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Wednesday, May 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Mom Says Shrink Ignored Tell-Tale Signs of Killer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - A psychiatrist ignored the "well-documented" violent propensities of a teenager who murdered her neighbor, a mother claims in court.

Alyssa Bustamante was 15 when she killed 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten on Oct. 21, 2009.

Bustamante pleaded guilty to the murder and is serving a life sentence. She led authorities to the body, which she had buried at one of two grave sites that she prepared a week prior to the murder.

The girl told police she killed Olten because she wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody, and she had written in her journal afterward that the experience was "pretty enjoyable."

Patricia Preiss says her daughter, Olten, would still be alive if Bustamante's psychiatrist, Dr. Nigar Sultana, had taken heed of the warning signs.

"Bustamante's violent propensities were well-documented from a young age, including but not limited to a declaration on her 'Myspace' page that her hobbies were 'cutting; killing people,' a video wherein Bustamante electrocutes her younger brothers, a picture of Bustamante holding a knife to another girl's throat, and other evidence as shall be discovered in this matter," according to the complaint in Cole County Circuit Court.

Preiss says that Sultana; his employer, Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare; and Ron Wilson, the children's superviser at Pathways, knew about Bustamante's violent tendencies.

"Despite actual knowledge of the threat Bustamante posed to Olten, none of these defendants took actions to detain Bustamante, none took action to result in her detention, none warned Olten or Preiss of the specific threat on Olten, nor did they take any action that might have prevented Bustamante from harming Olten," the complaint states.

"The failure of these authorities to exercise due care in controlling Bustamante's documented violent propensities and/or in responding to her specific threat on Olten's life, and preventing her actions, was a direct and proximate cause of Olten's death."

Preiss says Bustamante, Pathways, Sultana and Wilson should pay punitive damages for wrongful death. She is represented by Matthew Diehr of Jensen, Bartlett & Schelp in St. Louis.

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