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Authors: Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

My Lost Daughter (60 page)

BOOK: My Lost Daughter
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They stood outside, Lily taking a deep breath of fresh air. Chris kissed the top of her head. They stood there for a few moments longer, letting the warm sun wash over them before they headed to the car.


Subsequent to Alex Purcell's death, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies across the nation credited him with more than twelve separate unsolved homicides. The police determined that the crusty substance Shana had seen on the window in Alex's room at Whitehall was human blood, human blood with the same DNA as Norman Richardson.

Lily remained skeptical about the other crimes. When a law enforcement agency learned that a killer like Alex had been apprehended, they had a tendency to dig out all their cold cases in an attempt to clear them. They were convinced Alex had killed a woman as far away as Alaska. Most of the evidence was circumstantial and could never be proven in a court of law. Even if Alex didn't actually perpetrate all the crimes attributed to him, Lily knew it provided solace to grieving relatives who wanted to believe their loved ones' deaths had been avenged.

The FBI tracked down Alex's family in Arizona, where they were living under another assumed name. They were prosecuted for tax evasion, harboring a fugitive, perpetrating a fraud, and numerous other violations.

Alex's estate was valued at six million dollars and the jewelry he had placed on Lily was genuine and worth over two hundred thousand dollars. The majority of his wealth came from the three hundred patents he held on his various inventions, which ranged from computer components to lasers and robots now used in a wide range of surgical procedures.

While watching the news one day, Shana clapped when she saw Nadine being handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car. After piecing together the tragic events of Alex's life, Shana felt Alex's mother had heavily contributed to his mental illness.

Due to her mother's relationship with Special Agent Mary Stevens, Shana had been allowed access to Alex's school records, court records, and other documents and files from the various institutions he'd been housed in throughout the years. During his hospitalizations, he was brutally sodomized by another patient, stabbed, and subjected to dangerous mind-altering chemicals, some with long-range permanent side effects. She also discovered that Alex had been administered electric shock treatments on ninety-three separate occasions.

It was inside the state facility, the place designed to care for and treat the mentally ill, that Alex became acquainted with genuine madness.

His grave was exhumed and the coffin found to be empty. Dr. Charles Morrow had signed the death certificate for a fee of twenty thousand dollars. Morrow had been supplying Alex with narcotics for as long as four years. His license to practice psychiatry was revoked and he was sentenced to five years in prison for falsifying a death certificate for profit, two counts of kidnapping, one which involved Ruth Hopkins, the woman who had been singing “Amazing Grace” in the emergency room. Ms. Hopkins, as it turned out, was a well-known gospel singer who had recorded more than six albums.

Morrow was also charged with altering patients' files, illegally dispensing narcotics, and administering psychotropic medications such as Thorazine without written consent from the patient or their court-appointed guardian. He was found innocent of harboring a fugitive.

Peggy Campbell was found guilty of striking a patient, exposing
a female patient in front of a male attendant, and other misdemeanor violations. In addition, it was discovered that Peggy, as well as Betsy, had no nursing or medical credentials whatsoever. Peggy served five days in jail and was placed on thirty-six months probation, with the specific stipulation that she was restricted from seeking employment in a psychiatric or medical facility.

Lee had resigned by the time the California Attorney General began his investigation and was questioned and released. She became a witness for the State and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The following year, Shana graduated from Stanford with honors. Six months later, she passed the bar on the first try.

Sixty days after Alex's death, Whitehall psychiatric hospital was closed by the California Attorney General. This sparked a major investigation of institutions throughout the country that were found to have committed similar unscrupulous practices.

One particular chain of hospitals, a multibillion-dollar publicly owned corporation, even had what they referred to as a PET team, a psychiatric emergency team. This so-called team loitered in emergency rooms attempting to snag insured clients, and another went so far as to visit city shelters in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington during the winter months, showing the occupants pictures of sunny beaches and plush landscaping as a tool to entice them into signing themselves in to their institution, which they falsely claimed was a state-run retirement community. Their hospital fees were paid for by Medicare as the majority of these individuals were indigent. Instead of referring to these practices as
patient snatching,
as Shana had, the media labeled it
bounty hunting

In one appalling scenario uncovered during the investigation, hospital representatives went so far as to frequent AA meetings, afterward taking some of the participants to a bar and plying them with alcohol until they convinced them to sign voluntary commitment forms.

Lily and Shana formed a foundation to lobby in the state capital in Sacramento for reform of existing laws involving the troubled psychiatric industry.

BOOK: My Lost Daughter
11.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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