Clarifying Michael's Motives
"How can Michael Schiavo be remotely diabolical like you suggest if he spent so much time, love and effort on Terri's rehabilitation in the early days of her failed recovery?"
1. His goal after the incident (whether pathological or practical) was not necessarily to kill, but to imprison.
Why is a good question. The fact of the matter is that he did it. From start to finish he sought to control, and succeeded in controlling, access to Terri. The parents were never given a reason for his odd behavior, even in the early days when they still believed he had Terri's best interests at heart. Soon after the parents arrived at the hospital to be with their daughter, Michael arranged exclusive guardianship for himself with the help of an attorney.
To this day he has thwarted their attempts for independent access to her, even though he has moved onto a new girlfriend and kids and expressed no reason to remain except to carry out Terri's since-discredited wish to be euthanized. This iron control has extended from the very beginning, through the time of "good faith" into the settlement award phase and the subsequent cessation of her treatment right up to the present day.
The reason is not well-understood and points to the need to protect himself from incrimination. Realize that if he was responsible for her 1990 collapse, his options were to
- Nurse her to full recovery while remaining her link to the outside world
- Restrict all contact with the outside world as long as she was alive and responsive, or
- See her dead
in order to avoid criminal charges. That is not to say it happened this way, only that he'd have needed to do so if he is indeed guilty of felony assault (or worse).
He'd also have had to woo the family until the 4-year statute on attempted murder expired so they didn't suspect foul play in the meantime. He'd also have needed to control access to the medical records so the Schindlers didn't find out what had really been going on.
We can assume this effort was successful. Terri's brother asserts they sought criminal charges against Michael once the missing bone scans surfaced in 2002, twelve years after the incident. The Florida state prosecutor indicated there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Michael Schiavo for attempted strangulation but it was too late to press charges. Realize that Mr. Schiavo would not likely be her "guardian" at this moment, and perhaps not a free man either, if it were legal in Florida to prosecute the crime.
It was possible he may have not been intending to kill her. Attempted murder may have been the charge but a more appropriate charge may have been felony assault. However, once the "accident" occurred he may have had a need to keep her quiet.
2. He may have had reason early on to hope for a complete recovery.
Terri was responding well to initial treatment and started speaking some basic words even without the kind of therapy Dr. Hammesfahr believes might rehabilitate Terri.
[UPDATE: If she could speak at an early point then it is presumed she should also be able to speak today. If anyone asserts differently, they must explain why this would be the case. If she was speaking before, but is now in PVS and unable to communicate (let alone speak), they must also be able to explain why she has "deteriorated" to that point since the initial injuries were sustained. To date no one has brought forward such medical evidence. Nor has any credible medical argument been made as to why this would be the case. This is a separate issue and should be investigated immediately.] -RD
Note in particular that the 1991 bone scans (that surfaced in 2002) showing her back and neck trauma, broken femur and broken ankle (as well as other abnormalities) were not taken until 53 weeks after the collapse, so it's not well understood exactly when each of those injuries occurred.
It's also worth pointing out that Michael was Terri's exclusive guardian even during the initial stages of her convalescence. This made it difficult for the Schindler family to assess what their son-in-law was up to, what the results of their daughter's medical tests indicated (including the bone scan obviously) and what opinion they ought to have of their son-in-law's motives or vested interests, as all information was passed along second-hand by Michael. They were cut off and out of the loop for reasons known only to Michael.
According to Terri's sister [H&C 3-21-05] the effort, obvious attention and loving interest he showed toward Terri in the early days faded after he received the malpractice award in 1993, then vanished altogether once he established relations with a live-in girlfriend. It was then that suspicions began to mount with the Schindlers about exactly what information he'd been sharing with them since the incident. If they'd suspected strangulation in the beginning it might have been possible to subpeona the medical records, but by then it was too late for them even to press charges against him for the incident.
In spite of this there is a good reason to obtain those records now: to prove there is sufficient basis for removing Michael as the guardian. It may not be possible to convict Michael of the initial crime but the records might provide further clues to augment other incriminating evidence such as his =inconsistent statements on the night of Terri's collapse= and subsequent abusive behavior toward other women.
After the new medical data was revealed - where the theory of "oxygen deprivation through heart attack precipitated by potassium imbalance caused by bulimia" (an inference chain at least 4 levels deep) was thrown into question, there is now a question (not considered by the courts) as to whether medical malpractice was ever even involved. It is possible that the $1.5+ million settlement amounted to insurance fraud.
If the potassium imbalance that purportedly "stopped her heart" was the result of physical trauma then it was likely precipitated by hyperalkemia, not bulimia. The imbalance such as it was may not have played a role in either heart failure or her brain injury. The diagnosis of heart attack or heart failure is in dispute as well.
What if ordinary strangulation was the primary means of oxygen deprivation? It requires a lot of physical force to sustain the neck injuries established on her bone scan. Michael may deserve the benefit of the doubt on the specific charge of attempted murder by strangulation because not enough is known about the precise injuries suffered and what they reveal. But the totality of the evidence reveals that something happened, something that Michael has not adequately explained.
3. A motive to deprive her and then kill her may have grown out of the need to move on with his life on the one hand, yet keep her silent on the other.
Realize that if (1) he had hurt her on the night of the incident, and (2) she awoke with her memory intact, he would have a lot of explaining to do. The reports that he loved her deeply, even jealously, are likely to be true. So it's fair to say that when there was hope of a significant recovery, he was looking forward to two things:
1. Helping her recover
2. Putting himself between her and her family, recovery, and all else
Only those two things together could, even partially, save his bacon. He wouldn't necessarily be redeemed but if she still loved him (or were still scared of him) he might at least have an opportunity to control the situation, or mitigate the fallout somewhat, before the parents learned of it. If he managed to get her back on her feet he might have imagined they could resume their life together. That would mitigate any consequences he might face.
But once it became clear that (1) she was really injured, her recovery would be slow, and he might really be blamed for it if she were able to communicate and (2) death became an option available to him, but only under the condition that she be in PVS, it's very likely that he abandoned his attempts to "restore" her to a sufficient state of health to get him off the hook, and made every attempt to make her situation appear worse than it really was. Not that it happened for sure, but there was a strong motive for it.
It's likely the shift happened on both fronts nearly simultaneously, from one logically consistent state to another. The earlier strategy was one of mitigation through recovery. The new strategy was mitigation through deprivation and, ultimately, death.
Note that both strategies necessitated his utter control of the situation and of Terri's communication with the outside world. And both were motivated by self-preservation. That is the incriminating behavior pointing to both an assault of some kind that started this and a subsequent refusal to let the parents or family be a part of Terri's life, or turn over his since-discredited guardianship to them, whether it was during her rehabilitation phase or her long phase of deprivation.
Does it make sense now?
[UPDATE 3/25/05]: To some degree Michael's winning the settlement award - which, according to witness Francis Casel, changed his persona from that of a "snivelling wimp" to that of a strutting thug - combined with her "lack" of progress (why is still an open question) from an initially promising course of treatment - made the point moot. Both pieces fell into place. He got the award AND she was containable. (Though tenacious: "Why won't the bitch DIE?" was something said at least once according to sworn witness Carla Sawyer Iyer.)
After that it was all over for Terri. Minimal (legal) medical care prohibited on the orders of Michael, insulin vials & needles discovered in the trash shortly after Michael had been there (and reported to the police), induced severe hypoglycemia (which critics argue would not have been treatable with a "half-measure" like dextrose under the tongue, etc. - so the "he said", "she said" debate rages on) - the whole bag of horrors.