Edward D. Gingerich: The Only Amish Man Convicted of Murder
The morning of March 24, 1992, started out just as the day before. Ed was once again lying in bed, spitting at the ceiling, and mumbling to himself. Katie had had enough. They obviously could not help Ed on their own. Katie sent Eds brother over to an English neighbor to call 911.
Katie was outside on the steps as the Mill Village Volunteer Fire Departments ambulance pulled up in front of the house. Three volunteers approached Katie carrying a medical bag and ambulance cot. My husband has had a nervous breakdown. Hes in the house. Be careful; hes acting wild. Katie explained.
As the paramedics entered the home, Ed began screaming, Dont kill me! He stood up and ran for the door, however he was quickly tackled by his brothers and restrained. Ed finally stopped fighting and stood up. He looked over at Katie as he made his way to the door and smiled mockingly. Without warning, Katie shocked everyone present by punching Ed in the face so hard that he was knocked off his feet and onto his back. The paramedics stood by in disbelief. When Ed finally stood up, it took seven men to restrain him and strap him to the ambulance cot. Before leaving, the paramedics informed Katie that they were taking Ed to a hospital in Erie and that she should arrange transportation and meet them there. An English neighbor agreed to take Katie and Eds family and they were soon on their way.
The paramedics had radioed in the situation while in route and a doctor and two hospital security guards greeted them at the entrance to Hamot Medical Centers emergency room. Ed appeared to be calm and cooperative as he was brought out of the ambulance. The doctor was disturbed by the restraints holding him to the cot and told the paramedics to remove them and let the patient walk in on his own.
Ed was being led to an examination room as Katie and Eds family arrived. After a brief wait, a doctor led Katie into the examination room with Ed and inquired as to why her husband had been brought to the hospital. Katie explained Eds behavior and recent mental state. She felt that he was having some type of nervous breakdown. The doctor seemed confused by Katies explanation, the patient that sat before him appeared to be perfectly sane.
Could he have been jokingfooling around?
He was not joking, Katie replied.
Perhaps you people overreacted, the doctor said. Putting a man in a mental ward is a big decisionI have other patients, he said. Ill come back soon and give Ed a more thorough examination.
Katie was at a loss for words, Ed had turned on his charm for the doctor and now they probably thought that Katie was the one with problems.
As soon as the doctor left the room, Ed looked directly at Katie with stone cold eyes. What are you trying to do, kill me? Ed growled. You are trying to get rid of meI know whyyou and my brother are against me. I know about you and my brother. Ed said. Katie walked out of the room to get the doctor. She wanted him to see how Ed was acting. When Katie and the doctor returned, Ed was lying on his back spitting at the ceiling and talking to himself. He was no longer playing the innocent victim.
Ed was soon being led down the hall in a wheelchair to the hospitals mental ward. Once they reached Eds temporary home, a white, windowless room, with a plastic covered mattress, Ed began to fight. It took four men to hold him down so that the doctor could give him a tranquilizer shot. Within seconds Ed went limp and the door slammed shut behind him.
On March 25, 1992, Ed was moved to a private room. Drugged up on anti-psychotic and antidepressant medications, doctors considered him no longer violent. That afternoon Katie and Eds family visited with Ed. He appeared to be calm and polite. Katie was beginning to wonder if the English might have actually cured him. He was just like his old self, albeit a little drowsy.
News of Eds hospitalization did not take long to reach David Lindsey. He felt that the Gunk fumes had most likely affected Ed and that the Amish simply overreacted. On March 26, David drove to Erie and visited Ed in the hospital. Ed appeared fine and David felt that his initial Gunk theory was in fact correct after all. David Lindsey took the opportunity to once again fill Eds head with thoughts of religion and the evil bishop.
Less than two weeks after his admission, Ed was released from the hospital on April 3. The Amish do not believe in medical insurance1, hence Ed walked out $8,000 lighter, with prescriptions such as Pamelor and Navane filling his pockets. Outpatient sessions were scheduled with a local psychiatrist and to everyone except Ed, the future was beginning to look brighter.
For the first few weeks after his release from the mental ward, Ed followed up with his outpatient sessions and his doctors experimented with various combinations of medicines. Ed had complained the medicines were draining his energy and leaving him with mouth sores, so his new psychiatrist prescribed Symmetrel and Pestoril in place of them. The new drugs did not seem to change anything and Ed was growing tired of being an English guinea pig. Katie was beginning to have own reservations and was starting to wonder if maybe they should have stuck with Doc Terrell after all.
On April 28, Ed failed to show up at his fourth psychiatrist appointment and stopped taking his prescribed medicine. Despite warnings that he would most likely relapse without his medication, Katie supported her husbands decision. Within days, he slowly began to sink back into depression and psychosis. On numerous occasions, Katie would find him pulling out his hair, Its on fire! hed yell.
As the months wore on, Eds condition rapidly deteriorated. He would often times claim to hear Satans voice in his head. Kill her, Satan would tell him. Kill her to save yourself. Ed rarely slept and would scratch his dry skin until it bled.
In May, Ed told Katie that he had decided to end the torture by shooting himself. Katie had never considered the prospect that Ed might commit suicide, so she gathered up all of Eds hunting rifles and hid them in the buggy shed. Later that night, Ed went berserk; he smashed his fist through a window and climbed out onto the porch roof threatening to jump and kill himself. This, of course, would have been no easy task, considering he was only 10 feet off the ground. Katies parents were coming up the driveway and Ed was in no mood to talk, he jumped off the roof and hit the ground running. Eds father and brother had arrived at the scene and were soon in their buggy chasing Ed down the road. The chase did not last long and Ed passed out just a hundred yards down the road. His father and brother loaded his limp body into the buggy and took him home.
Following Eds latest escapades, he was taken to Doc Terrells for another joint manipulation and jar of blackstrap molasses.
1. Amish do not have hospitalization insurance, but they normally band together to help pay medical expenses for anyone of their group who needs financial aid. A designated leader in the Amish community is normally given responsibility for a mutual aid fund.