University Removes Memorial To Professor Who Killed Infant
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 2, 2005
VILLANOVA, PENNSYLVANIA--Officials at Villanova University announced Monday that they have removed a plaque from a library study area dedicated to Dr. Mine Ener, the history professor who admitted murdering her infant daughter before killing herself a year and a half ago.
The Catholic university will instead hold a symposium on mental illness, with special focus on post-partum depression.
The memorial in the alcove had been designed by a campus ad hoc committee and was financed by Ener's friends, colleagues and family.
On August 4, 2003, Ener admitted using a 12-inch kitchen knife to slice the throat of her 6-month-old daughter, Raya Donagi, who had Down syndrome -- twice. Police said Ener told them she "did not want the child to go through life suffering" with her disability and that she was afraid the child might have to use a feeding tube. According to some media reports, Ener had been experiencing post-partum depression in earlier months and talked about committing suicide and about hurting her child.
Ener was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. But on August 30, her body was discovered in a jail day room. She had apparently smothered herself to death with a plastic trash bag.
"It never mentioned that she was a mother," said Jeanne Marie Hoffman, a student newspaper editor who protested the memorial plaque. "That whole thing was glazed over. The baby was never mentioned."
"It upset me," Hoffman told the Associated Press. "I thought . . . if I didn't say something, this will pass by unnoticed."
The Norristown Times Herald said in an editorial last month that the university was wrong to dedicate a section of the on-campus library to Ener.
"Villanova should not hold the actions of such a troubled woman in high esteem," it read.
As has been the case with other high-profile murders of children with disabilities at the hands of their parents, most media stories and experts have sympathized with the killers.
Many disability groups have emphasized that people with Down syndrome can lead satisfying lives -- often living as long as the general population. Many parents of children with Down syndrome have said that, while there are challenges, the rewards are immeasurable.
"Villanova removes plaque of teacher who killed self and her disabled daughter" (Beaver County Times Allegheny Times)
"Villanova wrong in honoring a troubled woman" (Times Herald)
"Mom Kills Infant Daughter With Down Syndrome, Then Kills Self" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)