happy to see her out so quickly after what she did:

"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"
Natalie E.

"I think they would have delved future into, or something wasn't disclosed maybe. Maybe
Walmart doesn't know"
Rebecca R.

Walmart said that Dena, who was going by the last name Laettner had been hired in June but was no longer working for them:

"Mrs. Laettner is no longer employed by the company. All associates must pass a criminal background
check as a condition of employment. If a charged does not result in a conviction, then we have no way
of knowing an applicants previous criminal charges"
Lorenzo L.

There were many questions as for why Dena was able to be out in public and the Department Of State Health Services said that patients are assessed thoroughly before they are cleared by a Judge to go on work release. A former Prosecutor, who did not work on the case, said that since Dena has no felony convictions she is basically entitled to the same rights as everyone else, though a Judge will always be able to make a new ruling about her case:

"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. 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.
You have a horrible, horrible crime that occurred, 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. They're not legally
responsible, but a Judge retains jurisdiction so that hopefully society can be protected from something
like this happening again"
Toby S.

In the state of Texas, the goal that is set is for mental hospital patients to get better and as they progress they are given every opportunity to re-enter and become a productive member of society.




Thank you goes out to Tia for bringing this Angel's story to my attention.

Death occurred in the state of Texas
This page was created on October 1, 2014

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