Woman accused of murder claims Savannah hospital denied her entry — (Savannah Morning News)

SSRI Ed note: Woman on & off "stabilizing" meds for bipolar, has episodes of psychosis, drives to another state to kill grandmother, aunt's boyfriend. Mental illness blamed.

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Savannah Morning News

Posted February 10, 2009 11:30 pm – Updated February 11, 2009 12:23 am

Amy Kern

A St. Marys woman lied when she told authorities Georgia Regional Hospital denied treatment for her hours before she traveled to Florida allegedly to kill two people, according to the agency that oversees the Savannah facility.

Dena Smith, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Human Resources, said Tuesday that Amy Kern, 30, never made it to the Savannah facility early Saturday morning, as she later claimed to police.

“We checked phone records, call logs, surveillance cameras – even asked security on site that evening to see if anyone was around the building,” Smith said. “We have turned up nothing.”

On Sunday morning, Kern was booked into jail in Palm Beach County, Fla., on charges including homicide and burglary.

The Jupiter, Fla., and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., police departments have accused Kern of fatally shooting her aunt’s boyfriend Saturday, then fatally beating her grandmother with a tire iron.

Andy Charneski, Kern’s fiance, said Kern left St. Marys early Saturday morning for Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah to get help stabilizing medication she was taking to treat a bipolar disorder that causes her to become schizophrenic.

“She was taking her medication, but it takes a month for her to get used to that,” Charneski said. “It’s unfortunate this happened. She is truly the victim here.”

Charneski said he and Kern spoke by mobile phone as she traveled toward Savannah, and she told him she arrived at Georgia Regional Hospital about 1:30 a.m.

“It was locked,” he said she told him. “She was going to come back there.”

Random gunfire

At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Kern arrived at her father’s house in Port St. Lucie so she could get his gun and shoot him because he was Satan and she was Jesus, she told Jupiter police. There, she stole a gun, bullets, pictures of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and some pornographic tapes, according to an incident report e-mailed by Jupiter police to the Savannah Morning News.

Her father was not home at the time, police there said.

Kern randomly shot at motorists from her car on Interstate 95. She shot at a woman in a sport utility vehicle because “the woman was pretty and because she felt like the woman was being snotty,” the police report stated.

One shot, other beaten

Later that morning, Kern went to the home of her aunt, Beverly Kern, 54, and fatally shot her boyfriend, William Earle Chapman, 59, hitting him twice in the stomach and in the chest, the police report stated.

Amy Kern then went to a Jupiter home to kill her grandmother, Donna Kern, 80, because “she had a bad feeling about her all her life,” the police report stated.

But the gun jammed, so Amy Kern beat her grandmother repeatedly with a tire iron, Jupiter police said. They arrested Amy Kern at her grandmother’s home.

She told police there that she was escorted to Georgia Regional by a police officer. She arrived, rang a doorbell, and no one answered, she said.

Smith said research of Kern’s claims to police prove otherwise.

“We have cameras, so if there was a problem we could address this, but it isn’t true,” Smith said.

Savannah-Chatham police spokeswoman Judy Pal said her department has no record of an officer assisting Kern on Friday or Saturday.

History of illness

Charneski said his fiancee has experienced mental problems since she was 19, but symptoms subsided until she became pregnant. The two have a 2-month-old girl and planned to marry next month, he said.

In December, Charneski said, Amy Kern attacked him with an ax. In January, she threatened to kill him with a tire iron, according to St. Marys Police Department reports.

Reports also indicate other psychiatric episodes. In December 2007, Amy Kern’s brother called police after she arrived at his house with a rifle, claiming voices told her to shoot her father. Police took her to Southeast Georgia Health System’s Camden County Hospital, and she later was transported to Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, according to a St. Marys police report.

Another report taken in November alleges that while she was eight months pregnant, Amy Kern tried to commit suicide by holding her breath. Paramedics again took her to the Camden County hospital.

Help available

Three Savannah hospitals said help is available 24 hours a day for people going through a psychological crisis.

Smith said Georgia Regional Hospital is staffed around the clock. The hospital also has a 24-hour help line for anyone with psychological or chemical dependency issues.

Michael Notrica, spokesman for Memorial University Medical Center, said anyone who enters the emergency department there claiming psychiatric problems is evaluated and could be admitted as a patient.

St. Joseph’s and Candler hospitals will admit psychiatric patients only if they have a medical condition, said Scott Larson, hospital spokesman.

But if someone comes to either emergency room with a psychiatric problem, they are taken in and help is found at an appropriate agency, he said.