Only hours before he killed his girlfriend and himself last week, a prison supervisor threatened to commit both of those acts and underwent a psychiatric evaluation at a Glen Burnie hospital.
Police took Eugene Kenneth Davis, 37, to North Arundel Hospital for an emergency psychiatric evaluation late Nov. 3 after he threatened to hang himself at his girlfriend's house, said Officer V. Richard Molloy, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman.
Davis, who was drunk, told authorities he wanted to kill himself and Vivian Zina Anderson, 38, whom police identified as his girlfriend, Molloy said.
Both Anderson and Davis, who lived separately in Severn, served as correctional lieutenants at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, the scene of the murder-suicide on Nov. 4.
Hospital staff determined that alcohol, not a dangerous psychiatric disorder, caused Davis' problems the previous night, hospital spokesman Kevin Murnane said. When officers brought him to the emergency room, Davis' blood alcohol level was twice the legal level of .10 at which someone is considered to be intoxicated, Murnane said.
The hospital released him the next morning after his blood alcohol reading dropped below the intoxicated level, Murnane said.
Soon afterward, Davis shot and killed Anderson and then himself during a change of shifts at the prison, which specializes in the psychological treatment of criminals. Davis took the .38-caliber murder weapon from an emergency prison arsenal.
Murnane said hospital staffers involved in Davis' care believe they diagnosed him correctly. A doctor and mental health clinician examined Davis, who did not have a history of psychiatric problems, Murnane said.
"They feel very strongly that we provided all the proper care and that alcohol was the major factor," Murnane said.
They urged Davis to enter the hospital's chemical dependency unit, Murnane said. Davis first agreed but later refused. Patients cannot be admitted to the drug treatment ward against their will, he said.
If the hospital had determined that Davis posed a danger, however, he could have been sent to a psychiatric unit.
The incident began the night before, when police answered a call about a possible break-in and suicidal person at Anderson's house, Molloy said. Police found Davis standing on a sofa holding one end of a jump rope to his neck while the other end was tied to a banister rail.
Police ordered Davis to get down from the sofa, Molloy said. Davis also had threatened to kill Anderson, he said.
Anderson refused to press charges against Davis but expressed concern about him. Fearing the drunken man posed a danger, officers took him to the hospital.
"That's all we can do is take someone to a hospital for an evaluation. After that, it's up to the doctors," Molloy said.