Edward Gingerich (Page 1 of 2)
Edward G. Gingerich
By David Lohr
An Amish man that was convicted of murder after he brutally beat his wife to death in front of his children. Found to be criminally insane he is now a free man but is he cured?
|The Old Order||The Brownhill Settlement||An unlikely Union||Marriage Bliss||Lost Identity||Enemy at the Gates|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Visions of Madness||English Solutions||Wild Eyes||The Healer||God Hates Ed||Brutal Madness|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|English Laws||Insanity Defense||Final Stages||English Justice||Bibliography||The Author|
The Old Order
On Tuesday March 18, 1993, a Pennsylvania Amish man named Edward Gingerich murdered his wife Katie as their children looked on in horror. The brutality of the crime shocked the Amish community and the nation. Who was Edward Gingerich? What was he? And how would the Amish community deal with his crime? This story is a true account of the only Amish man in history ever to be convicted of homicide.
Unfortunately, knowledge of the Amish and their religious practices come almost exclusively from the media. A journalist for the New York Post once wrote, "Everything I know about the Amish, I learned from the Harrison Ford movie, Witness." While this and similar films may be entertaining, they also tend to stereotype the Amish community and make it very difficult for the layman to separate fact from fiction.
In reality, the Amish are a religious group who live in settlements in 22 states and Ontario, Canada. The Amish stress humility, family, community, self-sufficiency, uniformity and separation. They were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of Reformation. The Anabaptists believed that only adults who had confessed their faith should be baptized, and that they should remain separate from the larger society. Both Catholics and Protestants put many early Anabaptists to death, considering them heretics. The remaining groups quickly fled to Switzerland and Germany to escape religious persecution. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.
A young Catholic priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement in 1536. His writings united many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites." A Swiss bishop named Jacob Ammon broke from the Mennonite church in 1693. His followers were called the "Amish." Although the two groups split, the Amish and Mennonite churches continued to share many of the same beliefs. They differ only in matters of dress, language, form of worship, interpretation of the Bible, and technology. The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Pennsylvania during the late 1730s.
Modern day Amish differ very little from their predecessors. Old Order groups, such as the one Ed Gingerich belonged to, all drive horses and buggies rather than cars, do not have electricity, and send their children to private one-room schoolhouses. Children only attend school through the eighth grade. After that, they work on their family's farm or business until they marry.
Old Order Amish women and girls wear modest dresses made from solid-colored fabric with long sleeves and a full skirt. These dresses are covered with an apron and are fastened with straight pins or snaps. They never cut their hair, which they wear in a bun on the back of the head. On their heads they wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are single. Men and boys wear dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats, broad trousers, suspenders, solid-colored shirts, black socks and shoes, and black or straw broad-brimmed hats. Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons, but their suit coats fasten with hooks and eyes. The Amish feel these distinctive clothes encourage humility and separation from the world. Amish men do not have mustaches, but they grow beards after they marry. There is no such thing as an Amish divorce, and until 1993, there had never been an Amish murderer.
The Brownhill Settlement
The Amish, like everyone else, move because they are hoping for something better. During the spring of 1983, Dannie and Mary Gingerich, along with eight sons and daughters, left their home in Norwich, Ontario, and moved to a remote area of Pennsylvania. Their new home was a 150-acre farm located in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, 30 miles south of the city of Erie. The closest town, Mill Village, consisted of nothing more than a few houses and a handful of quaint buildings. The Gingerich family was the first of seven Amish clans to make the journey to what would later become know as the Brownhill settlement.
|Dannie and Mary Gingerich's home (David Lohr)|
Edward D. Gingerich, son of Dannie and Mary Gingerich, was just 18 years old during the relocation. Ed was nothing like his father who basically defined the term Old Order Amish. Ed was exactly the opposite; considered lazy, moody and short-tempered by those who knew him well. Ed had completed his eight grades of Amish education1 while living in Ontario, Canada.
By June of 1985, the Brownhill settlement had grown to 13 families, with a total population of 93. Dannie Gingerich had built a diesel-powered sawmill2 on the corner of Frisbeetown Road and Ed was eager to learn the mechanics of its operation. It was not long before Ed began impressing fellow Amish men with his natural mechanical knowledge and skill. Ed soon befriended a local "Englishman," Richard Zimmer. The Amish referred to their non-Amish neighbors as "English" or "Englishmen." Ed would often times avoid church by faking illness and spend his time at Zimmer's nearby farm. As their friendship grew, Ed began to confide in Zimmer that he did not understand the Amish way of life, and disliked doing everything the "hard way." He also confided that he had been thinking about leaving the Amish faith, but that he was not exactly sure how to go about it. Ed felt trapped in an entanglement of rules by which he no longer wanted to live.
- The Amish feel that their children do not need more formal education than eight grades. Although they pay school taxes, the Amish have fought to keep their children out of public schools. In 1972, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark unanimous decision, which exempted the Old Order Amish and related groups from state compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth grade.
- The Amish are allowed to use gas-powered machinery to a certain extent, however the use of tractors, cars and power-driven machinery is prohibited. Bottled gas is used to operate water heaters, stoves and refrigerators. Gas-pressured lanterns and lamps can be used to light homes, barns and shops. This is acceptable because it is self-reliance on a natural Godly source of power, as opposed to man-made electricity.
An Unlikely Union
During the fall of 1985, Ed met 21-year-old Katie Shetler, the sister of a co-worker and niece of the clan's Bishop. Katie was an energetic, hard working young woman who exemplified what it meant to be Old Order Amish. Her father, Levi, was one of the most respected elders in the community, while her mother, Emma, worked hard to keep the family running smoothly and had raised five loving children.
Edward D. Gingerich
Ed and Katie, while an unlikely pair, dated off and on for approximately a year before Ed started feeling pressure from the elders. In his own family, he was next in line to be married and for Katie, her fear of being passed over in marriage was intense. She was the last of her siblings who had not yet wed. The weight on Ed's shoulders was heavy. If he did not marry Katie, the community would most certainly shun him. He could either take his chances in the English world or marry Katie and continue living a lie. As appealing as the English world was, Ed decided it was not time to gamble, so he proposed to Katie.
An Amish couple must take several steps before they may marry. Proper certification of membership must be requested from the church. All couples that plan to marry are "published" and the deacon is responsible for announcing the names of the girls and the men they plan to marry. The fathers then announce the date and time of the wedding and invite the members to attend. The betrothed couple does not attend the church service on the Sunday they are "published." Instead, the young woman prepares a meal for her fiancé and they enjoy dinner alone at her home. When the girl's family returns from church, the daughter formally introduces her fiancé to her parents. Unlike English engagements, the future groom does not give her a diamond. He may give her china or a clock.
After being published, the young people have just a few days before the ceremony. The girl also helps her mother prepare for the wedding and feast, which takes place in her parents' home. During this time, the future husband keeps busy extending personal invitations to members of his church district.
On December 2, 1986, a rainy winter's day, Ed married Katie. Friends and family from Canada, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York attended the daylong ceremony. Katie's uncle, Bishop Rudy Shetler, presided over the wedding. Katie wore a dark blue dress during the ceremony. Blue is the typical color chosen for weddings by young Amish women. An Amish bride's wedding attire is always new. She usually makes her own dress and also those of her attendants, known as "newehockers," (Pennsylvania Dutch for sidesitters). Katie's dress was plain cut, mid-calf length and unadorned -- there was no fancy trim, lace or train. Unlike English brides who normally only wear their bridal dress once, an Amish bride's wedding dress will become her Sunday church attire after she is married. She will also typically be buried in the same dress when she dies. Instead of a veil, Katie wore a black prayer covering to differentiate from her daily white cap.
By strict Amish tradition, no one in the bridal party carried flowers. Ed and his newehockers wore black suits. All coats and vests were fastened with hooks and eyes, not buttons. Their shirts were white, and shoes and stockings were black. Ed also wore high-topped black shoes, and a black hat with a three-and-a-half-inch brim. There was no best man or maid of honor; all newehockers are of equal importance. The three-hour long service began with the congregation singing hymns, (without instrumental accompaniment), while the minister counseled Ed and Katie privately. After Bishop Rudy and the young couple returned to the room, a prayer, Scripture reading and long sermon began. Following the sermon, the Bishop asked Katie and Ed to step forward from their seat with the rest of the congregation. Then he questioned them about their marriage to be, which was similar to English wedding vows. The Bishop then blessed the couple and the fathers of the couple gave testimony about marriage to the congregation. A final prayer and the ceremony drew to a close.
Following the wedding ceremony, festivities began. The women served dinner while the men set up tables in a U-shape around the walls. A corner of the table was reserved for Ed, Katie and the bridal party. This is an honored place called the "Eck," meaning corner. The tables were laden with the "roast," (roast chicken with bread stuffing), mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed celery, coleslaw, applesauce, cherry pie, donuts, fruit salad, tapioca pudding and bread, butter and jelly.
Katie sat on Ed's left, in the corner, (the same way they will sit as man and wife in their buggy). The single women sat on the same side as Katie and the single men on the same side as Ed. The immediate family members sat at a long table in the kitchen, with both fathers at the head. Following dinner, the afternoon was spent visiting and playing games.
The newlywed's first night together is always spent at the bride's home because they must get up early the next day to help clean the house. In Ed and Katie's case, they would have to live in her parents' basement until spring, when a home could be constructed.
Their honeymoon was spent visiting all their new relatives on the weekends throughout the winter.
In March of 1987, Ed's family constructed a one-story house for Katie and Ed. The home was intended to be a temporary residence until Katie would begin to bear children. This did not take long and, shortly after moving into their new home, Katie became pregnant. Ed was not exactly pleased with the news, however he did express hope that the child would be a boy.
On September 20, 1987, a neighbor transported Ed and Katie to a birthing clinic1 in the tiny village of Little Cooley. Following a brief labor, Katie gave birth to a seven-pound baby boy. The child was named Dannie E. after Ed's father. Katie remained at the clinic overnight and returned home with the child the following morning. Katie's younger sisters stayed with her for the first few weeks to help care for Ed and the child.
It did not take long for Ed to find out how much work being a father entailed. He disliked the demands that accompanied a new born and began spending less and less time at home. Even though the mill closed at five, Ed would seldom come home before 11 at night.
During the summer of 1988, Ed constructed a machine shop next to the sawmill and spent most of the summer buying motors and mechanical parts. Katie soon began to wonder if there was something wrong with her husband. Ed seldom spoke to her, ignored their child, and came and went as he pleased. Regardless of his behavior, Amish wives stick by their husbands and Katie wasn't about to give up.
By July of 1988, changes in Ed's behavior became even more apparent. He seldom ate, began loosing weight, and complained of recurrent dizzy spells. Ed began coming home in the afternoons and would spend hours behind their closed bedroom door sleeping. Katie began to wonder if Ed was seriously ill and was concerned about his depressed and exhausted appearance. Many elders felt that Ed was simply faking illness to get out of work and dismissed the possibility of an illness, albeit mental or physical.
In August of 1988, Katie was nearing her wits' end with Ed, and his apparent problems. Something had to be done and Ed desperately needed help. Katie's parents suggested a medical doctor in a nearby town, however Katie was not interested1; she had already made an appointment with Dr. Merritt W. Terrell, a chiropractor located just 15 miles south in the town of Cambridge Springs.
Dr. Merritt W. Terrell's office was nothing more than a tiny one-story house, marked only with a small sign that read 'Drugless Therapy.' While Doc Terrell was deemed a fast-talking folk doctor by most English, he was considered a healer by the Amish and treated hundreds of Amish patients from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ontario. At first glance, Doc Terrell appeared to be a 'Barnum and Bailey' leftover to many that met him. The 66-year-old doctor stood 5 feet 5 in his cowboy boots, sported close-cropped gray hair on top of his square head, had piercing blue eyes, and often times wore a large cowboy hat. He never wore a coat or tie and was undistinguishable from his patients at first glance. The Amish appreciated Doc Terrell's simple, nonscientific methods, and were grateful that he did not subject them to x-rays, blood tests, or drugs as most English doctors do2.
Ed and Katie entered Doc Terrell's office through what had at one time been the front door to a residence. The former living room had been converted into a waiting room and a receptionist, behind a tiny desk in what used to be a hallway, greeted them as they entered. The receptionist handed Ed a slip of paper, on which he was instructed to write his name, date of birth, address, and symptoms. After a brief wait, Ed was directed down a hallway to an examination room. The only piece of furniture in the room was a large leather lounge chair, where Ed was instructed to sit. As Ed sat down in the chair, Doc Terrell appeared from behind a curtain and fed Ed's slip of paper into a small instrument the size of a fax machine. The machine was somehow supposed to determine Ed's illness by scanning his handwriting. After the paper was fed through the machine, a series of numbers and codes were displayed, which Doc Terrell interpreted for diagnosis and treatment. In Ed's case the machine revealed that he needed a toe pulling and a foot rub. Following the treatment, Ed walked back into the reception area where he paid $25 for his visit, was given a jar of blackstrap molasses for purifying his blood, and sent on his way-- supposedly cured.
- Most Amish use either a local birthing clinic-- built and run by and for the Amish, or local hospitals. Some do however still have midwives who deliver at home.
- While most Amish groups do not oppose modern medicine, their readiness to seek health services varies from family to family. Nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, etc. They do believe, however, that good health, both physical and mental, is a gift from God, and medical doctors are a last resort.
As the months passed by, Katie's hopes of a quick cure for Ed diminished. Follow-up visits with Doc Terrell in August, September, and December, had little effect. Doc's drugless cures did not seem to be helping and Ed appeared to be getting worse.
On March 21, 1989, just four days after her 25th birthday, Katie gave birth to another boy. The child was named Enos, after one of Katie's younger brothers. Ed was neither upset nor overjoyed by the birth-- he simply did not care. Family members continued to keep their low opinions of Ed to themselves. Bishop Shetler, who considered Ed a bad apple, decided to keep a close eye on him.
Mill Village Fire Department
Ed's problems persisted and were only compounded when tragedy befell the clan on the night of December 3, 1989. An English farmer, while driving west on Sturgis Road, saw flames shooting into the sky as he approached the Frisbeetown intersection. As the farmer drew closer, he discovered that the blaze was originating from the Gingerich's sawmill. By the time fire trucks arrived at the scene, it was too late. Ed, Katie, and several family members stood by and watched as the mill burned to the ground. It was later determined that an unmonitored fire in a wood stove had gotten out of control and caused the blaze. Not only did the fire take the mill, but it also took Ed's refuge, purpose, and identity. His machine shop lost its justification and he was left feeling as though he had no future.
Because the Amish do not believe in insurance, the mill was a total loss. Nonetheless, they do band together within their communities and see that anyone who needs financial help is not turned away. Hence, Ed made it his mission to see to it that another mill was erected in place of the old one. He wanted to design it from top to bottom and build it on a four-acre plot his father had given him on Sturgis Road. Ed's plans included modernizing the mill to increase production and profit. However, before proceeding with his plans, Ed had to receive permission from Bishop Shetler.
The idea of a new mill did not bother the bishop and Ed was given permission to build, as long as he agreed to only hire Amish workers, and not to make the mill too modern. Ed's obsession with modern mechanics was displeasing to the bishop and he strictly advised that the new mill adhere to the Ordnung1. Ed disliked the fact that he was restricted in how he constructed his mill; however the excitement of regaining his identity outweighed his anger for the time being.
As plans for the new mill fell into place, Katie discovered that she was once again pregnant. Ed was anything but pleased with the news. The thought of another child was not something he relished.
On March 13, 1990, four days before her 26th birthday, Katie gave birth to a seven-pound girl. The child was named Mary after Ed's mother. Ed did not pay any attention to Katie or their newborn; he was too busy planning construction of the new mill, something he seemingly cared about more than anything.
Construction of the mill began in April of 1990. The building took little time to erect, and in the end measured an impressive 150 feet long and 25 feet wide. Ed showed off his knowledge by designing a fully automated plant, which impressed Amish and English alike. Diesel-powered conveyor belts delivered logs through a 5-foot saw blade, and saw dust was automatically hauled out on a specially-designed carrier belt. Ed was pleased with his work and his machine shop once again had a purpose.
|The sawmill (David Lohr)|
The everyday workings of the new mill were handed over to Noah Stutzman, a hard working young man who was new to the Brownhill settlement. Ed wanted the freedom to come and go as he pleased, and by hiring Noah he would have more time to devote to his machine shop.
Problems between Ed and Katie continued to grow. Ed refused to have sex with Katie for fear of getting her pregnant and he began staying out late again, continuously ignoring Katie and the children. Whenever Ed spoke to Katie, he would frighten her with talk of modernization or leaving the Amish lifestyle. Katie feared that if Bishop Shetler learned that Ed thought such things, they would be excommunicated2 for good.
- Donald B. Kraybill, in his book, "The Riddle of Amish Culture", writes: 'The Amish blueprint for expected behavior, called the Ordnung, regulates private, public, and ceremonial life. Ordnung does not translate readily into English. Sometimes rendered as 'ordnance' or 'discipline', the Ordnung is best thought of as an ordering of the whole way of life . . . a code of conduct, which the church maintains by tradition rather than by systematic or explicit rules. Rather than a packet or rules to memorize, the Ordnung is the "understood" behavior by which the Amish are expected to live. In the same way that the rules of grammar are learned by children, so the Ordnung, the grammar of order, is learned by Amish youth. The Ordnung evolved gradually over the decades as the church sought to strike a delicate balance between tradition and change. Specific details of the Ordnung vary across church districts and settlements."
- Excommunicated-- meaning eternally damned, or banned, in the eyes of the Amish.
Enemy At the Gates
An Amish bishop's number one enemy is a Christian evangelist. The Amish consider these "born-again" Christians to be religious fanatics. Christians believe that faith alone guarantees a place in heaven, while Amish believe that sinners must be held accountable and getting into heaven requires not just faith, but hard work. Throughout Amish history, Christian missionaries have felt it their duty to spread their version of God's word to the Amish, and on several occasions managed to penetrate and converted entire Amish families.
In August of 1990, a young Englishman named David Lindsey visited Ed's sawmill in hopes of selling some logs. David was quite impressed with the mill and asked Ed for a guided tour. Ed was flattered by the Englishman's interest and was more than happy to show him around. Following the tour, David asked Ed if he could drop by the following week to talk.
Ed replied, "Sure, anytime."
David went on to say, "I'd like to talk to you about something that changed my life...it's about Jesus; accepting him as your personal Lord and Savior."
Ed did not appear too enthusiastic with David's request, however he did agree to meet with him on his next visit to the mill.
David Lindsey was a "born-again" Christian, and a man on a mission. He was convinced that his calling was to rescue the Amish of the Brownhill settlement from what he referred to as the "bishop's cult." David felt that Amish people would be subjected to eternal damnation unless someone showed them the way to salvation with Jesus Christ. Upon talking to Ed, David decided that Ed would be the key to formulating a successful Brownhill crusade. David concluded that once Ed was successfully converted, others would be sure to follow.
A few days after their initial meeting, David returned to Ed's mill armed with his Bible. Ed saw him drive up, and walked over to greet him. David rolled down his window and asked Ed to join him in the car and talk for a while. As soon as Ed sat down in the car, David began preaching to Ed about the Christian faith and the error of the bishop's ways. The end of the meeting left Ed confused and uncertain of his current faith.
Following their second meeting, David Lindsey became a regular visitor to Ed's sawmill. It was not uncommon to see Ed talking to English customers, so she had no reason to suspect that Ed was discussing religion with David Lindsey.
In early October 1990, Ed began complaining of earaches and skin rashes. He had also twisted his ankle and was limping. Katie made another appointment with Doc Terrell. During the visit, Doc Terrell massaged Ed's ankle, and prescribed a jar of blackstrap molasses for his other ailments.
For the next year, Ed divided his time between the sawmill and machine shop. David Lindsey also visited him on a regular basis for religious discussions.
In September of 1991, Ed's father began construction of a new home for Ed and Katie next to the sawmill. Ed wanted nothing to do with the work and left his father and the sawmill crew to build the two-story, four-bedroom home. Bishop Shetler was angry that Ed was not helping to build his family's home. Never before had an able-bodied Amish man not helped in the construction of his own home. Regardless of Ed's laziness, the house was completed by November, and occupied by Ed and Katie almost immediately.
Ed and Katie Gingerich's home
Over the next few months, Ed's health seemed to spiral downward. He rarely ate and constantly complained of dizziness, itchy skin, earaches and back pain. Katie had sent away for a small quantity of herbs, in hopes that they would help Ed, and or possibly cure him. Regardless of her intentions, Ed refused to take the herbal medicines out of fear that Katie was trying to poison him.
Ed spent the morning of March 17, 1992, in his machine shop. He had no idea that it was Katie's 28th birthday, and most likely would not have cared. He was busy degreasing a diesel engine with a solvent called Gunk. According to the warnings on the can, the solvent was to be used only if significantly diluted and in a well-ventilated area. Obviously ignoring the warnings, Ed was applying the solvent undiluted and the shop was closed up tight. He remained in the shop until four in the afternoon before finally stepped outside. The chilling fresh air overwhelmed him and he nearly fell down as he stumbled to the house. Ed said very little to Katie as he walked inside, and went straight to the bedroom where he collapsed onto the bed. His brain felt as though it was on fire and his hands were swollen and stiff.
The following morning, Ed awoke feeling groggy and suffered from a headache. He poured a cup of coffee and headed back out to the machine shop. Even though the small building still reeked of Gunk, Ed did nothing to air it out, and went back to work on the engine. Ed remained in the machine shop for nearly seven hours before finally stumbling outside. He had a pounding pain between his eyes and his limbs felt stiff as though they were not receiving any blood.
Later that evening as Katie and the children sat down to eat, David Lindsey knocked at the door looking for Ed. Upon hearing his English friend's voice, Ed came downstairs. David had stopped by to purchase a saw blade Ed had previously agreed to sell, and the two men went outside to load it into David's truck. David did not have much time for idle conversation, because he was on the way to his regular Wednesday night prayer meeting. After the two men loaded the saw blade, Ed asked David to look at some pigs he had recently purchased. David did not really care to see the pigs, however he sensed that his Amish friend did not wanted to talk, and agreed to look at them. As the two men gawked at Ed's new pigs, Ed began talking about the motor he was repairing and asked David took look it over. David agreed and followed Ed into the machine shop. Immediately struck by the foul smell of the degreaser as they stepped inside, David asked Ed about the odor. Ed explained that he had been using Gunk to clean the engine. David chastised Ed for failing to properly ventilate the shop and then slowly worked the conversation around to religion once again.
David and Ed spent the entire evening in the shop talking. When the two men finally exited the building, they were both dizzy and physically ill. Nonetheless, David felt that he had made a great deal of progress with Ed, and all doubts of Ed resisting eventual conversion were gone from his mind.
Visions of Madness
The children were fast asleep as Ed walked in the door.
Katie stared quizzically at Ed and said, "You look funny, what's wrong?"
"I'm going to bed; I'm dizzy and my head hurts," Ed replied as he made his way to the bedroom.
As dusk turned to dawn, Ed leaped out of bed and shook Katie awake. As Katie came to, she could hear Ed talking to himself in a strange voice.
"Ed, what are you doing?" she demanded.
"I've had a vision...a vision from God!
"What do you mean?" Katie asked.
"I tried to kill the older leader but he would not die. I couldn't conquer him!"
Katie had no idea what Ed was talking about. "What leader?" she asked.
"Bishop Shetler! I've got to kill the older leader to make room for the new religion. I couldn't do it because he wouldn't die! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't kill him...the devil wants my soul, he's fighting Jesus for my soul." Ed replied.
After hearing her husband ramble incoherently all morning, Katie arranged another trip to Doc Terrell's. By 2:30 that afternoon, Ed was sitting in Doc Terrell's office listing his symptoms on a piece of paper, "no appetite, forgetful" and "can't sleep," Ed scrawled on the paper. His treatment resulted in a shoulder rub, right-foot manipulation, and another jar of blackstrap molasses.
Following Ed's latest treatment, he showed absolutely no improvement and shocked the entire community the following night. It was church night at Katie's parents' house. Everyone was present, including Bishop Shetler. That night, without warning, Ed told the entire congregation that an English friend and spiritual advisor had opened his eyes to God and Jesus Christ. Katie was horrified as Ed spoke.
"If I leave the Amish church, I can be saved...it's the only way...he has shown me passages in the Bible, in the Book of John...that says that faith alone is enough," Ed announced before a shocked and dismayed audience.
Bishop Shetler held his tongue momentarily before replying to Ed's charges. "I know of these men," he said, referring to Ed's spiritual advisor. "They are devil's soldiers." Speaking to Ed, Bishop Shetler asked, "Are you joining with these people?"
"Why are my own people against me?" Ed responded in an annoyed tone.
"No one is against you!" Katie exclaimed.
Ed, ignoring Katie, announced, "I've had a vision..."
"Don't tell them about your dream!" Katie yelled.
"The leader of the new church will conquer the old leader. I tried but I couldn't kill him no matter what I did. I kept trying for the new religion, but couldn't."
Bishop Shetler stood up from his chair as Katie said, "He just had a dream...it was just a dream!"
"No," Ed proclaimed, "It's a vision, a prophecy!"
That was it, Bishop Shetler could hear no more. He abruptly grabbed his coat and hat and walked out the door. Everyone else took their cue and followed him. Katie stood humiliated and in tears as her worst fears became sudden reality.
On the morning of March 23, 1992, Ed refused to get out of bed. He was lying on his back spitting at the ceiling, totally ignoring Katie.
"Ed, please stop doing that and get up!" Katie pleaded.
Ed spat into the air, watched his phlegm hang from the ceiling, and asked, "What does that say? What is that saying to me? What is it saying?"
Katie was extremely disturbed by this new behavior and immediately summoned Bishop Shetler.
Ed was still lying on his back spitting and talking to himself when Bishop Shetler arrived.
"Tell us, Ed, why you are spitting?" the bishop enquired.
"I think my heart is tearing loose. It's coming off, I can feel it!" Ed blurted.
Bishop Shetler immediately sent word to the elders and to Ed's family, "Ed has been seized by the devil," and that their presence was required at once, to help pray against Satan. As Ed's family and the elders entered his room, Ed began flailing about, and had to be restrained.
"Maybe we should take him to a doctor," Ed's mother offered.
"This man is not sick. He has been taken over by Satan. The only thing that can save him is prayer." The bishop explained.
Everyone present was instructed by the bishop to form a circle around Ed and pray for God to drive the devil out of him.
Ed soon sat up in his bed and the prayers stopped. Ed was helped to his feet and taken out to a front room and placed on a cot, where he fell asleep. Hours passed and Bishop Shetler was certain God had defeated Satan and freed Ed's soul. Nonetheless, the victory was short lived. Ed awoke abruptly, flung himself onto the floor, and began howling as he ran around the room on all fours.
Those present began to consider the possibility that Ed was in fact insane and decided it was time for Ed to see a medical doctor. A call was placed from an English neighbor's house and a local doctor was soon in route. Dr. Craig Caldwell had been known to treat Amish patients and was of a rare breed, a doctor that still made house calls.
"How are you doing?" the doctor asked.
"Check to see if my hearts still there. I think it jumped to the right side." Ed replied.
The doctor briefly examined Ed with a stethoscope, as Ed began rambling on about the bishop and Jesus Christ. Katie handed Dr. Caldwell a jar of Doc Terrell's blackstrap molasses and asked, "Would this be helpful?" The doctor looked over the jar and read the label under the light of a kerosene lamp. "I don't think so," he replied. The doctor then wrote Ed a prescription for tranquilizers. "Call me if Ed isn't feeling better," he said as he walked out. Ed crawled into bed a short time later and cried himself to sleep.
The morning of March 24, 1992, started out just as the day before. Ed was once again lying in bed, spitting at the ceiling, and mumbling to himself. Katie had had enough. They obviously could not help Ed on their own. Katie sent Ed's brother over to an English neighbor to call 911.
Katie was outside on the steps as the Mill Village Volunteer Fire Department's ambulance pulled up in front of the house. Three volunteers approached Katie carrying a medical bag and ambulance cot. "My husband has had a nervous breakdown. He's in the house. Be careful; he's acting wild." Katie explained.
As the paramedics entered the home, Ed began screaming, "Don't kill me!" He stood up and ran for the door, however he was quickly tackled by his brothers and restrained. Ed finally stopped fighting and stood up. He looked over at Katie as he made his way to the door and smiled mockingly. Without warning, Katie shocked everyone present by punching Ed in the face so hard that he was knocked off his feet and onto his back. The paramedics stood by in disbelief. When Ed finally stood up, it took seven men to restrain him and strap him to the ambulance cot. Before leaving, the paramedics informed Katie that they were taking Ed to a hospital in Erie and that she should arrange transportation and meet them there. An English neighbor agreed to take Katie and Ed's family and they were soon on their way.
The paramedics had radioed in the situation while in route and a doctor and two hospital security guards greeted them at the entrance to Hamot Medical Center's emergency room. Ed appeared to be calm and cooperative as he was brought out of the ambulance. The doctor was disturbed by the restraints holding him to the cot and told the paramedics to remove them and let the patient walk in on his own.
Ed was being led to an examination room as Katie and Ed's family arrived. After a brief wait, a doctor led Katie into the examination room with Ed and inquired as to why her husband had been brought to the hospital. Katie explained Ed's behavior and recent mental state. She felt that he was having some type of nervous breakdown. The doctor seemed confused by Katie's explanation, the patient that sat before him appeared to be perfectly sane.
"Could he have been joking...fooling around?"
"He was not joking," Katie replied.
"Perhaps you people overreacted," the doctor said. "Putting a man in a mental ward is a big decision...I have other patients," he said. "I'll come back soon and give Ed a more thorough examination."
Katie was at a loss for words, Ed had turned on his charm for the doctor and now they probably thought that Katie was the one with problems.
As soon as the doctor left the room, Ed looked directly at Katie with stone cold eyes. "What are you trying to do, kill me?" Ed growled. "You are trying to get rid of me...I know why...you and my brother are against me. I know about you and my brother." Ed said. Katie walked out of the room to get the doctor. She wanted him to see how Ed was acting. When Katie and the doctor returned, Ed was lying on his back spitting at the ceiling and talking to himself. He was no longer playing the innocent victim.
Ed was soon being led down the hall in a wheelchair to the hospital's mental ward. Once they reached Ed's temporary home, a white, windowless room, with a plastic covered mattress, Ed began to fight. It took four men to hold him down so that the doctor could give him a tranquilizer shot. Within seconds Ed went limp and the door slammed behind him.
On March 25, 1992, Ed was moved to a private room. Drugged up on anti-psychotic and antidepressant medications, doctors considered him no longer violent. That afternoon Katie and Ed's family visited with Ed. He appeared to be calm and polite. Katie was beginning to wonder if the English might have actually cured him. He was just like his old self, albeit a little drowsy.
News of Ed's hospitalization did not take long to reach David Lindsey. He felt that the Gunk fumes had most likely affected Ed and that the Amish simply overreacted. On March 26, David drove to Erie and visited Ed in the hospital. Ed appeared fine and David felt that his initial Gunk theory was in fact correct after all. David Lindsey took the opportunity to once again fill Ed's head with thoughts of religion and the "evil" bishop.
Less than two weeks after his admission, Ed was released from the hospital on April 3. The Amish do not believe in medical insurance1, hence Ed walked out $8,000 lighter, with prescriptions such as Pamelor and Navane filling his pockets. Outpatient sessions were scheduled with a local psychiatrist and to everyone except Ed, the future was beginning to look brighter.
For the first few weeks after his release from the mental ward, Ed followed up with his outpatient sessions and his doctors experimented with various combinations of medicines. Ed had complained the medicines were draining his energy and leaving him with mouth sores, so his new psychiatrist prescribed Symmetrel and Pestoril in place of them. The new drugs did not seem to change anything and Ed was growing tired of being an English guinea pig. Katie was beginning to have own reservations and was starting to wonder if maybe they should have stuck with Doc Terrell after all.
On April 28, Ed failed to show up at his fourth psychiatrist appointment and stopped taking his prescribed medicine. Despite warnings that he would most likely relapse without his medication, Katie supported her husband's decision. Within days, he slowly began to sink back into depression and psychosis. On numerous occasions, Katie would find him pulling out his hair, "It's on fire!" he'd yell.
As the months wore on, Ed's condition rapidly deteriorated. He would often times claim to hear Satan's voice in his head. "Kill her," Satan would tell him. "Kill her to save yourself." Ed rarely slept and would scratch his dry skin until it bled.
In May, Ed told Katie that he had decided to end the torture by shooting himself. Katie had never considered the prospect that Ed might commit suicide, so she gathered up all of Ed's hunting rifles and hid them in the buggy shed. Later that night, Ed went berserk; he smashed his fist through a window and climbed out onto the porch roof threatening to jump and kill himself. This, of course, would have been no easy task, considering he was only 10 feet off the ground. Katie's parents were coming up the driveway and Ed was in no mood to talk, he jumped off the roof and hit the ground running. Ed's father and brother had arrived at the scene and were soon in their buggy chasing Ed down the road. The chase did not last long and Ed passed out just a hundred yards down the road. His father and brother loaded his limp body into the buggy and took him home.
Following Ed's latest escapades, he was taken to Doc Terrell's for another joint manipulation and jar of blackstrap molasses.
- Amish do not have hospitalization insurance, but they normally band together to help pay medical expenses for anyone of their group who needs financial aid. A designated leader in the Amish community is normally given responsibility for a mutual aid fund.
On May 5, 1992, Ed awoke in frenzy. He smashed out another window and ran around the house like a mad man, chanting religious verses to himself. Katie's mother arrived just before noon, and begged her daughter to get Ed some "real" help. Katie was quickly becoming unglued; she had tried everything and nothing seemed to work. She did not want to send Ed back to Hamot, but she finally relented when her mother suggested another hospital, Jones Memorial Health Center in Jamestown, New York.
By 4 o'clock, everyone except Ed knew that an English man was on his way to transport them to the hospital in Jamestown. Ed's father knew that it was not going to be easy to get Ed's cooperation, so as Ed lay sleeping on a cot, Mr. Gingerich and two of Ed's brothers, carefully tied Ed's arms and legs together. Ed awoke just as the bindings began to tighten and started screaming like a mad man. Minutes later, the men were dragging a wild, hogtied Amish man out the door and placing him in the English man's van.
It took an hour and a half for them to reach the hospital. Luckily Ed had drifted to sleep a short time after they started out, and was no longer fighting the bindings that held him. As the men exited the van, Ed awoke. He said nothing as the men unloaded him and placed him on the ground next to the van. Katie and Ed's father went inside and returned 20 minutes later with two men in white coats. The men were upset that Ed was lying on the ground hogtied and ordered him untied. Ed's brothers untied the ropes, helped Ed to his feet and walked him into the hospital.
Once inside, Ed was escorted to an examination room. As they made their way to the room, Ed dropped to the ground and began running around the waiting area on all fours. He knocked over an IV stand, chairs, tables with glass jars, and pans full of utensils, before the men in white coats were able to subdue him. They lifted him onto an examination table and instructed him to calm down. Within minutes Ed was fast asleep and left in the room by himself.
Ed had slept for almost a half-hour before waking suddenly. He jumped off the table and began ripping medical appliances and cabinets off the walls. The commotion alerted the staff, however by the time they got to Ed, the room was littered with glass, loose wires and hospital supplies. Ed was forced onto the examination table and held down as a psychiatrist administered 200 milligrams of the antipsychotic drug Mellaril.
"What seems to be the problem?" the doctor asked.
"I've got a bad case of liver cancer...I saw a light so bright I thought I was in hell. Do you know my brother?
"When my brother blew into Katie's cunt, I saw an angel fly out of her mouth."
The doctor was at a loss for words after hearing Ed's last statement. Ed was given another injection, two milligrams of Ativan, a tranquilizer, and was ushered off into a small padded room. .
Ed was denied visitors his first week at the hospital. He was routinely administered Lithium, Cogentin, and Mellaril, and subjected to numerous mental health and group therapy sessions. By the eighth day, he was allowed to see his family, and appeared to be happy as he spoke with them. Nonetheless, everyone was shocked when they learned that he was going to be released in two days. Katie was mystified. She could not believe that the doctors were going to let Ed walk out of the hospital in such a short period of time.
On May 15, 1992, Ed walked out of Jones Memorial Health Center a free man. Once again, he had several prescriptions to fill and new outpatient appointments to attend.
Just four days after his release from the hospital, Ed once again stopped taking his medication and Katie again supported his decision. She felt that the medicine was not helping and that the English hospitals had failed them once again.
In June of 1992, David Lindsey stopped by for another visit with Ed. It had been awhile since he saw his Amish friend and he was anxious to continue discussing religion with him. During the visit, David preached to Ed about redemption and urged him to free himself of the bishop and turn to Jesus for salvation.
Throughout the remainder of the summer, Ed managed to behave himself, although he was obviously depressed in the eyes of those who knew him. Katie dragged Ed to Doc Terrell's office on numerous occasions. She had lost all faith in English doctors and felt that doc was Ed's only hope at living a normal life.
Winter seemed to approach quickly for the Gingerich clan and the harsh cold kept them cooped up inside. Ed's health had not improved and his refusal to take Doc Terrell's blackstrap molasses continued to anger Katie. Ed's father felt his son was a ticking time bomb and desperately wanted Ed and Katie to give "modern medicine" another chance.
On March 16, 1993, following a long talk with his father, Ed agreed to see another English doctor as long as they promised he would not be put back in the hospital. That evening, Ed's father arranged a meeting with Ed's brothers to discuss what they should do. The name Jacob Troyer was soon brought up by Ed's brother Danny. Troyer was a 46-year-old Amish man from Smicksburgh settlement near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and rumored to be a special healer. Ed's father was a little reluctant, however after some prodding by his sons, he figured it would not hurt to give it a try.
The following day, March 17, 1993, Katie's 29th birthday, an English driver arrived at Ed's house to take them on their 100-mile journey to the Smicksburgh settlement. The roads were bad and the trip was a long one. Ed sat in the back with Katie groaning, "This disease is very bad."
By the time they arrived at Troyer's house, Ed had gotten much worse. The rushed to Troyer's door. "My husband is sick...this is an emergency," Katie said as Troyer invited them in. As soon as they stepped inside, Ed dropped to his knees and began crawling around on the floor. "This is nice," Ed said, as he admired the floor. Troyer's young son was making his way upstairs when Ed suddenly ran over to him. "Do I look normal?" he yelled at the boy. "Can you tell there is something wrong with me?" The boy ran upstairs, obviously fearful of Ed's erratic behavior. Troyer turned to Katie and said, "Take this man to a hospital; he needs to be put in a mental ward. I can't help him." Katie begged Troyer to at least look at Ed. Reluctantly the "healer" agreed and led Ed into his examination room. A short time later, they emerged. Katie was carrying a diagnostic eye card and three bottles of herbs. Ed stood next to the healer as Katie paid him $340.00 for his services. As the group made there way outside towards the car, Troyer looked at Katie and said, "Your husband has a mental problem. Take him to a hospital. I'm afraid of suicide...goodbye and good luck."
During the ride home, Ed would grab his scalp and exclaim, "Oh my God, my brain is boiling over!" At one point, Ed's brother rubbed Ed's feet and he finally drifted off to sleep.
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"Joe, I did want to say how much we and our church enjoyed your visit and presentation with us. Many people commented on your presentation and how much it opened their eyes. It is my prayer and that of others also that we will be able to bring you on for support but of course that is not up to me. "