COMING FROM HENRY HOLT IN JUNE 2021
Critically acclaimed author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman offers literary true crime writing at its best, taking us into the life of a murderer after his conviction―when most stories end but the defendant’s life goes on.
On February 21, 1992, 22-year-old Brian Bechtold walked into a police station in Port St. Joe, Florida and confessed that he’d shot and killed his parents in their family home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He said he’d been possessed by the devil. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and ruled “not criminally responsible” for the murders on grounds of insanity.
But after the trial, where do the “criminally insane” go? Brottman reveals Brian’s inner life leading up to the murder, as well as his complicated afterlife in a maximum security psychiatric hospital, where he is neither imprisoned nor free. During his 27 years at the hospital, Brian has tried to escape and been shot by police, and has witnessed three patient-on-patient murders. He’s experienced the drugging of patients beyond recognition, a sadistic system of rewards and punishments, and the short-lived reign of a crazed psychiatrist-turned-stalker.
In the tradition of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Couple Found Slain is an insider’s account of life in the underworld of forensic psych wards in America and the forgotten lives of those held there, often indefinitely.
“Few have written more eloquently―and beautifully―about the terror of an institution that makes it virtually impossible to prove their sanity. Mikita Brottman shows the injustices of America’s mental health care system with urgency, empathy and a keen eye for detail. It gives you goosebumps to think that almost anyone could end up in one of these soul-crushing, Kafkaesque machines.”
―Sabine Heinlein, author of Among Murderers
“A stunning achievement. This heartbreaking expose will enrage readers who yearn for a humane and rational treatment approach for those who are found by the U.S. court system to be ‘criminally insane.’ This is not a book for the timid or the weak of heart, but it’s an absolutely essential read for those who demand fairness, coherence and compassion in our treatment of mental illness.”
―Tom Nugent, author of Death at Buffalo Creek
“Mikita Brottman’s COUPLE FOUND SLAIN is a riveting account of a terrible crime and its aftermath. Deeply researched and compulsively readable, Brottman exposes the myriad ways that forensic psychiatry and a calcified system fail Bechtold and others judged ‘not criminally responsible’ for their actions. A gripping investigation that questions not only the sentence without end meted out to Bechtold, but the psychiatric dogma used to justify his continued incarceration.”
―Deborah Rudacille, author of The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism and Transgender Rights
“Brottman has established herself as a leading voice in modern true crime. She finds empathy in the criminal and shows compassion for those whom society wishes to simply forget. This is not just a well-written book, it’s an important book. A must-read.”
―James Renner, author of True Crime Addict
Advance Reader Reviews from Goodreads:
“I couldn’t stop reading this book. This is story telling at its finest. Not only a terrific story for true crime buffs but the story continues with the life of Brian Bechtold after his conviction. If you don’t feel something after reading this book then you aren’t alive.”
“Magnificently-researched non-fiction story about Brian Bechtold who, declared incapable of standing trial after murdering his parents, spends decades in Clifton Perkins Hospital. Brian’s family history is compelling and tragic. The writer does a masterful job of telling the family story.”
“What makes this book different than other crime books is the author’s focus on Bechtold’s life in the criminal mental hospital after the crime. The population is described as is the personnel and treatment strategies that makes steady, consistent work impossible. This book is done so well. Highly recommend!”
“Gripping, well researched and covered with compassion. It digs into a broken criminal justice and mental health system in our country. A sad example of where the systems failed before he had a chance to be successful.”