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Custody Fight, PTSD and Depression Lead to Tragedy

A tragedy unfolded in the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale last week. A 43-year-old woman, said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, killed her 4-year-old daughter and tried to take her own life. Reports are sketchy, but it seems the girl was the youngest of the woman's three children. The older two had been the subjects of protracted custody battles that authorities believe contributed to their mother's mental state.

The oldest child was the subject of an Illinois custody fight from 1993 to 1998. Although the court granted her custody in the end, the mother was emotionally scarred by the experience. It was during this dispute that she first received the PTSD diagnosis. In a statement to the court, her psychologist said she had been prone to periods of uncontrollable crying as well as bouts of "stress-related alcohol-dependency." A different psychologist noted similar symptoms 10 years later.

In New York, between 2005 and 2008, the woman and her ex-husband argued over custody of the middle child (now 10). Her ex-husband was granted custody, following revelations of the mother's suicide attempt, stays in mental health units of local hospitals and DWI charges. Her psychologist there had discussed her mental health history with the lawyer in the case and said she had phone the child abuse hotline when she became concerned that the mother was drinking and driving with the child in the car.

When the woman discovered what her psychologist had done, she filed suit. That case was dismissed last month, but the situation had exacerbated her PTSD.

She is now in jail, charged with the first-degree murder of her daughter. The court set her bail at $5 million. She told police she had killed the 4-year-old to keep her from becoming an "internet sex slave." Prosecutors expect the woman to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Custody of the children is no longer an issue.

Resource: The Post Star (Glens Falls, NY) "Local Custody Fight Tied to Murder" 11/10/10

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