DANVILLE – Involuntary mental treatment is being sought for a Florida woman accused of slitting the throat of an elderly Montour County man after she used his bathroom.
The competency issue delayed Thursday’s preliminary hearing for Kathleen Susan Reed, 37, of Pembroke Pines, who is charged with homicide, theft and possession of an instrument of crime.
Reed is accused of killing W. John Ditzler, 83, on July 21 in his Bloom Road home, five miles east of Danville.
A court-ordered mental evaluation determined Reed would be unable to participate and assist in her own defense, her attorney Michael P. Dennehey stated in a court filing.
However, Dr. Richard E. Fischbein, a psychiatrist, believes her capacity or competency to stand trial could be restored with medications, therapy and placement in a state mental health forensic unit, Dennehey pointed out.
District Attorney Angela Mattis had revealed following Reed’s arrest that she had a history of mental health issues.
Dennehey buttressed that, claiming his client had responded well to psychiatric medications and treatments in Florida.
Reed told investigators she left her Florida home with her dog because she feared her mother was trying to poison her.
Reed, in a recorded interview with police, gave this account of the crime, the arrest affidavit states:
By the time she got to central Pennsylvania she was running low on money and was driving around the mountains.
She stopped near Ditzler’s home to stretch her legs, encountered him and, after he said he did not have a gas can to give her, she asked to use his bathroom.
A struggle began after she came out of the bathroom and Ditzler told her to take her dog and leave.
She stabbed him in the left shoulder with a knife that broke so she grabbed another one and stabbed and slashed him in the throat.
Reed, who weighs approximately 200 pounds, had a weight advantage on Ditzler who lived alone because his wife is in a long-term facility, Mattis said.
An autopsy determined Ditzler died from multiple sharp wounds to the head, neck and chest, Coroner Scott E. Lynn said. He had defensive wounds on his hands, he said.
Reed was taken into custody later that day at a Sheetz near Interstate 80 in the Wingate area of Centre County by state police responding to an erratic driving complaint. She was in Ditzler’s car, they said.
She has been jailed since without bail.