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Paranormal Investigations and Research
From: Dr. Richard E. Reason II Bsc D.C.
It would be my professional opinion poor Olga suffered from ‘post postpartum Psychosis’. This diagnosis includes paranoia. In this syndrome the patient often thinks the life or, safety of their new infant is at risk. This frequently manifests by accusing those closest of horrendous deeds; such as molestation, attempting to steal or kill the infant.
As a Coroner; I would look carefully into her sudden and unexpected death.
The loss of bodily functions might be related to her reported extremely deep depression. Remember her worst fears had manifested, they took her baby.
However, we must consider many factors when evaluating this or any untimely death.
First is the possibility Mrs. Knutson suffered a cerebral vascular accident, a stroke. It would account for the swift onset of symptoms and rapid deterioration, both mental and physical. Stress is easily understood in this case and clinical correlation straight forward; the hormones regulating vasodilation and heart rate (Cortisol, adrenalin etc.) are released when the body needs to survive under trying conditions. It was designed to help stupid cavemen escape the saber-tooth looking for lunch. Unfortunately, the brain, does not know the difference between the lion chasing you and your delusional belief the neighbor is trying to kill your newborn. It reacts the way it is programmed. This is commonly referred to as “Fight or Flight” and initiates a cascade of biologic activity.
First in this roller-coaster of hormones the pituitary and adrenal glands wake up the entire endocrine system, which immediately causes the arteries to constrict increasing the blood pressure. Next, the heart rate increases; now you have high pressure blood moving through the lungs, brain and heart; brain an important thing to remember. Now, comes the fun stuff, the smooth muscles relax and the striated muscles engorge.
Basically, since your colon is covered in smooth muscle, you void your intestinal tract oh; yes your bladder is also controlled by smooth muscle so you piss yourself too. Now, it is time to increase the respiration to keep all of that blood well oxygenated so you can run!
The increase in inter-cranial pressure caused by all of this does not have to burst a blood vessel; just the dilation of the venous structures can lead to the brain swelling, pushing the brain-stem into the foramen magnum causing the victim to cease breathing. Of course by then they would have most likely suffered an aneurism or full stroke, the effect would be the same.
Another condition we must consider involving the brain would be a tumor. Olga may very well have had a brain tumor slowly growing somewhere in her cranium. My guess would be in the frontal lobes where personality and behavior are located. This may have remained asymptomatic until her pregnancy; when growth hormones begin to rage stimulating not only ‘baby Knutson’ but the mass to also grow. Eight months after delivery there could have been a significant amount of growth in both the infant and her cancer.
I would like to know if she complained of headaches, eye pain, ringing in her ears, black or lightning spots in her vision. Did she have difficulty sleeping and if so what kept her awake or did not allow her to sleep? Any of these symptoms could indicate some form of compromise to the brain.
Now, let me be the death investigator for a moment; skeptical by both nature and training. There is the distinct possibility that the unseen Mr. Knutson was an abuser. If she were struck in the head, shoved, hit, pushed down or suffered a concussion the same symptoms might be observed.
In any of these conditions the use of a narcotic sedative would be contraindicated; giving an individual something like Morphine or Laudanum would exacerbate any cardiovascular issues by being respiratory suppressants. Not to mention that the effect on any neurological conditions which might be present.
With this in mind, I would not consider syphilis. The tertiary or late stage of this disease takes decades to manifest within the central nervous system. Since she was in her early thirties she would not have been infected long enough for her to exhibit the delusions and paranoia. The use of mercury as a treatment would also take a good deal of time to have neurological effects. I assume the people of her time would be well familiar with syphilitic symptomology and would have reported it as so.
As for toxic poisoning, I would question the health of the baby. Had the child been breastfed and the mother exposed to sufficient levels of a poison (especially levels to make mom nuts) would most likely be in the child’s system as well. Since mom is much larger, titers in her blood sufficient to make her koo koo for coco puffs would be more than enough to harm the child FIRST.
Since the reports refer to her not having control of her bodily functions. I wonder what this is code for. Was she vomiting or emptying her bowels; if so for how long. Was she given sufficient water for someone in her condition? Prolonged vomiting or as my mom says ‘the revenge’ can lead to a loss of electrolytes in the blood. These are necessary for the body to regulate your heartbeat, out of balance the patient can suffer cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and die.
Lastly, I would really look at what the doctor gave her to sedate her. I would bet my reputation that I know what happened. She is out of control, yelling and screaming, generally making Hell for everyone else. So, the matron calls the doctor, who arrives later in the evening. Since it’s late and everyone wants to get some sleep. The doctor gives her a ‘good dose’ of Morphine or Laudanum; either intravenously (if she was uncooperative) or, orally. Alone, tired and now overdosed or, incorrectly medicated; she lay down and stopped breathing at some point in the night.
Colorado law requires an autopsy and Coroner’s inquest for any person who dies in custody of law enforcement and I do believe this was also the law then. So, somewhere there might be record or notice of the Coroner’s inquest. During this procedure the Coroner will summon qualified citizens as jurors, there might be record of these summons.
However, claiming she committed suicide would get everyone off the hook; if there had been an investigation (which I doubt.)
My thought on a cause; I believe a frontal lobe neoplasm was the primary cause of Olga’s delusions & paranoia. However, not the cause of her death; I believe she died of cardiac arrest due to dehydration combined with and exacerbated by a narcotic sedative overdose. Negligent homicide by the good physician who should have known better.