Dena Schlosser: The Woman Who Attempted to Amputate Her Daughter’s Arms

Who is Dena Schlosser?

Dena Schlosser, a Plano, Texas native, gained notoriety in 2004 when she attempted to sever the arms of her eleven-month-old daughter, Margaret, with a knife. This horrific act of violence resulted in Margaret’s death, sending shockwaves throughout the country.

However, the legal outcome of this case was equally shocking. Despite her crime, Dena Schlosser was found not guilty because of insanity and sent to outpatient care on November 6, 2008.

This tragic incident highlighted the importance of mental health and raised questions about the legal system’s handling of mentally ill individuals who commit heinous crimes. Dena Schlosser’s story serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of untreated mental illness on families and communities.

Dena Schlosser Biography
Dena Schlosser Biography

Quick Facts

Full NameDena Schlosser
Also Known AsDena Leitner
Age54 years old.
BirthplaceNew York, USA
EyesLight Brown
HairReddish Brown
Alma MaterMarist College
Marital statusDivorced
SpouseJohn Schlosser (Ex-husband)
Net WorthUnder review

Dena Schlosser Birthday

Dena Schlosser was born in 1969. She was born in New York, USA. As of 2023, she is 54 years old.

Early Life and Childhood

Dena Schlosser was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of 8. Even before she reached 13 years of age, Dena had had eight surgeries to implant shunts into her brain, heart, and abdomen. 

In her younger years, Dena was often bullied by her schoolmates, who made fun of her bald head. Dena studied at Marist College, located in Poughkeepsie, New York.

She graduated with a BA in psychology. Dena and her husband, John Schlosser, were students at Marist College. 

After their graduation, Dena and John moved to Plano, Texas. Following the relocation, Dena started working at Children’s World Learning Center.

Later, John forbade Dena from working. As a result, the couple welcomed three daughters together. 

Birth and Murder of Margaret Schlosser

After Margaret’s birth, Dena Schlosser attempted suicide. She was hospitalized and placed in a psychiatric ward. 

Shortly after, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features. The same year, the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) began investigating Dena Schlosser. 

Dena was forbidden to be alone with her children by CPS. As a result, her sister-in-law came to live with Dena and John Schlosser until the CPS order got lifted.

Schlosser thought that Margaret was destined to marry Doyle Davidson, a veterinarian who was the Schlosser family’s pastor. Schlosser had also told her husband that she wanted to give Margaret away to Doyle Davidson just a day before the unfortunate attack.

Margaret Schlosser
Margaret Schlosser

Per a confidential CPS report, John spanked Dena with a wooden spoon in a fit of rage in front of their three children. Then, on November 22, 2004, she attacked little Margaret by attempting to amputate her arms with a knife. While Margaret was badly injured, her older daughters were not physically harmed. 

Margaret died as a result of her injuries. Concerned workers at a local daycare center who had previously talked with Dena Schlosser called the police. 

As per the phone call, Dena had informed the person earlier that day that she intended to amputate Margaret and that the gospel song “He Touched Me” played in the background. When police arrived at Dena’s house, they discovered her quietly sitting down, holding a knife, and covered in blood. 

She was also found singing Christian hymns. Even after her arrest, Dena repeatedly chanted, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.”

Dena Schlosser Arrest and Trial

Following her arrest, psychologist David Self testified in court that Dena Schlosser had informed him about a news story about a boy mauled by a lion. Dena was deeply disturbed by this news, believing that this incident was a sign of the coming apocalypse. 

Moreover, she had confessed to Self that God ordered her to cut off Margaret’s arms and her own. Dena’s attack on Margaret was described as a “religious frenzy,” according to Self.

The psychologist revealed that Dena had postpartum psychosis. However, owing to her insanity, Dena did not face a prison sentence. 

Instead, she was admitted to the North Texas State Hospital. As per court orders, Dena had to visit the hospital until she no longer remained a threat to herself or others.

Dena’s roommate was Andrea Yates, a woman who had drowned her five children in a bathtub. In addition, it was revealed during the trial that Dena and John Schlosser attended Water of Life Church, whose pastor was Doyle Davidson.

Even before Margaret’s tragic death, Dena Schlosser had taken antipsychotic drugs for several years. Pastor Doyle Davidson believed that Dena’s mental illness was demonic.

Dena Schlosser
Dena Schlosser

As a result, John Schlosser stopped buying Dena’s medication regularly. Making an appearance in court, Doyle Davidson testified that he believed all mental illnesses to be demonic. 

Following Dena Schlosser’s arrest, her older daughters were taken by CPS and put into foster care. Later, the CPS allowed John Schlosser to regain custody of the children under the condition that his sister stays with them. 

Additionally, John had to complete psychotherapy and parenting classes. He later regained full custody of his daughters.

Raising his and Dena’s daughter as a single father, John also filed for divorce from Dena. As per their divorce settlement, Dena was prohibited from ever having contact with John or their daughters.

The news that Dena would be released into outpatient care broke out on November 6, 2008. Dena was required to visit a psychiatrist once a week, take medication regularly, compulsorily be on birth control, and not have unsupervised contact with children.

Where is Dena Schlosser now?

The local firefighters found Dena Schlosser naked on the streets of Richardson at 2 AM in April 2010. As a result, she was recommitted. 

Reacting to this, Dena’s attorney, David Haynes, gave his opinion that the judge made the right decision. Later, Dena was released to outpatient status. 

There had been no news about Dena Schlosser until 2012, when WFAA-TV in Dallas broke the news that Dena had been working under her maiden name, Leitner, at a Terrell-based Walmart store. Not too long after the revelations were made, Dena was fired.

In December 2020, Dena Schlosser received a court order to stay committed to a state hospital. In addition, an episode of Deadly Women called “Evil Guardians” included a segment about her wrongdoings on August 23, 2013. Even before this, Dena appeared in the 2005 documentary The God Who Wasn’t There.

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