by Tolu Orekoya
The current media blitz of bizarre human beings eating each other might be front page news now, but a case from three years ago, revived by the Nigerian blogosphere during what many now call ‘the zombie apocalypse’, may have been the starting point.
In San Antonio, Texas, the police were called to a horrific scene featuring cannibalism on July 26, 2009: Otty Sanchez, 33, a new mother with a long history of schizophrenia and hospitalisations, had severed the head of her 3 1/2-week-old baby, Scott Wesley Bucholtz-Sanchez, eating part of his brain matter and biting his toes off. It was a scene that shook even the police officers; San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told reporters at the time that Sanchez’s attack on her son, was “too heinous” to be discussed at length.
Officers called to Sanchez’s house at about 5 a.m. local time that Sunday found her sitting on the couch screaming “I killed my baby! I killed my baby!” McManus said. Later on it was discovered that police had been called to the house when her baby’s father reported her for driving off with the child before properly securing him. Could something like this have been prevented? “Maybe we missed,” warning signs, McManus said , according to MSNBC. “I don’t know.” She confessed to the police that the devil told her to kill her baby.
Sanchez was accused of decapitating her son with two samurai swords, while her sister and her two nieces (ages 5 and 7), slept in the another room in the house. She then tried to kill herself . She then tried to kill herself with self-inflicted wounds on her throat and torso. In the video below, she is heard shouting for her baby, wrapped in a yellow tarp, strapped down and loaded into an ambulance.
The child’s father, Scotty Buchholz, also 33, was distraught telling the Associated Press at the time, “She killed my son. She should burn in hell.”
Schizophrenic women are prone to post partum depression, or the “baby blues” where women have a hard time adjusting to having a new born baby for a variety of reasons. More serious cases have women not eating or sleeping and may self harm. Most times it can be treated with a mix of psychiatric drugs and therapy.
Her history suggests that she may have been suffering from the more serious post partum psychosis, a rare disorder and much more deadly.
According to MSNBC:
On July 20, Sanchez was taken to the hospital for depression and released less than a day later, Buchholz said. Sanchez told him that she was schizophrenic and was going to live with her parents and sister. Sanchez was arrested at her mother’s house, where police found her and the dead infant.Five days later, on Saturday, Sanchez brought “Baby Scotty” for a visit but left in a rage after he asked for a copy of the birth certificate and other documents, Buchholz said. Buchholz called 911 to report that Sanchez stormed out and drove away with the infant without properly restraining him in the car, and deputies investigated it as a disturbance.
The deputy took a report but could do little else, said Bexar County Sheriff Chief Deputy Dale Bennett.
“If this guy had given us an indication that she had postpartum depression, or mental defects she was suffering from, we may have addressed it differently,” he said.
Buchholz said he may have told the deputy Sanchez was depressed, but that he wasn’t sure.
While schizophrenia generally develops in men in their late teens and early 20s, women tend to develop the illness, marked by abnormal impressions of reality, later in life.
Most new mothers suffer from postpartum blues as hormones shift after a pregnancy and they’re fatigued handling a new baby. But as many as one-fifth suffer from the more serious postpartum depression, which includes symptoms like despair and failing to eat or sleep.
Postpartum psychosis is far rarer, affecting only about one woman in 1,000. Women with postpartum psychosis have delusions, frequently involving religious symbols and a desire to harm their newborn, said Richard Pesikoff, a psychiatry professor at the Baylor College of Medicine.
He testified in the second trial of Andrea Yates, the high-profile case of a Houston-area mother found not guilty by reason of insanity after drowning her five children. Similar to Sanchez’s claim that the devil told her to kill her son, Yates told authorities Satan was inside of her and she was trying to save her children.
“The most common part of postpartum psychosis is the delusional thinking,” said Pesikoff. “Often but not always, it encompasses some type of religious thought. God is telling you to do something. The devil is telling you to do something.”
She was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity on July 1, 2010, and was remanded to a government sanitarium, to be checked on every year. She got her ruling a day after what would have been her son’s first birthday.
The video of the sentencing below: