Plano mom’s links to church explored

Relatives, pastor differ on what drove woman before her child died

Church leader Doyle Davidson says he barely knew Dena Schlosser. But family members say the Plano woman was a fanatic, speaking about him like a star-struck admirer.

“All she did was talk about him. ‘Aunt Judy, you got to get on the Internet and see him, listen to him,’ ” Judy Buczyna said. “And he said he didn’t know her. Every word she spoke was about him.”

It was that obsession, her faith and postpartum psychosis, family members say, that drove Mrs. Schlosser on Nov. 22, the day her 10-month-old daughter’s arms were cut off. Mrs. Schlosser is charged with the child’s death.

Mr. Davidson said he doesn’t manipulate or persuade people in his position as pastor of Water of Life Church in Plano.

“It’s ridiculous. I have no power over people,” Mr. Davidson said.

He said he is being blamed unfairly.

“This is a spiritual attack. And I know that. So these people don’t bother me,” Mr. Davidson said. “I do not affect people’s lives. It’s the Gospel that … affects them.”

Leslie Hunt, executive director of the Postpartum Resource Center of Texas, said it is possible that Mr. Davidson did not realize that he captivated Mrs. Schlosser.

“People develop obsessions with other people all the time that they didn’t know about. He’s up on a stage and a self-proclaimed prophet. He was filling a psychological void for her that needed to be filled and became larger than life,” Ms. Hunt said.

Dr. Philip Korenman, who has a private psychiatry practice in Plano, said preachers have a responsibility to recognize when medical professionals are necessary and “when it’s beyond the bounds of increased spirituality.”

Mrs. Schlosser’s mother and stepfather, Connie and Mick Macaulay, have described phone conversations with Mrs. Schlosser dominated by Mr. Davidson.

Mrs. Schlosser spoke to her parents the day before she admitted to a 911 operator that she had cut her daughter Margaret’s arms off as hymns played in the background. They said she said that she could no longer be close to her family if they did not believe in Mr. Davidson.

Church leaders say Ms. Schlosser and her husband, John, sporadically attended Water of Life. Mr. Schlosser has a link to Mr. Davidson’s site on his personal Web site. Mr. Schlosser has declined to comment.

The Schlossers’ daughters, ages 6 and 9, are in temporary custody of Child Protective Services, while officials evaluate where they should live. Authorities have said Mr. Schlosser did not protect Margaret from his wife when she told him the evening before the child’s death that she wanted to “give her child to God.”

Like Mrs. Schlosser’s parents, Ms. Buczyna said the church drew her niece away from her family.

“I feel like the whole thing has alienated Dena from her support,” she said.

Ms. Buczyna, 51, said the church should be investigated.

“If they come up clean, if they’re going to pray, then they need to pray about how they had someone in their church who they weren’t there to help,” she said.

Mrs. Schlosser’s attorney, David Haynes, said he is looking at the church’s role in his client’s life.

Mr. Davidson is known to “lay hands” on people to heal them and says he can draw the devil out of them.

He said he was doing just that at Lisa and Harold Staton’s Plano home in September when he was arrested for public intoxication.

In a Plano arrest report, Ms. Staton said Mr. Davidson threw her on the couch, sat on top of her and started smothering and choking her. Her husband, Harold, saw Mr. Davidson sitting on his wife and pulled him off.

Mr. Davidson told police that Mrs. Staton was upset with him and scratched him. He said she told him he “was possessed by Satan,” the report said.

“Davidson was raising his voice stating that Lisa and Harold Staton were both fired from their church for calling the police,” the report states.

Police noted that Mrs. Staton had redness around her chest and throat; and Mr. Davidson had scratches on his arms and neck.

Police officers called to the scene noticed “a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” on Mr. Davidson’s breath. He paid a $352 fine.

The Statons could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Davidson told his congregation Sunday that he was not intoxicated and he will be found not guilty.

He said the woman was rebellious and he was trying to draw the devil out of her.

Some in the congregation said Mr. Davidson has saved marriages and helped put their lives back on track with the practice.

Ms. Buczyna, who is Mrs. Macaulay’s younger sister, spent time with Mrs. Schlosser when she was growing up. She baby-sat her, and later Mrs. Schlosser watched her aunt’s children. She said Mrs. Schlosser was a “good role model” to her younger cousins because she was studious and generous.

She said there is no way Mrs. Schlosser would hurt her own baby out of anger.

“She’s not a monster mom. There has not been one moment in her life that I can remember where she lost her temper and had gotten upset,” Ms. Buczyna said. “We love her. I wish we could turn back the clock.”

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The Dallas Morning News, KVUE, USA
Dec. 10, 2004
Tiara M. Ellis and Jennifer Emily, The Dallas Morning News

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday December 11, 2004.
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