Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doctor Saw Paranoia Before Fire

I do believe that this Dr. understates the risks of domestic violence. Not only is he negligent about protecting victims of family abuse, but this doctor also accuses domestic violence victims of parental alienation, but tries to disguise the accusations as "covert" or "subtle" alienation.

His evaluations have not only resulted in the deaths of these 2 children, but have resulted in abused mothers and children being re-victimized in court.

Doctor Saw Paranoia Before Fire

BYLINE: DON JORDAN, Palm Beach Post Staff WriterDATE: December 29, 2006PUBLICATION: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)EDITION: CSECTION: A SECTIONPAGE: 1AMEMO: Ran all editions.

A man who killed himself and his two children when he set his suburban Lake Worth home ablaze last week seemed to be "a good parent" but had "extreme feelings of paranoia," said a psychologist who evaluated Tony Camacho and his family in April.Phil Heller, a Boca Raton child psychologist with expertise in clinical and forensic psychology, was appointed by the courts to conduct a series of interviews and psychological tests with each member of the family - Camacho, 39; his ex-wife, Jennie Carter, 37; and their children, Nelson, 10, and Crystal, 8 - to determine the best custody arrangement in the couple's impending divorce. What he found in Camacho was a man who obsessively craved attention, was racked by stress and failed to compromise."He thought of the world as a very threatening place," Heller said Thursday. "He would only deal with rationality, not with his feelings."The April interviews offered a glimpse into the family's home life, where Camacho was the more active parent while Carter worked long hours.According to court statements, Carter worked as a technician. Camacho was self-employed and worked from home for Adjustable Comfort, which repairs adjustable beds, earning $33,000 a year.Carter could not be reached for comment."Camacho was a good parent," Heller said. "The kids were never harmed. He took the children to doctor's appointments."But when Heller asked the children, both said they would rather live with Carter. Nelson wanted to take care of his hardworking mom and be the man of the house. Crystal yearned for a female bond.Camacho resented the children's love for their mother, Heller said."They had a fondness for her that Tony would obscure," he said. "Tony couldn't handle it."Camacho constantly denigrated Carter in front of the children, and when Heller proposed joint custody on the condition that Camacho change his behavior, Camacho wasn't interested, Heller said. He wanted only full custody.Heller recommended that the courts grant Carter custody. That's when the doctor said he saw the full extent of Camacho's obsessive behavior."He would not stop calling me," Heller said. "He always had something new to tell me. Nobody called obsessively like him."Camacho's emotional problems may have stemmed from a troubled childhood, Heller said. His father abandoned the family after divorcing his mother when he was 5. He grew up in poverty and was forced to quit high school and work to support his family, Heller said."He really had lifted himself up by his bootstraps," Heller said.Heller never changed his recommendation, and on Dec. 13, the courts finalized the divorce. Camacho was ordered to leave the house on Fairview Street, west of Lake Worth , by Jan. 12 so Carter could move back with her children. She had been living nearby at her parents' home in Lake Worth .Camacho set the house on fire eight days after the ruling, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office officials said. He died of smoke inhalation after stabbing Crystal in the back, severing her spine and leaving her paralyzed as the flames engulfed their home, according to the sheriff's office.The county medical examiner has not determined whether she died from the wounds or from smoke inhalation. Nelson died of smoke inhalation the next day.Heller said there may have been signs that Camacho could be violent - he was very stressed, he was obsessive, Carter alleged he had been abusive - but said the man took care of his children."I'm still going through my mind wondering why I didn't think he would kill," Heller said.
- don_jordan@pbpost.comIllustration: PHOTO (B&W)

Phil Heller: 'I'm still going through my mind wondering why I didn't think he would kill.'

Copyright (c) 2006 Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.

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