Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Vengeful Heart

Chaper One
Excerpt: 2

District Attorney Mike Harson (The Advertiser)
District Attorney
Mike Harson
(The Advertiser)
Like any veteran detective, Lafayette police Capt. Jim Craft has seen a lot of behavior that is hard to understand, and much that is harder still to forget. But after nearly 20 years with the department, Craft had encountered nothing nearly so diabolic as the tale he heard in May of 1995 from district attorney Mike Harson. The DA said a local nurse had come forth seeking a criminal action against a prominent Lafayette physician. As Harson told the story, Janice Trahan discovered in January that she was positive for both HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and the hepatitis C virus, too. She accused Dr. Richard Schmidt of infecting her with both viruses via a hypodermic injection the preceding August.

The doctors motive, she said, was revenge. Trahan explained how she had just terminated a ten-year affair with Schmidt. And his intent obviously was homicide; Janice Trahan knew she was a dead woman, talking.

It was a horrifying accusation. Who could wish anyone an excruciating death from AIDS, much less deliberately induce the disease? If the charge was a fabricationas Capt. Craft at first suspected it wasan innocent physicians reputation, and career, possibly hung in the balance. If it was true, then Trahan had been the unsuspecting victim of a murder plot without precedent. No one ever had been charged and tried for attempted murder by HIV injection. It was a brand new way of killing someone.

Harson asked Craft to check out the nurses story, and to do so in the strictest confidence. At Lafayette PD, only Craft and his chief, Charles Crenshaw, knew of his assignment. Craft was forbidden even to tell his wife about it.



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