Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Intensive Care Unit

Defending the Bronx

Bronx District Attorney, Mario Merola
Bronx District Attorney, Mario Merola

Well-regarded or not, DA Mario Merola had his hands full upholding the law in the Bronx. In the fall 1977 there already had been another embarrassing episode involving Bronx health care. Ms. Blanche Sanchez, the Acting President of the Board of Visitors of the Bronx Psychiatric Center (BPC) called for an investigation of six separate incidents occurring at the institution between July 1975 and July 1976. Five of the six incidents resulted in the death of patients and the sixth led to a patient's prolonged hospitalization after a severe beating. The New York state government formed a commission and came to some astounding conclusions finding the BPC culpable

Dr. Hugh Butts, Director of the BPC, under oath admitted that, "The majority of patients are not receiving what I would regard as appropriate psychiatric treatment...We can barely administer appropriate milieu therapy to those that require it."

The state commission found the BPC was "unresponsive to the needs of its patients." It recommended that an immediate investigation be commenced by an oversight body other than the Department of Health.

Mario Merola certainly wanted to prevent the Bronx from any additional bad press, helping to explain why he took a personal interest in the unexplained deaths at the Einstein Medical Center.

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