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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Devil, Doyle Davidson, and Dena Schlosser

A horrific crime spurred by mental illness and religious fervor.
Dena Schlosser (right) was a devoted follower of Doyle Davidson.
Dena Schlosser (right) was a devoted follower of Doyle Davidson.

It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to reading about what Dena Schlosser did to her own child one morning in 2004. While the sound of hymns filled her Plano apartment, she went to the kitchen, got out a 9-inch knife, walked to baby Maggie’s crib, and cut off her daughter’s arms.

She believed that God wanted her and Maggie to go to heaven.

In his June 2006 article, one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine, Paul Kix wrote about the church at which Schlosser worshipped — Water of Life in Plano — and of the domineering pastor whose influence, particularly in pushing for prayer rather than medication and blaming mental illness on demonic possession, may have contributed to a worsening of the postpartum psychosis Schlosser was suffering at the time of her crime.

Ultimately, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Her husband divorced her and took their other daughters away. She was placed in the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, where she was roommate and friend to Andrea Yates, the Houston woman who’d drowned her children to keep them from Satan.

After years of treatment, Schlosser was released to outpatient care. She was most recently in the news in August 2012, when she was working at a Walmart in Terrell but was fired after WFAA called the store asking about her.

Meanwhile her pastor, Doyle Davidson, continues in his ministry, preaching against the “Jezebel spirit” that he believes has infected the world and posting creepy messages to the church member with whom he carried on a long-term affair (he termed it a “marriage”) but who years ago went into hiding with her actual, legal husband to get away from Water of Life.