Kristen Dewald was charged with murdering her husband – a University of Houston professor – about a year ago, and according to new documents filed today, Dewald had attempted to kill her husband with a pair of scissors about three weeks earlier.
Officers arrested Dewald for that stabbing, and after she reported hearing voices that commanded her to kill, she was taken to the Harris County Psychiatric Center for evaluation and treatment.
"[She] really felt like she had to get rid of him with the scissors," reported a doctor with the psychiatric center. Dewald told doctors about her long history of mental illness, including a suicide attempt several years before meeting her husband.
Kristen and James had been married for about two years, and they moved to Houston from New Mexico about six weeks before the murder because James had accepted a job teaching physics at the university.
Reports from the psych center reveal that since moving to a Houston apartment, Dewald heard slamming doors and people inside the apartment who were laughing and mocking her. She felt threatened by violence.
During a week of counseling and medication, the visions and voices stopped and Dewald showed that she had leveled out. After being visited by family and friends, she reported hopes of going home and the center discharged her after seven days.
It seems that James wanted his wife to come back without any charges, and none were filed by the district attorney's office. Kristen voluntarily returned to the psychiatric center for evaluation about a week after she left, and she reported taking her meds and feeling okay, but James was stabbed to death about nine days later.
It's easy to second guess at this point, but it's impossible to know what, if anything, could have prevented the killing. Dewald is scheduled to appear in court on December 3.
-- Paul Knight
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.