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Woman Who Killed Mother Goes AWOL : Mental Patient Leaves Halfway House for Bank, Fails to Return

Times Staff Writer

A woman declared insane after she killed her mother and slashed her daughter’s throat with a razor nine years ago has disappeared from the psychiatric halfway house where she has lived since her release from a state mental hospital.

Arlyne Louise Genger, 45, left Gateway Hospital in South-Central Los Angeles Tuesday morning after she received permission to go to the bank. She never returned, said Dr. Harry Goldberg, program director at the residential community mental health facility.

Genger has lived at Gateway since June, when she was released from Patton State Hospital. She was committed there in 1981 after admitting that on New Year’s Day, 1980, she stabbed her mother more than 20 times and cut her daughter’s throat and wrist with a razor. The attacks took place in the family’s North Hollywood apartment.

After a court battle in April, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge C. Bernard Kaufman ruled on the basis of psychiatric testimony that Genger no longer was a threat to the community and should take continued psychiatric treatment at a halfway house with no physical restraints to keep patients on the premises.

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During her first months at Gateway Hospital, Genger was not allowed to leave except on staff-supervised outings. In January, the court ruled she could leave the hospital on her own if hospital officials approved her itinerary.

Goldberg said Genger probably left the facility because she was frustrated by the rules governing her movement.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. John Spillane, who argued against Genger’s move to the halfway house, said the court made a mistake in allowing her so much freedom.

Four years ago, he said, Genger wrote a threatening letter to her daughter, blaming the girl--who was 13 at the time--for the attacks.

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“I wanted her at least to be in a secure facility where she couldn’t go anywhere without a chaperon,” he said.

Deputy Public Defender Dennis G. Cohen said Genger does have something to lose by not following the halfway house’s rules--the privilege of living there. If she is found, the court could decide to send her back to a locked hospital, he said.

Cohen said he was shocked that Genger left the facility without permission. “She was doing excellently,” he said. “We just had a progress report in court, and she was complying with all the regulations.”

Goldberg said Genger does not know the location of her daughter, who has been notified of the escape. Genger is not dangerous to the general public, he said.

“She has never threatened anybody while she was here and never showed any signs of violence,” Goldberg said. “She is not the type of person who is going to attack someone on the street.”

A warrant has been issued for Genger’s arrest.


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