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.
The New York Times 2021 summer reading pick
"Two years after the Menendez brothers famously killed their parents in Beverly Hills, a 22-year old man walked into a Florida police station and confessed to a similar crime. But the case of Brian Bechtold never made the cover of People magazine. Mikita Brottman has compiled an astonishing narrative of a man trapped in a netherworld, locked up in psych wards for 27 years after being declared 'not criminally responsible' for his parents' death. Bechtold grew up in a household that mixed abuse and mental illness, and his life story confronts the question: Can one be both a victim and a victimizer?" --Robert Rand, author of The Menendez Murders
"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
About our Speakers
Mikita Brottman, PhD, is an Oxford-educated scholar and psychoanalyst and the author of several previous books, including An Unexplained Death, The Great Grisby, and The Maximum Security Book Club. She is a professor of humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.