Family’s ‘Perfect Life’ Shattered
Father With Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder Murders Children
By ALISON LYNN
June 4, 2008—
Every Saturday morning, Kim Crespi gets in her car for the 90-mile trip from her home outside
sentence for murdering their twin daughters. Kim Crespi reminisced about happier times, telling ABC News Senior Law and Justice correspondent Jim Avila that, “It was a house of love, peace and fun.We had a perfect life.”
Married for 12 years, the Crespis had five children. The youngest were identical twin girls, 5-year-old Tessara and Samantha. “Tess and Sam were precious to us,” David said. “They were incredible. They were a gift. I mean, we were just so thrilled to have them.” The Crespis lived in a large home in a fast-growing suburb outside
But he also harbored a dark secret that destroyed it all. Severe Depression.
In his late 20s, David suffered his first episode of severe depression. During the course of more than 10 years, he says he sought help from psychiatrists who treated him with therapy and antidepressants. His depression sometimes became so acute that despite being a devout Catholic, David attempted
suicide. “I did certain things where I attempted to take my own life — running a car in the garage. I hung off a bridge in
Terrified by dark thoughts that he believed were not real, David did not share them with his wife or doctors. That turned out to be a tragic mistake. “He never told them what he wanted to do to his family,” says
Dark Thoughts, Dark Actions
On Jan. 20, 2006, Kim and David were home with Tessara and Samantha. The girls weren’t feeling well and had stayed home from kindergarten that day. David was depressed and unable to go to work. He agreed to watch the girls while his wife went out to get her hair done. According to David, it all seemed like a sign. “And it just came to me. There is no future. There is nothing. And that’s the way it’s all aligned for them to die.” The twins asked their father to play hide and seek. By the time Kim arrived home, her husband had stabbed her daughters to death, and he was in police custody. In his confession later that day, David admitted to the crimes and told police that the sprinklers had instructed him to dial 911. He was placed on suicide watch and prison psychologists later diagnosed him as having bipolar disorder.
Despite the fact that he was being treated by mental health professionals, had mental health insurance to pay for the treatment and had a supportive family and employer, David’s bipolar disorder went undiagnosed for years. He was improperly diagnosed and improperly medicated with an anti-depressant, which Kim says led to the murders. Ironically, it wasn’t until he was incarcerated that his illness was finally diagnosed. “The best psychiatric care I have got in my life has been in this prison,” David said.
His experience is not unusual. According to a study conducted in 2001 by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, a mental health advocacy group, it takes an average of 10 years and four different doctors for a patient to be correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. What is atypical is how David’s illness manifested itself in violent deaths. “The occurrence of aggression and violence is not as common as one might fear. And, in fact, homicide is relatively unusual in bipolar disorder,” said Dr. Maria Oquendo, a psychiatrist at
Oquendo cautions that there are times when a parent suffering from bipolar disorder, feels hopeless and suicidal, and their children could be at risk. “They feel that they don’t want to abandon their children, so they will, quote, ‘Take their children with them.'”
Today the Crespi family still lives in the house where the twins died. Their mother Kim finds comfort in the rooms where they lived and played. “We get to live with the angels,” said Kim tearfully. “Sam and Tess, our saints, the angels are always there. I feel nothing but love here.” Kim perseveres through her faith and her undying love for her husband and still feels that she “married my soul mate. And Dave needs me so there’s lots of reasons to get up in the morning and see what God has for us, you know?”
But for Kim’s weekly visits David Crespi is virtually alone with the pictures of his slain twin daughters lining the walls of his 8-by-12 cell. “I loved them dearly. And I miss them. And my life and the lives of other people I love will never be the same.”
from ABC News Internet Ventures sent by Ann Blake tracy www.drugawareness.org and www.ssristories.com – see Kim and David on 20/20 Friday night June 6th ABC
DR. WEEKS’ COMMENT:
Many patients come to me to “get off” their medications. While I rarely prescribe SSRI anti-depressants becuase of the risks of suicide and homocide (to say nothing about their “no better than placebo, and maybe a little worse” effectiveness) i never recommend that patietns stop medications “cold turkey”. That is too dangerous. So if you are on medications, despite your concern with their safety, I always recommend working carefully with a knowledgable doctor to taper off the medications in a safe manner: correct the imbalances of naturally occuring substanes before starting to taper off the synthetic substances. Llt me offer two simple thoughts which my years in clinical practice taught me are valid:
2) Corrective Medicine and Psychiatry (see www.weeksmd.com and search “ssri”) is the optimal way of making prescription medications redundant and obsolete since, once the underlying biochemical imbalances are identified and corrected (as well as lifestyle stressors) then one typically needs less medications and in many cases, none at all. Remember, even though medications “help”, a depressed person isn’t suffering from a “Prozac deficiency” any more than one would consider cancer patient’s problem to be that she is suffering from a deficiency of chemotherapy drugs.