McKINNEY, Texas -- A mother who admitted killing her baby daughter by severing the girl’s arms was guided by a Bible passage in which Jesus referred to cutting off body parts to cast away sin, the woman’s lawyer said Tuesday.
Dena Schlosser, a 35-year-old housewife with a history of mental illness, has referred to the New Testament passage since the killing of 10-month-old Margaret, lawyer David Haynes told Associated Press.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says: “If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
Schlosser was charged with capital murder Nov. 22, after she told a 911 operator she had cut off her baby’s arms. Police found her in the living room, covered in blood, still holding a knife and listening to a hymn.
Haynes said Schlosser was mentally ill at the time.
He said Schlosser was still disoriented but improving under medication she was receiving.
“She knows the baby is dead,” Haynes said. “I think she understands generally the physical facts of how that came to be, but she is now conscious that her mind has not been clear for years and she’s still coming to grips with that.”
Schlosser had been hospitalized for postpartum depression in January as part of an investigation by the state’s child-protection agency. Social workers said she exhibited symptoms of psychosis but improved with medication and psychiatric help, and the agency closed the investigation in August.
A Bible scholar said that in the passage cited by Schlosser, Jesus was speaking figuratively and using a common expression of his time.
Virgil Howard, who teaches at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, added that even if the passage were interpreted literally, it still wouldn’t suggest that one person harm another.