Lt Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter featured another case where he was tasked with investigating what hospital officials suspected was an attempted murder. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was bombarded by the press because they heard the call for service over the scanner. The hospital was secure and police officers were on the scene. Upon an initial briefing, Lt Kenda discovered that a nurse suspected that someone had tampered with one of their patient’s IVs. Lt Kenda then interviewed Carol Taylor, the wife of an Army officer also present at the hospital with their two children.
Lt Kenda learned that Carol had broken her leg and had developed some blood clots. She was simply visiting with her husband and children when all of a sudden the alarm on the IV infusion machine went off. And somehow the IV had been pulled from her arm. Lt Kenda immediately began to suspect that someone was trying to kill her because it looked like someone had either tampered with or inserted something into the IV line. Because the crime lab was not proficient in the hospital’s medical equipment, they called in a hospital employee who was considered an expert. This person determined that someone had injected something into the line. The only other people in the room were her husband and children.
Lt Kenda started his next line of questioning with the husband. He learned that Lt Col Dennis Taylor served in the US Army for 27 years and was currently working as the Chief of Oral Surgery at the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Lt Kenda observed that the doctor was unusually calm and appeared to be minimizing the event and brushing it off as a mistake. So then Lt Kenda went back to the wife and asked her if she thought that maybe her husband did this. The wife claimed she was fine and that everyone was making a big deal out of it and she just wanted it to go away. She claimed that they had a great marriage and life. Lt Joe Kenda had a hard time believing that her marriage was as perfect as she made it out to be and moved forward with the investigation because there was in fact liquid in the IV pump that was not supposed to be there.
Kenda reached out to a family friend who worked alongside the doctor over the years. He learned from Stan that the doctor had confided in him that Carol was verbally abusive, demeaning him, telling him he is pathetic, and even punched him. She also was upset about his drinking and knew that he had been having extra-marital affairs. Stan told Kenda that the doctor wanted to leave Carol but she had threatened to go to his commander and report him for the drinking and adultery (both considered UCMJ infractions and punishable under military law) if he left her. Carol enjoyed the privileges of being a military wife too much to lose them to divorce. He felt trapped in his current abusive marriage and was drinking more and having affairs as a way to cope with his current situation. In the civilian world, Carol would not be able to get away with threatening her husband because it is not illegal to drink and have affairs.
As it turns out, the results of the pump came back and they found Diazinon, which is a poison used to kill ants, spiders, cockroaches, etc. She would have been dead in a matter of minutes and would have been in excruciating pain, as the poison would have burned her from the inside out. As a result, Kenda arrested the doctor for attempted murder. During the arrest he found a plunged hypodermic in his pocket. The doctor told him he didn’t need an attorney and admitted his guilt. He told Kenda that earlier that morning while he was out shopping, the idea came to him that this was the only way out. Because he is a doctor, he knew how to do it. He inserted the poison and the alarm went off so he pulled the IV out of her arm for fear of arrest.
Instead of the civilians pressing forward with a case, the Army decided that they were going to court martial the doctor. They claimed they wanted to make an example of the disgraced colonel in front of a jury of his peers. He was sentenced to 18 months hard labor and he and his family were stripped of all Army privileges. And this may be why Carol Taylor protected her husband despite the fact that he just tried to kill her. Why would the Army doctor rather kill his wife then report the domestic violence to the commander? Why would the doctor feel that going to the commander was not an option and his only way out of this abusive situation was to murder his wife? Why was the doctor so intimidated by the threat of his wife reporting what would be considered minor infractions, even under UCMJ standards?
We need to evaluate why the doctor felt that he was not able to report the abuse and threatening to the Commander. Would he automatically be in trouble with military leadership if he admitted that he had been drinking and having affairs? Was he concerned about losing his career, his retirement, or facing disciplinary action? Why did he feel that he had to choose murder over reporting the threats and abuse to his commander? These are all things that we must ponder. We are seeing a pattern over and over. Our military men do not feel that reporting to the commander is an option when they are the victim of a crime. If that is the case, how can we help our military men, who find themselves the victim of threats, domestic violence, or sexual assault, report to a safe place? Right now, some would rather resort to murder then report the crimes to their commander. There must be a better way.