Sherry Ilene Windt, who as a 16-year-old in Bethesda stabbed her mother to death in 1975 while in what some psychiatrists described as a trance-like state, was found dead yesterday in her college dormitory in Annapolis.
She apparently had committed suicide, one official said.
Windt, 20, whose case set off an intense psychiatric debate in the criminal justice system, was found shortly after midnight in her St. John's College room. A note asking that she not be distrubed had been tacked to the door, according to sources.
Dr. Homez guard, of the state medical examiner's office, said she died Tuesday, apparently after taking an overdose of some type of drug.
By midnightTuesday, friends at the freshman dormitory became concerned about her welfare, and security guard entered her room and found her dead, according to a college dean.
During a therapy session Monday afternoon, Windt told psychiatrist Russel Monroe that the recent anniversary of her mother's death had left her particularly depressed, the doctor said last night.
The same phenomenon occurred last year at the time of the Oct. 16 anniversary, added Monroe, who is chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Maryland.
Windt called Monroe on Monday morning and asked for a special appointment the same day, saying she was upset. Monroe was filling in for Windt's regular psychiatrist, who is on maternity leave.
"The main problem was she was a pretty lonely person. There weren't many people behind her . . . and she was pretty much on her own," said Monroe, who added that Windt had "minimal" family support and only one close friend -- a young man she had been seeing for more than a year.
"She'd been depressed off and on, but she wasn't talking suicide to me . . . nothing to indicate she was thinking or planning (it)," Monroe said.
"She was a teary-eyed and worried about a lot of things," said Monroe. "But she was coping," the doctor said, and left his office, making an appointment to see him again next week.
On Monday night, friends who lived with Windt on the third floor of the women's dormitory found a note tacked to her door saying, "I've gone to bed early . . . please don't distrub me," according to one dormitory resident.
On Tuesday night, two friends were concerned enough to call an assistant dean and ask that a security guard check the room.
When the guard arrived at about midnight, he found Windt dead, according to Dean of the College Edward Sparrow. Although a search was made, no drugs were found, he said.
On June 30, 1978, two months after a Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge found Windt responsible for her mother's death, doctors at the University of Maryland psychiatric institute released Windt, saying she no longer needed in-patient care.
She had been sent to the institute more than a year earlier. After her trial ended, Judge Douglas H. Moore Jr. ordered that Windt remain under intensive treatment at the institute as long as her doctors believed necessary. Windt still was seeing doctos for outpatient treatment at the time of her death, according to one of her psychiatrists.
During her appearances in court on murder charges, Windt was described as having multiple personalities, like the celebrated character in the movie, "The Three Faces of Eve."
Psychiatrist Reginald Lourie testified that she was in a trance-like "Dissociative state" cut off from reality when her 42-year-old mother Marjorie was stabbed to death in their Bethesda apartment.
She remembered nothing of what happened, Lourie said. Windt asserted in an interview last year that she still remembered nothing of the night of Oct. 16, 1975.
Windt and her mother, who was the advertising and public relations director for Garfinckel's department store, lived together at the expensive Kenwood House apartment complex in Bethesda. Windt's father and mother were divorced when she was an infant, and Majorie Windt treated her daughter as an adult confidant.
The night before the murder, Windt had helped her mother get ready for an embassy party, and later had cared for her when she returned with a messy hangover, one psychiatrist said.
When police arrived at the Windt apartment the night of the slaying -- four years and one week ago -- they found Marjorie Windt dead with multiple stab wounds. The three-inch paring knife used to kill her had been cleaned, police said.
Accounts peiced together at the time indicated that shortly after the killing Windt first called the father of a high school friend and asked him to come over, then called The Washington Post with information for her mother's obituary.
In the three years after her arrest, one psychiatrist after another examined Windt and said that she was an exceptionally poised, exceptionally intelligent teen-ager who was also deeply distrubed.
Doctors could not, however, agree how many of her symptoms of mental distrubance were genuine.
One group of psychiatrists from the Massachusetts Mental Health Center said that the apparent amnesia that prevented her from remembering the night of the murder was "like a fantasy of what amnesia might be thought to be."
Dr. Brian Crowley, a local psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution said during a hearing that he believed Windt willed herself to forget the murder only after it occurred.
The day after the fatal stabbing, which Windt told police had been a suicide by her mother, the fragile, dark-haired teen-ager was charged with murder. However, she immediately underwent psychiatric evaluation, and her case was ultimately transferred to the juvenile court system, where the emphasis is on treatment rather than punishment.
All told, Windt had spent about a year in jail, several months under psychatric evaluation and 15 months in intestive treatment at the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behavior in Baltimore. Shortly after her release, she told a reporter: "I feel if I had gotten help and my mother had gotten help earlier, this [the killing] wouldn't have happened."
In the same interview, she talked with anguish about dropping out of group therapy a few months before the murder, and said her mother had been against therapy. But she spoke of bright plans for the future, of going to college and of achieving her greatest desire -- "to make a normal life."
Windt had been a brilliant, artistically inclined student at the exclusive Holton-Arms School in Bethesda at the time of her mother's death.
Her father, Jack Windt politely refused to discuss the matter yesterday. "It's my kid and it's personal," he said. "The less that's written, the better."
Sherry Windt's case had set off an intense psychiatric debate within the criminal justice system. While Lourie, called by the defense, held to the theory of a trance-like state in which Windt remembered nothing of the crime, psychiatrists called by the prosecution disagreed.
Dr. Brian Crowley, in a 1976 report to the Montgomery County Circuit Court, concluded that the facts in the case "may be compatible" with Lourie's theory of the trance-like state.
"The facts aso appear to be compatilbe with the theory that a brilliant young woman planned to kill her mother and make it look like suicude, did so, and when the appearance of suicide was seen through, decided to forget the whole affair," Crowley wrote.
Lourie, who has not seen Windt for about two years, expressed sadness at her sucide, but said that it fit with her psychiatric history. "She'd had suicidal ideas before," the doctors said. "What came out under hypnosis [during her evaluations] was that she had such ideas still."
Another psychiatrist, conducting one of the many evaluations Windt underwent after the killing, wrote: "This girl, psychiatrically speaking, is sitting on a volcano."
But Windt, in the interview last year, talked only of putting her past behind her.
"I know it's impossible for me to forget about everything. . . impossible to forget what's happened, being arrested and what led up to it and everything since. It's impossible to forget, but the biggest thing is to learn from what happened and to deal with things more constructively."