Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Vengeful Heart

Chaper One
Excerpt: 3

He began by interviewing Trahan, who told the detective that she met Schmidt in 1982 when she was a new hire at Lafayette General Medical Center. Janice was then twenty, married, and the mother of an infant son, named Justin. Richard, thirty-four and an ex-Marine, was married with three children. Two years later, after becoming Schmidts patient, she also became his lover.

Captain Jim Craft (The Advertiser)
Captain Jim Craft
(The Advertiser)
Trahan said she expected to start a new life with the doctor. She accordingly divorced her husband, just as Schmidt promised that hed divorce his wife. But he never did. Instead, she told Craft, Richard strung her along for ten years. Over that time, he turned brutish, demanding and jealous. In July of 1994 she finally had enough, and broke off the relationship, she said. Two weeks later came the night of the mysterious injection.

Much of the story strained credulity with Craft.

I didnt believe her, he says. She had a 10-year relationship with this guy. Had a child with him. She said he came to her place one night and gave her a shot she didnt want, and she knew it felt different. Then she waited five months after learning she was HIV positive to come to the district attorney to request a criminal action be taken.

Craft took careful notes of his conversation with Janice Trahan. If she was lying, he knew, inconsistencies and contradictions would emerge. They always do.

However, it turned out that Janice Trahan had very plausible reasons for her delay in seeking out the DA. Initially, she told Craft, there was a strong desire not to have her appalling story publicly known. Secondly, Trahan had contacted a civil attorney soon after learning she was sick. It had taken some time for the two of them to sort out her legal options. In the event, Mike Harson would ask Trahan to delay filing any civil action until Capt. Craft was well into his investigation.

Craft also was able to confirm other parts of Trahans story. For example, she told him that shed shared her concerns about the injection the very next morning with nurse Meredith Poche, with whom she worked in the intensive care unit at Lafayette General. Poche confirmed the story. Poche told Craft that Trahan said she suspected the injection Schmidt gave her was not B-12, and she wanted someone to know about the episode. Trahan told the same story to her supervisor, who also confirmed it to Craft.

She also was able to pinpoint the date that the injection occurred, the detective recalls, and she told us that hed called her by cell phone to let her know he was coming over. We subpoenaed his cell phone records and sure enough, on August 4, 1994, theres a phone call to her house from his cell phone at 10:26 PM. Both the date and the time matched.

Craft now sensed there was substance to Trahans allegations, but developing the proof to buttress them would not be simple. He assumed that the disease-tainted syringe no longer existed. Barring an unlikely confession from Dr. Schmidt, the only hope the police had was to somehow isolate the source of the infection. It was a long shot.



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