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Posted at 01:54 PM ET, 07/23/2011

Patient kills McLean psychiatrist, then herself, police say

A 71-year-old McLean psychiatrist was shot and killed Friday afternoon by a patient who then killed herself in the doctor’s home, Fairfax County police said.

Police identified the doctor as Mark A. Lawrence, of Tebbs Lane, and the patient as Barbara Newman of the 9600 block of Farmside Place in Vienna.


Mark A. Lawrence (MELVIN STERN)
Lawrence had voiced concerns about the patient during a lunch the day before he was killed,with Mel Stern, a psychiatrist and longtime friend who lives in Chevy Chase.

Lawrence was very concerned about the woman’s paranoia and believed that she needed outside consultation, Stern said. But he did not express any fear that she was a danger to herself or to him, said Stern, who has known Lawrence since they trained at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center together in the 1960s.

News of the murder “came as a shock to me,” said Stern, who heard about it from Lawrence’s wife, Karen. She was at home when the attack occurred, Stern said.

The murder-suicide occurred at about 4:15 p.m. Friday in a wealthy neighborhood less than a mile from the private Madiera School, where the Lawrences had lived "forever," said one neighbor, who declined to give her name.  She said she and other neighbors were shaken by the violence and were still processing it.  

Lawrence, who has one daughter and one granddaughter, had retired from his clinical practice but still saw a few patients at his home office, according to Dr. Cynthia Margolies, a colleague of eight years at the Center for Healing and Imagery where Lawrence taught.

“He had a huge heart, he was one of the kindest people ever,” Margolies said. “He was just uniquely and highly skilled in helping people work in therapy.”

Lawrence and Stern have belonged to the same book club since 1974 and have gotten together at least every other week to discuss books ranging from David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect” to Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.”

Lawrence skied (both on snow and water) and played tennis, Stern said.

“He was human, loving, open. He was very bright, creative, both in a right-brain and left-brain sense,” Stern said. “He was like a brother.”

Lawrence received his bachelor's degree from Amherst College in 1961 and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1965. He trained at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and has served on the psychiatric faculty of Georgetown University Medical School and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

The Center for Healing and Imagery was founded in 1984 and aims to combine experiential “right-brain” oriented approaches with traditional “talk therapy,” according to the organization’s website.  

By and  |  01:54 PM ET, 07/23/2011

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