Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Vengeful Heart

Chaper One
Excerpt: 9

This was May, 1994. Trahan broke off with Schmidt two months later. Then came the mysterious injection. Within days of the shot, Janice developed persistent flulike symptoms. On August 12, 1994, Richard ordered blood work done. According to Janice, he told her the tests showed that her white blood cell count was a little low, but not to worry. She probably had a viral infection of some sort.

On August 16 Trahan visited her optometrist, Dr. Donner Mizelle. She complained that her throat was sore, and her lymph nodes were swollen. She was running a persistent fever. A pain had started up behind her eyes.

Thirteen days later, after suffering a two-day migraine, Trahan went to Dr. Robert Martinez, a neurologist who specialized in sleep disorders. She also complained of painful ulcers on her throat.

The ulcers, together with her swollen lymph nodes, were classic symptoms of a viral infection. So Dr. Martinez referred Janice Trahan to yet another physician, an ear-nose-and-throat specialist named Bradley Chastant. He saw Trahan immediately, and immediately ordered a lymph node biopsy, performed on September 16. The result indicated a so-called viral reactive infection. However, a lymphoma cancer of the lymph nodes couldnt be ruled out.

Chastant referred Trahan to Dr. Luis Mesa, an oncologist, or cancer specialist, who first examined her in his office that day, September 16. However, before seeing Janice, Mesa called her former lover to discuss her condition.

Dr. Mesa would testify that Dr. Schmidt said he suspected Janice suffered from an unspecified viral infection, although it couldnt be HIV. Shed already tested negative for that. As a consequence, Dr. Mesa did not order his own HIV test, noting on Trahans chart that shed already tested negative.

Janice Trahans symptoms would not go away. On November 12, she visited her dentist, Dr. Neil Bernard. He noted that her gums were inflamed, her lymph nodes were swollen and her white blood count was elevated.

Finally, on December 15, Trahan went to her OB-GYN, Dr. Wayne Daigle, for her annual check-up. Like every other doctor before him, Daigle suspected a viral infection. Unlike the others, he ordered a battery of lab work that included the HIV test. Five days later, the awful news came back: She was HIV positive.

Daigle waited for the Christmas holidays to be over before delivering what was tantamount to a death sentence. Five months after the fact, a stunned Janice Trahan finally understood what actually had occurred that night in early August. In all likelihood, Richard had murdered her.

Trahan asked Dr. Daigle to contact Schmidt, whose office was downstairs from the OB-GYNs. The two physicians met at the buildings back door. Daigle testified that Schmidt seemed shocked to learn that Trahan was HIV positive. Since Daigle was aware of their ten-year relationship, he presumed that Schmidt was HIV positive, too. Schmidt, however, insisted that he was not infected, that he felt fine, and that he did not need to be tested.

In a telephone conversation later that evening, Daigle offered to have Schmidt tested anonymously. Schmidt again declined, and suggested that Trahan may have contracted AIDS in a variety of ways that had nothing to do with him. He specially mentioned her contact with AIDS patients at the hospital, her other sexual partners and her possible exposure to HIV during her three abortions.

Daigle didnt believe any of it, and informed Schmidt that he was duty-bound to inform the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners that Schmidt was potentially HIV positive.



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