By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Kathy, who works for Cigna Health Care and has some background in medical issues, suspects hormones accounted for Elizabeth's improved mental state: Several studies have shown that the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which controls mood and anxiety during pregnancy, can have a salutary effect on brain chemistry; its sharp ã decline after delivery is thought to be responsible for postpartum depression. As stable as she seemed, though, Kathy claims that Elizabeth remained vague about her due date, and insisted she was not interested in having anyone accompany her to the hospital. And so on Monday, September 2, 1997, when Elizabeth went into labor, she took a cab to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Zelazo Faber was born at 7:40 a.m. the next day. On September 4, she left the hospital the same way she came -- in a cab. Discharge reports say that she was "paranoid, delusional and tearful."
She called home for the first time after the delivery the following Friday, from a pay phone at the Y. Right away, Mark Faber says, "She sounded paranoid, and pretty overwhelmed. It seemed to me that she was sobbing. She would fall silent for several minutes, and then come back to ask us, as parents, 'How do you take care of a baby?'"
Kathy tried to comfort her, but Elizabeth was inconsolable: "She said the baby wasn't eating very much, that he was only taking about a mouthful of milk a day. She said she had a sense that the baby was trying to have a bowel movement and couldn't. I asked her if there was anyone there she could talk to, because I was thinking this was a facility for homeless, pregnant women. She said that she didn't need to ask questions of anyone, because she wasn't an idiot."
In the background, both Mark and Kathy heard what she thought was a scuffle. "Here's what it sounded like," says Mark. "It sounded like somebody on the floor came up to look at the baby. I could hear, 'Oh, isn't that a cute baby!' And Lynn started to yell at the person and said, 'Get away from me, bitch!' Lynn said to us, 'Somebody just tried to hit me.' But I could hear the tone of voice. It sounded like someone being friendly."
Elizabeth called again late that night, "and I mulled over calling somebody at the Y," Kathy says. "But I gotta tell you, at this point I was so tired of being labeled the interfering mom. My whole thought was, in the months prior to the delivery of this child, if there's ever a place where she could be getting help, this is it." So she waited until 9 the next morning, when she contacted Jonathan and Rachelle and asked them to check up on their sister. Rachelle promised she would. That afternoon, Jonathan called back with the news of Elizabeth's arrest.
AT FIRST, ELIZABETH SAID IT WAS AN ACCIdent. She had been bathing her baby, she told police, and walked away to get a washcloth. Distracted by a television show, she left him there for 20 minutes. Fearing that her baby had drowned in the bathtub, she had punctured a hole in his side in an effort to "let the water out." Later, she would tell a different story. She had noticed something odd about her baby. He had sat up, and said, "Maybe we should get some pizza." A sports announcer during a televised college football game told her that the baby was possessed. "How long are you going to keep the devil's child?" he asked. He ordered her to kill him. And so she did, first by holding Zelazo's head underwater (with the help, she said, of two apparitions -- the brief acquaintance who fathered her baby and a male friend) until he stopped breathing, and then by stabbing him to make sure he was dead. Better that, she reasoned, than let him live riddled with demons bent on possessing his tiny body.
Infanticide occurs in 4 percent of the cases in which new mothers report postpartum psychosis; documented risk factors include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a history of depression. Sally Zinman wonders why no one at the YMCA was monitoring the behavior of a young, and obviously disturbed, young woman with a infant. "As few services as there are for men with mental illness," she says, "there are even fewer for women. Why didn't anyone anticipate her depression?"
Or, for that matter, notice it. Wade Trimmer, her caseworker at My Friend's Place, a support network for runaways up to 24 years old, complained that Elizabeth had lashed out at him the morning before because he couldn't get her a bus pass fast enough. The program coordinator at the Y, Linda Burch, reported to the court that she had some concern for Elizabeth, that she'd been "acting strangely" and "looking exhausted"; another YMCA employee, Mina Mack, filed an incident report the night before Elizabeth killed her child, stating that Elizabeth had physically assaulted a fellow resident, Liza Hess. Hess told LAPD senior investigator Kevin Sleeth that Elizabeth had hit her in the face with the phone.