It was a story that shocked Charlotte, even the country.
David Crespi, a Charlotte-area banker, called 911 the morning of January 20, 2006 and told the operator he had killed his two twin five-year-old daughters. The moment his wife Kim heard the news she said it wasn't him but drugs he'd been taking.
She knew he had in fact stabbed his daughters to death, he'd admitted to it.
But Kim believed from the second he confessed that her husband committed the crimes in a ‘medication induced psychosis' brought on by a cocktail of medications he'd recently been prescribed.
It was not a typical January day at the Crespi's Matthews home.
David Crespi was home from his job at Wachovia because of a serious bought of depression and sleeplessness. He'd been to see his therapist with Kim several times in the weeks prior.
But just seven days before the killings David was prescribed a new drug for his depression, Prozac.
He also had in his system both Lunesta and Ambien to help him sleep and according to Kim, Trazodone for anxiety.
She believes the combination of those drugs caused delusional thinking in David, even hallucinating. She maintains that ‘psychotic state' as she calls it, is why David killed the girls.
When I asked Kim Crespi if she forgave David for killing Sam and Tess, she said he didn't need her forgiveness. She says David, the man she loves dearly, didn't commit the crimes, she believes it was that cocktail of drugs that was responsible.
"We all loved each other the minute before it happened, why wouldn't we love each other now? I don't think people want to hear that," she told me.
David Crespi took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty; he's serving two life sentences.
In the chaos, as she describes the weeks after the murders, they did what lawyers told them to do. But Kim Crespi does not believe her husband should be in jail.
"The pharmaceutical companies are to blame. They know their drugs are capable of this and they've covered that up and that, to me is criminal," she claims.
In 2011 the Food and Drug Administration increased the ‘black box warnings' on SSRIs, or Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors to include stronger language about the possibility of increased suicidal thoughts for young adults during the initial use of the drug.
But Kim Crespi believes the warnings on SSRIs should be stronger. Kim also feels patients and family members should be more aware of the potential side effects of the drugs and what signs of trouble to look out for.
In Canada they've increased the warnings on SSRIs. The agency, that's the equivalent to the FDA here, recommended in 2004 SSRIs carry stronger warnings.
Here is an excerpt from the announcement. Note what Health Canada says about the potential for patients to do harm to themselves and others.
"OTTAWA - Health Canada is advising Canadians that all newer anti-depressant prescription drugs, known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Serotonin Noradrenalin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), now carry stronger warnings. These new warnings indicate that patients of all ages taking these drugs may experience behavioral and/or emotional changes that may put them at increased risk of self-harm or harm to others."
WEB EXTRA: Read the full announcement here
Kim Crespi has found support in a man named David Carmichael.
In 2004, Carmichael strangled his 11-year-old son Ian.
At the time he was taking Prozac. Carmichael had an old prescription for Paxil, and started medicating himself without the advice or supervision of his doctor.
He had only been on Paxil for a matter of days when he says he started having delusional thoughts about his son.
"I was psychotic. The issue was about what triggered the psychosis. These drugs, these SSRIs, can trigger acute psychosis and people should be aware of that," he told me in an interview via satellite from Canada.
David Carmichael was found ‘not criminally responsible' for Ian's killing.
He spent time in a mental hospital after trial. The drug he blames, Paxil, was not brought up during the case. But he believes it was the Paxil that created such horrific thoughts and actions against his precious young boy.
David has filed a civil suit against the makers of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline. It is in the discovery stages right now.
Back in Charlotte, Kim and her other kids have adjusted to what she calls the "new normal".
They visit David once a week, and talk to him via collect calls most days.
She's made it her mission to educate families about what she calls the power of prescription medications. She and a team are working on trying to get David a chance at freedom.
Kim and her family have a blog where they talk about the ‘tragedy' as she calls it, that unfolded in their Matthews home. She uses it as a way to share their experience and hear from others.
These are two extreme cases, and in neither case did a court rule the killings were from "medication induced violence".
In this country the latest numbers suggest one in ten people take anti-depressants. And for millions of Americans the drugs help them cope with the symptoms of depression.
I spoke with several mental health professionals, none of whom would go on camera for this story, but they said we must make it clear these cases are rare.
But most, including a pharmacist I spoke with, said people must be very aware of any changes in behavior when starting an SSRI.
I spoke with Bob Evans president of the Charlotte chapter of National of Alliance on Mental Illness.
He believes families should be very aware when a loved one is taking medication to treat mental illness. His organization provides support to families as well as patients. It's a non-profit organization that has several programs aimed at educating people on all aspects of mental illness.
They are a good resource if you or someone you know needs help.
They suggest, like most organizations, if you think you might do harm to yourself or someone else, call 911 right away.
They also have a long list of other local agencies that help neighbors coping with and understanding mental illness.
Find the information here: http://mhacentralcarolinas.org/countyandstateresources.cfm
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