Why? `He said I was special'

Doctor exchanged explicit letters with prisoner

May 22, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,Sun Staff

Psychologist Elizabeth Feil grew up in a big brick house -- with an elevator and pool -- on the Main Line in Philadelphia. On Tuesday night, state police say, she wound up in a Pulaski Highway motel with a tattooed former patient who had just escaped from prison.

Police, with help from her angry husband, Glenn Bosshard, who has been courting the media this week, have made the 43-year-old Feil -- a child of privilege with an Ivy League education -- the unlikely star of a tawdry prison escape drama.

"I feel like I am in the midst of a poorly written crime novel," Bosshard said.

In a two-hour interview yesterday, he spoke of his marriage, his dealings with state police and his wife's relationship with Byron Lester Smoot.

On Tuesday, Smoot and his dorm-mate, Gregory Lee Lawrence, scaled the razor wire fence around the Maryland Correctional Institution and made it to a phone booth in Jessup. State police said they called Feil, who met them in her Subaru.

They suspect Feil dropped Lawrence at his girlfriend's home in Baltimore, then checked into a $37-a-day motel on Pulaski Highway with Smoot.

The escape was the culmination of a two-year relationship between Feil and Smoot that included an exchange of sexuallyexplicit letters and pictures that her husband is now sharing and a promise of a hidden treasure -- $200,000 in cash.

Police and prison officials said Feil met Smoot when he was incarcerated at the Patuxent Institution -- a maximum-security prison meant to rehabilitate inmates.

She was supposed to help him deal with a crack addiction he admitted to in court records.

In the course of therapy, Bosshard said, Smoot told Feil how he had stashed away $200,000 that police had failed to recover.

History of crimes

The 38-year-old inmate had some interesting tales to tell his psychologist, records in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court show.

He has been arrested for 11 armed robberies, auto theft and attempted carjacking.

During a 1995 robbery of the Atlantic Federal Savings Bank in Pasadena, court records show, Smoot worked with two companions but he was the one who vaulted the counter and grabbed cash from three tellers.

In a Glen Burnie crime spree in 1995, the records show, Smoot with accomplices robbed cashiers at the Loew's Sony Theater, a saleswoman at Sizes Unlimited, the Dollar Bills store, a Food Max cashier, a Paceway convenience store, a Dunkin Donuts and a Payless Shoes store.

The thief and the therapist grew closer, their letters indicate. Smoot would mail them to her sister's house in Western Maryland. The sister would forward them to the Feil home in Annapolis, the husband said.

Psychologist fired

This type of "inappropriate contact with inmates" led to Feil's firing in June 1998.

Her husband said she told him that she was dismissed for trying to revamp therapeutic curriculum at the prison and that a nurse had it in for her.

"I had no reason to doubt her," said Bosshard, 44.

Feil then went into private practice in Towson. She also conducted psychological testing on 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents were trying to get them into kindergarten at expensive private schools near Washington, her husband said.

Feil continued to write Smoot, and she visited him 58 times after he was transferred from Patuxent to Maryland Correctional, prison records show.

Their letters were sexually explicit. Smoot typed out his fantasies on white paper and signed them "love, Byron."

She sent him photographs of herself scantily clad in black lingerie, said Bosshard, who added that he took the photos 11 years ago while they were an an Easter vacation in Cape May, N.J.

The husband said Smoot also began calling their home collect, though he didn't know it at the time.

Bosshard's 15-year-old daughter complained to her stepmother about the frequency of the calls from the inmate, and Feil said she would "take care of it."

Bosshard said he didn't learn the nature of his wife's relationship with Smoot until 3 a.m. Wednesday, when state police knocked on his door asking for her.

Feil had told her husband she had car trouble and was staying with her bosses in Towson. Then the police asked him about Smoot -- they had found a postcard in his cell addressed to Feil that said "see you in three days."

Bosshard said he had heard his wife talk about Smoot and fantasize about finding his money.

But, after Feil brought home another former patient -- who had just been released last summer -- she swore she would never befriend a convict again.

Feil and Bosshard were having severe financial problems and had filed for bankruptcy in April 1998. They listed liabilities of $151,278 against assets of $10,960.

Inheritance fell short

Her husband said it hadn't helped that Feil had received much less from her father's estate than she had anticipated.

"She grew up well-off and never had to do without," said Bosshard, who has not worked for three years because of medical problems.

He is a leather craftsman who makes handbags and other items.

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