Couple Found Slain
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
1992: Brian Bechtold was born into a family already overwhelmed with four kids. After 22 years of abuse and neglect, he walked downstairs one morning and shot his father in the back while he was eating his cereal. Then his mother while she was watching TV, hooked up to her oxygen tank.
He then drove to Florida with his dog, Onyx, and for two weeks hid out, thinking “they” were coming after him. When he walked into a police department and turned himself in, he told the officer Jesus had told him to confess. This is his story.
Couple Found Slain takes place twenty years after they admit Brian to the psychiatric hospital. Most patients are released after ten years are so, but they have left Brian there with no straightforward way out. The only treatment they offer the patients is an everyday session with their assigned psychiatrist to talk about what meds they are on. The rest of the day they are left to walk the halls, most of them in a drug-induced stupor, prescribed antipsychotics, which make them tired and listless.
Now in his mid-40s, the doctors at Perkins find no trace of schizophrenia in Brian. Though he is still prescribed medication, he feels better and more progressive if he chooses not to take the drugs. However, his doctors insist he must continue the medicated regimen in order to move to the next level at Perkins, eventually leading to his release into society. Brian even tries to get sent to prison so he could have some freedoms, but is denied.
While Couple Found Slain focuses on Brian, it is really about the endless loop of some patients in psychiatric hospitals. Though Brian’s murder of his parents is not the worst crime committed by hospital residents, his refusal to take medication has left him in limbo, also causing his doctors to believe he is denying his schizophrenia.
Mikita Brottman does a wonderful job of depicting life inside a hospital for the criminally insane. Readers will learn so much from Couple Found Slain, including how frustrating it must be for those who feel they have served their time. In the end, Brian has been at Perkins for 29 years without a plausible release in sight.