by Starks Shrink

On a chilly night early in December in Kalamazoo, MI, Dr. Teleka Patrick disappeared, leaving a trail of puzzling clues and a distraught family.  Her car was found along the highway, 100 miles away from her home and job and two hours after she’d last been seen. In it, police found her wallet with driver’s license, credit cards and cash, still intact. And thus the search began.

It was discovered that a colleague of Dr Patrick’s at the Borgess Medical Center where she was doing her residency, had loaned Teleka $100 in cash and driven her to a nearby Radisson Plaza Hotel, that evening, despite the fact that Teleka’s car was parked at att9the Medical Center and her apartment was a mere three miles away. Dr Patrick had also left her purse and cell phone behind at the medical center and never returned to retrieve them. Video surveillance at the Radisson hotel, where she’d been dropped off, shows an agitated Dr Patrick, speaking with a desk clerk for 14 minutes where, according to hotel employees, she tried to rent a room with cash but was turned away. The last witness to see her alive was the hotel shuttle bus driver who took her back to her car, parked at the Borgess Medical Center.  The final sighting was when her vehicle was reported in a 911 call as driving erratically on I-94 west, though the caller could not identify the driver of the car. The police soon found her Lexus abandoned in a ditch with a flat tire. It was 10 PM on December 5, 2013.

att11Teleka Patrick grew up in Queens, in New York the oldest of three children born to Matthias and Irene Patrick.  Theirs was a strict and devout household. Matthias was a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist church for over 30 years; her brother is currently a church musician and Teleka and her sister were very active in their churches.  Teleka went on earn her Bachelor’s degree at Oakwood University in Alabama, a private University owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, not unlike Loma Linda University where she received her degree in medicine and Ph.D. in biochemistry. These were no small feats; Teleka was a determined and ambitious woman.

While at Loma Linda, Teleka met her soon to be husband. Ismael Calderon, though an online dating site in early 2006. The internet was to become a friend and foe to Teleka. They were married in July of that same year, but things quickly began to att10crumble for Teleka, personally, emotionally and mentally.  It’s not clear if students or instructors at Loma Linda were aware of the tumult going on in Teleka’s head but her husband certainly was.  In an interview with Inside Edition, Calderon discloses that Teleka confided in him that she was hearing voices and having delusions.  It became evident to Calderon that Teleka was unstable and he urged her to seek help for her mental health issues. According to Calderon, she agreed initially but then he rapidly became a part of her paranoid delusions and she accused him of trying to sabotage her career amongst other things.  At some point in 2009, Calderon felt he had no choice but to remove himself and his children from their residence in order to preserve their safety. When asked if Teleka would simply wander off, Calderon responded, “…I believe that if she believed in things that werent realitythat she might want to hide in a box because its so terrifying.

att13Had she sought help when urged, we might now be telling a different story. Teleka’s body was found April 6th in Lake Charles not far from where her car was recovered. The autopsy ruled that her death was due to drowning and no foul play was detected. Her parents, however, had hired a private investigator and could not accept the possibility that her death was accidental or by her own hand, and had another autopsy performed which yielded the same results.

What happened between the meltdown of her marriage and her untimely death?  We can piece together facets of her life through her own digital footprints.  She was very active on twitter logging tens of thousands of tweets on multiple accounts in the year att8before her death beginning in April of 2013.  In June of 2013, she started her first year of medical residency at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, shocking her siblings and parents, since she had been offered residencies at prestigious schools including Yale and Harvard, and had no family or friends in Kalamazoo. Or so they believed. Teleka believed otherwise. Through her tweets we can see that she believed that she was being controlled directly by God’s hand and that she had been sent to Kalamazoo to be with her one true love — a man who she’d never met and who had filled her every thought for a year before she moved to be near him.  A man of faith and of fame, Marvin Sapp, the grammy winning gospel singer, had captivated her heart. She believed that she had a mystical connection to the married pastor and father, and could feel his thoughts communicating with her.  So she moved to Kalamazoo, where he was located and joined his church, even though his ministry is Pentecostal and she was a lifelong Seventh Day Adventist.

att5Shortly after her move, Marvin Sapp filed for a personal protection order, (PPO) against Teleka. In it, he cites that he had received over 400 letters and emails from Teleka, that she had come to his home, contacted his children and called him her husband.  His order was granted with the judge indicating that there was clear proof of stalking. Sapp’s church sent a letter to Teleka in September of 2013, informing her that she was removed as a member and that the protection order had been granted.

att6When the media broke the news of the PPO in January, the public was outraged that this information had been concealed by the family. Web sites and discussion forums had already been active for a month by then, trying to decipher clues as to who could have frightened this woman to the point that she fled for her life. The family had to issue a statement saying that her mental state was of no consequence to the search, since they feared that the police and the public would stop looking for Teleka if she was thought to have fled. They treated the PPO as if were not indicative of any particular patterns and in doing so, misused the public trust as they clung to their belief that her disappearance had to have been foul play.

After her move and despite the PPO, Teleka’s tweets and online activity accelerated and showed a woman in need of help.  While most of the tweets are not directed to a particular person, we can surmise that she mostly intended them for Marvin Sapp based att7upon a myriad of clues in her multiple accounts, too numerous to detail herein. Tweets such as “Does the tweeting make you uncomfortable now that I’m here? Like it is too close for comfort now?” and going on to tell him how he had come to her in the night (mystically or delusionally) were obviously meant for Pastor Sapp. These tweets were followed by rants about demons who were trying to attack her (another common theme). Teleka clearly believed that they had some sort of deep relationship, though he never responded to any of her messages. One set of tweets shortly after she moved to Kalamazoo in June was particularly alarming in that it shows she was having delusions outside of her home during normal activities such as having her hair done:

The movies were showing Christians converting to witch magic and becoming vampires. Christians dying from witch doctor magic. So they were strongly exalting Satan over Christ. The braiders were enjoying the movies and watching them like nothing was wrong. Then there were kids running around and singing the movie theme song which was some chant or something like that. I was like what the heck?Another thing that bothered me is generally demons like to wait until I’m by myself to bug me.

Taken alone, this might not mean much, you could write it off as a one-off, but even so it would be odd, since she was tweeting without tagging anyone. But when taken as a whole, including tweets such as this:

You know you wake me up in the morning sometimes when you think about me? Like you’re calling to me or something _ And I’m like yes love, good morning. Or sometimes, what’s wrong love, are you okay? interspersed with: “You need to understand that I am not judging you at all. What I am telling you is that the devil used ME to answer your demonic prayer.”

attWe get a sense that something is truly amiss. But when you also look at the videos she posted, any doubts that she is suffering from an unchecked mental illness evaporate. Her videos were just this side of seductive and showed her singing, cooking and setting a place at the table for an unnamed and absent lover. In one video, you can even see her cock her head, as though listening to a voice that no one else can hear and then proclaiming, Yes, I felt you, as though someone had responded.

Her tweets, videos and behavior show a person who is vacillating between euphoric delusional highs at being in love and mystically connected with the object of her desire, while accusing her same love interest of channeling demons to corrupt her soul. Many people with delusions fixate on God and demons, believing themselves to be in direct contact with or actual conduits for them. Teleka’s strong history with the Seventh Day att4Adventists and subsequent involvement with Pentecostals may have fueled those delusions, while at the same time cloaking them in religion as opposed to the illness that was so clearly present. It’s tragic that she never got help, especially given that she was a medical resident in psychiatry.  Often mental illnesses are exacerbated by lack of sleep, stress or new environments. Teleka certainly had all those stressors throughout her schooling and her ability to excel academically under those conditions may well be an indicator that she was going through  “manic” phases.  The fact that she was able to manage school and even a marriage for a period of time indicates that her psychosis was cyclical rather than sustained, which makes it easier to understand why it did not come to a head earlier.

There is anecdotal evidence that her brother was aware of her issues, but perhaps not how deep they were. Her own tweets indicate that she had struggled for years and that her family blamed it on her straying from her faith. It’s impossible, however, to att3discern whether her family was actually “demonizing her”, as she called it or whether this too was part of her delusions.  We do know that her family took great pains to cover up her illness even while she was missing. Perhaps this can be attributed to her religious background with its unhealthy insistence that mental illness is a personal flaw brought on by egotism, perhaps instigated by Satan or demons.  This belief may well have prevented Teleka from seeking help and may have been an even larger motivator for her family’s lack of intervention. Teleka Patrick’s story from her own perspective will never be known, but hopefully we can learn from her life and take the time to notice when people around us are experiencing life threatening illnesses. Had someone noticed the early warning signs of psychosis, Dr. Teleka Patrick could well be alive today treating patients with compassion and understanding.

Please take time to learn about early warning signs of mental illness: http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/First_Episode/About.htm

 

Please click here to view The Starks Shrink’s Previous Posts:

Rehabbing the Wounded Juvenile Will Save Their Souls (and Ours)

Skylar Neese and the Mean Girls Who Killed Her

 

20 Responses to Teleka Patrick Needed a Psychiatrist, Not a Pastor!

  1. liselasalle says:

    Great article. It did not help Teleka that her family was ashamed of her condition and refused to face reality. Her husband did and it was not enough.

    Very difficult for someone to seek treatment when they are fully functioning on some level and losing it in some other ways. How scary.

    The rambling online is also very typical as it is so easy to create an identity and a fictional virtual reality.

    Luka Magnotta went amuck online for so long before it came home to roost.

    I wish she could have received treatment but at least she did not take any other innocent victims with her when she departed from this nightmare.

  2. Starks Shrink says:

    In a number of her tweets, she listed the reasons she concluded that she was NOT mentally ill. Anosognosia,is a feature of psychosis in which the brain actually prevents one from knowing he/she is ill. Most people believe that lack of insight is denial but in actuality they are incapable of knowing.

  3. Darcia Helle says:

    Sad that her husband wasn’t able to or didn’t attempt to commit her involuntarily. Maybe it’s time our courts put something in place so that, when someone is clearly disturbed as she was, counseling becomes a mandatory part of the PPO. We can’t expect the mentally ill to have a moment of clarity in which they realize they need psychiatric help. Someone has to step in, and too often the family isn’t willing to do that.

    • Starks Shrink says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is a fine line between personal rights and protection of the person. Due to privacy laws, the family cannot even be contacted unless the client (patient) permits it in writing.

    • Kate says:

      I agree.

      So much attention was not given to this case, in my humble opinion, unlike those of Elliott Rodgers and others most recently. When I first heard of her disappearance, I thought she had been kidnapped, and her murder was just a typical “dump the victim”.

      Another reason why there needs to be more stringent guidelines and regulations for those who refuse treatment when it is a must.

  4. Rick says:

    Very interesting post, Starks! As I was reading it, I began to wonder how much of Dr. Patrick’s malady can be traced to the belief system of her strange religion and the demons and angels which inhabit it. You answered that question “yes” in the following passage: “Many people with delusions fixate on God and demons, believing themselves to be in direct contact with or actual conduits for them. Teleka’s strong history with the Seventh Day Adventists and subsequent involvement with Pentecostals may have fueled those delusions, while at the same time cloaking them in religion as opposed to the illness that was so clearly present.”

    On this Easter Sunday, is there anyone out there who wants to handle the rattlesnakes in my backyard? I promise you that God will protect you from their venom and He will render it powerless. Please pass me the Liquid Drano while you’re at! :)

  5. nonamelady says:

    This is probably the best article about Teleka I have read. Nicely done.

  6. […] Teleka Patrick Needed a Psychiatrist, Not a Pastor! […]

  7. Diane says:

    the spiritual world of God, demons etc, will always be regarded in any mental, physical or psychic disease.We have been given the priviledge of living on Earth to choose between the good and bad forces we struggle with.Only so much our free will is dependant upon ourselves to choose our path in life.It is said that we are not up against each other but forces that control us. our bodies are controlled by the force of death. there are good and bad forces in control of us. these bad forces make us sick and weak. then take over and control our bodies in one way or another.for better or worse.for there is a fight between good and bad forces for reign of your body.bad forces will take us out of this world as soon as possible.Especially a Doctor.hopefully these forces only took the physical body.never be affraid of death of the body in which bad forces can control. But, of the one that can take your soul, God.

    • Starks Shrink says:

      Diane, I am reminded of the fable about a drowning man who refuses a raft a boat and a helicopter because he believes that God will save him and when he dies, God tells him that HE sent the raft the boat and the helicopter. No matter what your beliefs tell you is the cause of illness, it is incumbent upon us to use all that we have on hand to fight the illness, including medical and psychiatric help.

  8. […] Teleka Patrick Needed a Psychiatrist, Not a Pastor! […]

  9. […] Teleka Patrick Needed a Psychiatrist, Not a Pastor! […]

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