Woman Accused in Shootings Was in Mental Hospital, Report Says
NEW YORK (AP) _ A woman accused of killing financier Nicholas Deak and his receptionist was well known to Seattle police, who say she was released from a mental hospital last summer and was often seen tramping around the University of Washington campus.
Lois Lang, 44, had been arrested at least five times in the Seattle area since 1982 and had once tried to grab an officer’s gun, The New York Times today quoted the head of the university’s police department as saying.
Sgt. Forest T. Franklin said Ms. Lang was committed to the Northwest Hospital in Seattle for three days after being arrested by campus police in November 1984 on charges she stole food from the student cafeteria.
She was again hospitalized for two weeks in August, at the Western State Hospital near Tacoma, Wash., after she was accused of posssessing stolen property, Franklin told the Times. The charges against her were dropped.
Ms. Lang was ordered held without bail Tuesday after being arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court in the fatal shooting of Deak, 80, chairman of Deak- Perrera U.S., the nation’s largest non-bank dealer in currency and precious metals, and Frances Lauder, 58. A hearing was set for Monday.
Police said Ms. Lang was under the delusion that she was a part owner of Deak-Perera and felt Deak had done her some ″financial injustice.″
Law enforcement sources said Ms. Lang apparently believed the government had given her Deak-Perera in the 1940s. The sources, who spoke on the condition they not be identified, said Ms. Lang believed she had then entrusted Deak with the company.
When Deak & Co. filed for protection under federal bankruptcy laws last year, Ms. Lang became convinced that Deak had mismanaged the firm, and she decided to kill him, the sources said.
Murray Bernstein, one of her court-appointed lawyers, said he had not requested a psychiatric exam ″because there was no indication at this time that there was anything wrong with her mental faculties.″
But Franklin told the Times, ″She once mentioned to one of our officers that she was going to New York one day to set up her empire and rule the world.″
Ms. Lang told police she had arrived in the city Monday after an 1,100-mile bus trip from Orlando, Fla. She went to the company’s 21st-floor offices and asked to see Deak. She was ushered out.
Police said she returned about two hours later. They said she first fired two shots at Mrs. Lauder, hitting her in the head and killing her instantly.
She then encountered Deak, who had come out of his office to see what was happening. Police said she fired three shots, hitting him once in the heart.
According to sources, Ms. Lang ″travels all over the country by bus,″ but it was not clear where she got the money for her travels or for the gun.
They said Ms. Lang had gone to the offices before - four years ago and again four months ago.
Police said among her belongings were a knapsack containing an aluminum baseball bat; $100 in cash; several foreign coins of little value; and a receipt, indicating that she had purchased the Charter Arms .38-caliber Undercover Special at the E-Z Money Pawn Shop in Orlando last Thursday for $115.
A worker at the store who identified himself only as ″Bert″ said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he could not recall selling the gun to the gray-haired woman.
But at the Orange Court Motor Lodge in Orlando - the address Ms. Lang gave the pawn shop when she purchased the gun and the address she gave police after her arrest - manager Helen Balestra said she believed she remembered Ms. Lang.
She said a woman resembling Ms. Lang and carrying a backpack containing an aluminum bat appeared at the motor lodge last Wednesday and asked for a room.
Told that the rate was $22 a night, the woman said that a former manager, Ruth Gich, had promised that she could stay there for $10 a night whenever she wanted. Ms. Balestra told the woman Mrs. Gich had been dead seven years.
″Well, say hello to her for me,″ the woman replied.
After further discussion she left, appearing ″aggravated,″ Ms. Balestra said.