Hospital treated Patuxent guard before slaying

November 14, 1990|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Anne Arundel Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- A 37-year-old Jessup man who 10 days ago shot and killed his former girlfriend, a fellow corrections officer, and then took his own life at Patuxent Institution had undergone a psychiatric evaluation hours earlier at North Arundel Hospital and was found not to be a threat to himself or others.

Eugene Kenneth Davis of the 8100 block of Hicks Road shot Vivian Zina Anderson with a .38-caliber handgun from the prison arsenal as she arrived for an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. work shift at the maximum-security state corrections facility in Jessup on Nov. 4.

About an hour earlier, Mr. Davis was allowed to leave North Arundel Hospital, a 329-bed private, non-profit facility in Glen Burnie, after an emergency room physician and a social worker decided that he was not suffering from any mental health disorder that would cause him to be dangerous.

Anne Arundel police had taken him to the hospital after finding the 5-foot-4, 190-pound man drunk andsuicidal in Ms. Anderson's town house. He was standing on a living room sofa with one end of a jump rope tied to the stair railing and the other end "in his hands by his neck," according to a police report.

Kevin W. Murnane, a spokesman for the hospital, said Mr. Davis' blood-alcohol level was tested at greater than .20 when he arrived in the emergency room Saturday evening. Under Maryland's drunken-driving statute, a person with a blood-alcohol level of .10 or greater is legally intoxicated.

"Everyone in our emergency room staff and the social work department feels we gave him the proper care," Mr. Murnane said. "The determination was made that alcohol was his main problem. He came in with a very high amount of alcohol in his bloodstream."

Mr. Murnane declined to identify the doctor and social worker who treated Mr. Davis. The patient, who had no history of mental health disorders, volunteered to enter the hospital's chemical dependency unit but later changed his mind.

"It's a voluntary unit and we couldn't force him," Mr. Murnane said. Mr. Davis' blood-alcohol level was retested at below the legal limit for intoxication before he was allowed to leave with a friend at approximately 7 a.m., he said.

However, according to the police report written and signed by Anne Arundel County Patrolman Richard R. Alban Jr. before the shooting incident took place, Mr. Davis had "stated he was going to kill his girlfriend" as he waited in the hospital's emergency room.

Officer Alban and his partner, Patrolman David L. Smith Jr., had been alerted to a report of a breaking and entering and a suicide attempt at Ms. Anderson's town house shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found Mr. Davis had broken in a front window and "torn apart" an upstairs bedroom, according to their two-page report.

Ms. Anderson, a 10-year veteran of the state corrections system, told police that Mr. Davis had ransacked her bedroom in order to find her gun "so that he could kill himself," the report stated. She declined to press charges but "did want Mr. Davis to get some help," the report said.

The 37-year-old Ms. Anderson had been romantically involved with Mr. Davis, a nine-year corrections veteran, according to police. Like Ms. Anderson, he was a lieutenant and held a supervisory position at Patuxent Institution.

Mr. Murnane said police informed the hospital staff of the death threats Mr. Davis had made against himself and Ms. Anderson. However, Mr. Davis later denied "making any of those statements" to the emergency room personnel, Mr. Murnane said.

Investigators said yesterday they are still not sure what may have motivated Mr. Davis to commit the murder-suicide, and have described it only as the result of a domestic dispute.

Mr. Davis had taken the gun from the prison's arsenal and shot Ms. Anderson at least once and possibly twice in the face as she stood in a hallway outside the roll-call room. Corrections officers are normally not equipped with firearms.

Sgt. Roger D. Cassell, a state police investigator assigned to the Waterloo barracks, said county police "did everything right" in their handling of the case. He said state police are still investigating the incident.

Dr. Harvey B. Kalin, clinical director for the state Mental Hygiene Administration, said yesterday that making determinations about whether a patient represents a danger to himself or others "can be a very difficult thing to do."

If the hospital staff had determined that Mr. Davis posed a threat they had the authority to involuntarily commit him to a psychiatric facility, Dr. Kalin said.

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