Follow the story of Linda Bishop, a well-educated New Hampshire mother who battled severe bipolar disorder and homelessness. Intimate accounts of her experiences raise questions about society’s treatment of the mentally ill and displaced.
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♪♪ -Dear God, please save me.
I'm trying, but I don't know what to do.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Dog barking ] [ Wind whistling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Bird calling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Whistling continues ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Whistling continues ] [ Rain falling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -It was a normal day.
It was a nice day.
I knew this property was for sale because of the sign, 'For Sale by Owner,' out front and the old barn and stuff is what interested me.
When I approached the house, I did approach the back door on the right side of the house, on the more of a driveway side and it was locked.
I peeked in the door and there wasn't much to see because the shades were pulled and stuff.
So I walked to the front door, which was a porch.
And I walked onto the porch and walked up to the door and that was all locked.
That's when I had decided to look into the bay window.
When I looked in the window, I could see a person lying there with no shoes on and her hands and arms were uncovered and, of course, you could see her head, her face, and stuff, but I just remember her shoes.
I think she had a pair of white Reebok shoes, neatly set down and socks beside them, I think.
-When I got to the address and walked over to the bay window and looked in, from what I saw, it was no joke.
It was a body lying on the floor.
It looked like it'd been there a while.
♪♪ ♪♪ The scene was strange.
It was a strange scene, more like something that you would see at the police academy of a staged incident.
The room was bare.
There was a body in the room.
There was a chair, a cup, a ice scraper, and blankets, a pillow, and two notebooks.
♪♪ ♪♪ -The body was in the living room with the legs over a heat register on the floor.
Who is she?
At that point, nobody has any clue.
So I just start walking around, just poking my nose into things and just seeing what I can find.
Most of the house was empty.
Obviously, the house had not been occupied for a while.
-While my co-workers were looking through the house, I picked up these two notebooks, journals, and saw that it looked like whoever was deceased on the floor had been writing a journal.
I started reading those journals.
'To whomever finds my body, my death is the result of domestic violence/abuse.
I talked with and wrote to many people in position of authority about this, but no one would help me.
Contact the state police, not the local police.
Please bury me in the New Durham town cemetery.
I have friends there.
Linda Bishop, date of birth 4/02/56.'
She had in a little box, 'Jesus, take me home.'
-The night that the police knocked on our door, he just came and he was all business and very serious.
I don't think he meant a whole lot by it, but it was uncomfortable at first.
He asked us if we knew Linda Bishop, if we had any ties or connections.
Who was taking care of the house?
I think at that point in time, we did plow the driveway, but that's all we had to it, and being an hour and a half away, we didn't check it very often.
-There was an unexplained dead body in a house that was closed because she made sure the doors were locked once she was inside.
And I think they were looking for any sort of lead.
-Unidentified human remains found in a home that was not hers and we don't know if there's foul play involved or what-have-yous.
So it involved -- there are many reasons in this case to perform an autopsy.
When she was found, she was very badly decomposed.
It could tell us that she's a middle-aged adult female.
She doesn't have any significant natural disease.
She doesn't have any traumatic injuries.
A lot more revealing was the journal that Linda had kept, record almost daily the events in her life that had transpired over, I think, a four- or five-month period.
-Well, it was fascinating.
I mean, I read lots of suicide notes.
Originally, I thought that's what I had.
With the line, 'To whomever finds my body,' I thought, 'Okay, this is a suicide.'
But the more you read and the more I learned about her, I realized this isn't a suicide at all.
-Sunday, October 7, 8:15 a.m., Fenbrook Farm.
I finally feel caught up on my sleep.
Nice and warm last night.
♪♪ Nice view from this chair to the west.
A cardinal and a chickadee on top of a lilac outside the window.
The dining room windows have no locks, so really easy to step in.
♪♪ Found crabapples yesterday afternoon.
I can't figure out how to put the electricity on.
I've gone out and down the about.
♪♪ Maybe I'll find a nut tree.
It's a beautiful day.
Then I found the strangest-looking apple tree... ♪♪ ...decent apples.
I picked four to bring back.
♪♪ -If you read that journal, you would have thought that she was isolated in some hidden valley and there was nobody around and she -- There was nobody to help her, um, but that night, when we were here, I made a mental note.
Through the window of the room where she was found in, I could watch the big-screen TV of the next-door neighbor.
This is a rural area, but it's not without houses.
I mean, she's 500 feet away from her neighbor.
-She was that close to safety and being assisted, then why didn't she get help?
♪♪ -So, this is my fifth day of freedom.
Route 132, very quiet today and probably tomorrow because of the holiday, Columbus Day, looked like everybody was out shopping and running errands.
Tried to get out by walking but got to house 75 in Canterbury, and I didn't think I could make it.
My foot and knee started to hurt.
No one seems to want to help.
So... I made it back by 4:30.
Just disappointed again.
I'm trying, but it doesn't make sense for me to try and get to the shelter in Laconia and make my presence known and just start this whole mess again.
To prove what?
That I'm all right?
I've done that too many times.
-It was a narrative of her day.
She even mentioned in her journal, her name, her date of birth, her social security number and some other identifying features about her.
-Once I knew who we were dealing with, we are able to secure dental records and confirm who it was.
-It's just such an odd thing to know that no one knew that there was this person in that house.
No one knew that.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ I can absolutely, totally understand why she picked that house.
It was a farmhouse.
It was near a brook and fields and that was something that she loved.
She was not into material things.
She was not into having money.
And she valued things like nature and reading and spending time with people that she cared about.
Those are the kinds of things that were very important to her.
Growing up, I think we were very much like the typical middle-class family at that time period.
We lived in a middle-class neighborhood.
My dad had a good job and my mom was at home with us.
We had a big backyard, and we would play a lot outside.
We used to go to the beach a lot, Jones Beach in Fire Island.
We'd go camping every summer.
We usually went for two weeks and it was in the Adirondacks'. There was no running water.
And there was sort of only marginal bathrooms.
It would be right on a lake.
We would go canoeing and we would fish and then we would cook the fish that night and roast marshmallows.
Inevitably, Linda, I don't know why, but she would always put the marshmallow in the fire.
I remember this one time, she saw that it was on fire, so she whipped it out of the fire and the marshmallow landed, still on fire, right in the middle of her forehead.
She did not like to be told what to do ever since she was little.
She was enormously independent.
♪♪ We did a lot of things as a family.
So we were used to being together, and we always got along, but we sort of went our own ways in terms of school and friends.
And I think we had a really good relationship with our parents.
I think it was about 1967 or '68, we moved to a town in New Hampshire called Keene.
Linda started high school there.
She was just always very naturally bright.
She would not study at all, and she would get, like, A's and B's.
She liked to talk to people.
She liked to be involved with people.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Been on a week, had a whole day of peace and quiet, except for the muffled sounds of the highway.
I figure I currently have enough apples for two weeks.
I'll do two trips again tonight but really need something besides apples to eat.
♪♪ Looking forward to getting out.
I'm sure there'll be lots of mushrooms after this rain.
I saw five or six ripe plum tomatoes in a little garden behind the apple trees.
They have beets, which I know would be good roasted, plus, found turpentine in the cellar.
♪♪ No luck with electric.
Meter isn't running.
Must be shut off at the pole.
[ Door closes ] ♪♪ I do have a lot to be thankful for.
I'm safe, which is a big thing.
I'm comfortable and warm and I'm dry and I have food, even though only apples.
Still planning on going out for apples, but I don't want to chance it in the daylight.
[ Helicopter blades whirring ] Helicopter over the barn.
It's going up South on 32, fast.
It's not like it's looking for someone.
♪♪ I'm not planning to go anywhere today, only got to the low 60s.
It's 2:00 p.m., and I'm hiding in an attic, just like so many had to hide in Nazi Germany.
♪♪ -We never went into the back attic a whole lot, but if you're looking out the back window, you were really high up and the land dropped away.
I think more so there than in any other spot in the house.
Some of the old school projects that were all put in boxes and put up in the attic with the other older furniture and picture albums, things like that.
-H. Smith married Marianne Chandler, had two kids, Lora and Brian.
Brian, he was probably born in 1950.
-I grew up in that house.
There was a brook running through that pasture, ran all year long.
We used to swim in it, catch fish in it, little minnow things or frogs.
-It's where all the kids came to play because we had the yard, we had the trees to play in, there were apple trees.
My mother was one of seven children, so it was the gathering place.
-Brian went to Plymouth State in 1968.
English comp paper on Biafra, he got a C-plus and an F, but his creative writing is very good.
Books, just basic freshman courses, biology, English comp.
'Intro to Anthropology,' 'Great Issues in Western Civilization.'
The amount of money we had to spend on textbooks.
-I think we met in '79 or '80.
We're probably all in our early 20s, just kind of finishing up college at UNH, and Linda might have just finished already.
My wife had originally met her and then introduced me to her, probably, a few months after that.
-I met Linda in 1978.
I walked into a party, and I walked into the kitchen and Linda was telling the story about how she had just moved in to an apartment.
Everyone was really kind of magnetized to her.
When she finished the story, she walked over to me and she said, 'I'm Linda Bishop.
I don't think we've met.'
-She was just a really outgoing, friendly, always greeted you and gave you a big hug and was genuinely happy to see you, so you were happy to see her, too.
-People were attracted to her. She was straightforward.
She was funny.
She could be charming and sophisticated or wild and woolly.
When I think of Linda, I think of a Dodge Dart pulling up, her with a big smile and me with a feeling that it's going to be a good day.
[ Laughs ] -She had a great sense of humor, so people were drawn to her in a lot of ways.
She started working pretty early on, even while she was in high school, at this large vegetable farm right down the street from where we lived in Keene.
She became very good friends with the people that owned this farm.
-The farm meant everything to her.
Nature meant everything to her.
At one point, she was at Three Rivers Farm.
It was an idyllic, idyllic place.
We would run from the garden with corn to the farmhouse to put it in the boiling water so we could eat it at its best.
♪♪ It was really her Garden of Eden.
♪♪ [ Crickets chirping ] ♪♪ -Really amazing little apple trees for the amount of fruit, but whoever have been taking care of them, obviously, not around anymore.
♪♪ -She had her apple orchards in the back, and she apparently loved it here.
It's just she didn't factor in the fact that winters in New Hampshire, specifically, that winter are, um, pretty unforgiving.
♪♪ ♪♪ -It's cold.
I think we got a light frost.
But no hard frost yet.
♪♪ I've been up since 4:00 a.m.
After eating my fourth apple, I'm heading down to the brook to wash.
♪♪ ♪♪ But the water is so cold.
There are no indications that I should be doing anything other than what I have been.
They seem to be no longer looking for me in this area.
♪♪ I'm worried about Cait.
I had a dream where she was yelling for me.
♪♪ -We were always, you know, together. She was the pers-- She was the mother, the father, the best friend, sister, whatnot, pretty much everything, at least, when I was younger.
My childhood, when I lived with my mother, very happy, very fun.
I'd have a big birthday party every year.
We'd invite my whole class.
She was very involved in my school.
She was with the PTA.
-She was a good cook and she loved to cook.
I know she spent a lot of time cooking with her daughter.
-I didn't know what white bread was.
Every other kid you hear about whose family's low income, they eat white bread.
-She took being a mother extremely seriously.
It was kind of a different mother/daughter relationship.
She was almost teaching her all the time about something, but it wasn't like beating her over the head with teaching.
It was, 'Let's take a walk in the woods and see what we can find for plants.
Then we'll take them home and we'll see if we can get seeds out of them and grow them.'
That was the kind of thing that she did with Caitlin.
-She was a wonderful mother. She lived for Caiti.
She loved Caiti to death.
♪♪ ♪♪ -So many milkweed seeds.
It almost looks like it's snowing.
♪♪ ♪♪ Definitely enjoying not having to deal with people for a while.
♪♪ I just want to be with my husband.
He's the only person I want to be with.
Going from, you know, the kid whose mother is, 'You are my daughter, I protect you.
You are my life' to the daughter who's second, third and fourth thought in their mind.
♪♪ -Considering how close they were and how much she felt about Caitlin, the fact that she really didn't talk about her a lot in that diary, I think, was kind of significant.
And I think it was, 'I'm just going to block that out because it's too painful.'
-I went to the barn yesterday, top floor in good shape, one lonesome bale of hay at the top of the stairs but the bottom two floors, messy.
Quite a bit of discarded equipment.
This farm raised Ayrshire cows.
Can't see if they had that many of them.
The barn's too small.
-My grandparents had about a hundred head of milking cattle at one time.
There was a second barn that you can no longer see today, it's long since gone.
It was a working farmhouse where people came, neighborhood people would drop in.
There was always activity, animals moving, people moving around.
It wasn't a solitary place like it might seem today.
-So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow laced with rainwater beside the white chickens.
♪♪ Frost last night, cold.
Not sure how apples will be after a hard frost.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Figure I have a good 300 apples.
That should be enough.
-In October of 2007, the house was empty.
The tenant had moved out, probably, spring of that year.
I live an hour and a half north.
I made one trip down with my brother to get some things.
There were still things that we wanted to take.
-We drove up to it and she says, 'There's somebody standing in that window.'
I said, 'No, that's impossible.'
But then it was all locked from the inside, and that was very strange to us.
I had to break in through the cellar door.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Something was eerie, and the house felt creepy.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Then we systematically went from room to room checking every room out... ♪♪ ...until we got to the attic.
Went in there and looked around, and there was a chair facing out the back window, which was a little unusual.
I went all through the house, even peeked up through that little trap door going up into the very peak of the house and never saw anybody.
♪♪ -We just didn't think anymore.
We just got what we wanted and headed home.
♪♪ -It's 4:00.
Someone came to look at the house.
It was a close call.
-How she was able to stay there without being spotted for months is amazing, really.
The people across the street were monitoring it.
They reported nothing out of the ordinary.
-All she had was the light of day to work by.
Once the sun went down, she just lived in perpetual darkness and winters up here, that's a long time every day.
-Time dragging on.
It's not as cold, so I went out for apples.
♪♪ There's not that many more to pick.
I keep thinking about what I'd like to eat.
For breakfast, warm, stewed apples with ricotta, big nice lamb chop with sautéed mushrooms... ...knockwurst and sauerkraut.
I'm spending a lot of time daydreaming about food.
[ Clock ticking ] ♪♪ -As I was reading it, I was saying to myself, 'Just go across the street, knock on the door.
Those people are over there and they'll help you,' but her routine was apples, reading, writing, and apples, reading, writing.
-Been here 25 days, and there are 25 days left or according to my calculations.
It's a halfway point in the Attic and Apples chapter of this book.
Just discovered two more books, 'Livestock Production' and 'Webster's New World Dictionary.'
-She was a voracious reader.
She would just read anything and everything.
-My favorite series of books is because of her, it's called 'Dealing with Dragons.'
Actually, it's called 'The Enchanted Forest' series, very unconventional princess.
She didn't want a man to control her life.
[ Laughs ] My mom and my dad got divorced when I was, like, 3.
I don't think she ever talked to me about why her and my dad got divorced.
She never bad-mouthed my dad.
I think, after that, she started working at the Dynasty in Rochester, which was a Chinese food joint.
She sort of was doing 12-hour shifts there, so she was more stressed, more of her not being around me and whatnot.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -I keep wondering, 'How am I going to get out of here?'
'Where am I going to go?'
I need Steve.
Steve has always known where I am, and Steve will show up when he's needed.
-She met this guy Steve when she was waitressing in Rochester.
-She thought he was wonderful, she thought he was kind.
-She was madly in love with him.
♪♪ -I think it was around 1999.
I would get some strange phone calls from Linda, where she was working was a Chinese restaurant.
She was a waitress in a Chinese restaurant at the time.
She kept talking about the Chinese mafia being after her.
-It was May, I was 13.
She came home from work, where she had quit her job.
She said that people were after her and we packed stuff up, couple suitcases of stuff and hit the road.
Mostly, I remember being terrified because thinking that there were people after us.
It was very, very scary.
That eventually led us to my grandma and grandpas' in Florida.
♪♪ I think at that point, I was starting to sort of get worried because every once in a while, she would call my Aunt Kath and Uncle Doug and she would tell them where we were, but it was different from where we actually were because she wanted to throw them off because she thought that, somehow, the people who were after us had found a way to sort of replicate people we knew's voice.
She thought she was actually talking to these people who were after us instead of who she was actually talking to.
♪♪ -She was incredibly gifted at being able to weave a story and then tie in all those loose bits.
It had you scratching your head.
I guess the signs were unclear.
It wasn't obvious enough to take action that, at least, in our experience of what we could do or should do.
-Last night, heavy frost.
I was warm enough, but I won't be at much lower temperatures.
Something has got to change before the real cold weather comes.
-Of course, when the house is empty and the cold seeps in and those front panes... or single pane and they rattled when the wind blew.
Probably, the caulking had dried out and didn't hold as well and the wind would catch the front of the house pretty good.
-I hope Steve is out of this weather.
I asked when we would be together and the answer was, 'Advent.'
But when Advent officially starts is my unknown.
Advent, the period including the four Sundays before Christmas.
The first Sunday of Advent would be December 2nd.
♪♪ I just counted 270 apples, so, 22 days at 12 apples a day.
I need to keep track of how many apples I really do eat.
It might be more than 12.
♪♪ -When we got back, I think things were sort of normal for a while.
And then, I woke up one morning to my mother not being in the house and a note on the table saying she had gone to see the governor and to go to my neighbor's house next door.
And I went, 'Huh. Okay, that's odd.'
I know that night, I went back to my house still going, 'Okay. Where's my mom? Where's my mom?
Where's my mom?'
Then I woke up the next morning, and she still was not there.
-Caitlin called me up one day at work and she said, 'My mother has been gone for a day.
I don't know where she is.
Can you help me find her?'
-I remember the evening news was not my friend.
I was almost certain I was going to hear about them fishing her body out of a lake.
At the age of 13, when that's what you're afraid you're going to hear about your mother, it's traumatizing.
I think it was about a week that every day I would wonder where she was.
-I got a phone call from the police department in Northern New Hampshire, way Northern New Hampshire, like three hours north, almost to the Canadian border, and they said, 'Linda Bishop is here.
We have no reason to hold her, but she needs some help.'
I drove up.
We were able to convince her to go into a very short-term psychiatric sort of stabilization place.
-The doctors had said my mom had schizophrenia.
Never heard of schizophrenia in my life until that moment.
It was sort of a big like, 'Oh, okay. There's actually something really wrong.'
-Caitlin had gone to live with her grandmother on her father's side.
It was kind of clear that at least for a while, Linda was not going to be able to care for her properly.
-I remember I was sad. I think I was scared.
I felt alone in the world.
It's a very alone feeling.
♪♪ ♪♪ -After a week or so, she had been taking medication, and she was calm, she could talk rationally.
I remember so clearly her saying to me one time, 'I realize I'm like a diabetic.
I need to take insulin every day in order to function.'
For her, it was not insulin, but it was her lithium and her Zyprexa.
The problem was that there was no real aftercare structure put into place for her.
It was her responsibility to simply go to a doctor once a month to get a refill for her prescription.
At that time, she was living with me, but she stopped taking the medication because she was feeling fine.
Once you sort of noticed that she wasn't taking her medication anymore, you were totally unable to have a rational conversation with her.
-She and Joan were sisters that were close to each other.
Joan was trying to get her to take the medications or find some therapy or some kind of help for her, but she always felt that Joan was trying to imprison her, keep her, make her do things she didn't want to do.
It was really hard to watch.
It was hard to watch when you know that one person is really trying to help the other.
But Linda didn't want that help.
-She was in complete denial and that started a cycle for several years of her going on medication, going off medication, going on medication, going off medication.
She would simply disappear for months at a time.
♪♪ She was homeless for several years.
One time, I got a call she was picked up in New York.
♪♪ ♪♪ -I first thought that she was somehow employed, like she was part of the Red Cross because she took me around and showed me the lay of the land, told me where to get things, where the bathrooms were, where food was, what each individual group was doing.
And I had said to her, 'Who are you with?'
She was like, 'Oh, I'm just a homeless woman who came down from New Hampshire.'
I was like, 'How did you get here?'
She was like, 'I made my way.
This is where I needed to be.'
She didn't look homeless at all.
She had on clean clothing.
She looked a little bit like an ex-hippie who had became a parent.
I knew she had a daughter.
You know, it was cautious, too, because...there was a level of not wanting to pry because she clearly told me she was a homeless woman.
It was a fine line of not wanting to pry into, 'Why are you homeless?'
-I thought it was just cloudy and foggy, but it was snowing, quite seriously, too.
[ Birds chirping ] I'm contemplating my mortality.
Though my death does not make sense considering everything I've been working so hard to achieve, it would be nice to not be in such emotional pain.
♪♪ -Actually, my grandma put me in counseling.
So I was talking to the counselor very little bit about it.
As far as my friends, they didn't really need to know that my mother was in a mental hospital.
I don't know if I was ashamed.
I know I just didn't want people knowing I was going to counseling.
-To Cait, Steve and I are planning on getting married.
He wants a big church wedding, which is fine with me.
The wedding colors would be spring -- lilac, dandelion, and spring green.
-Um, I don't think about Steve.
I don't talk about Steve.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Today is definitely Thanksgiving.
There are no big trucks on 93.
I'm thinking about all the things I'd like to cook -- turkey dinner, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, candied yams, mashed potatoes, stuffing.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Obviously, she's my mother. I missed her.
I missed being in New Durham.
I missed my cats.
My mom wanted to see me.
I think at that point, it was kind of okay.
'Yeah, I think I want to see my mother.
I believe I want to see my mother.
I should want to see my mother.'
[ Chuckles ] We sort of worked towards that with the counseling.
-Linda's daughter had been taken away.
And she knew that participating in our program and really stabilizing our both in her housing and her mental health and just her whole being was what was going to bring her back to her daughter.
She was really doing well.
It was really on her own motivation to get up and go to the therapist herself.
It was not something she wanted to do, but with the goal of getting to her daughter, she knew that in order to stabilize, 'I have to be on these meds.'
-Normally, she was very witty, very staccato in her thoughts, actions, movements.
You know, you're kind of like a house with the lights on, but no one's home.
[ Wind whistling ] -I'm so hurt and wounded, have such a huge amount of anger and sadness in me.
It just doesn't make sense to be barely existing.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ I spent from 4:00 yesterday until 9:00 this morning in bed.
I have a headache.
I got dizzy and light-headed.
♪♪ -In January of 2004, she went down to Florida.
My mother had already died, so my father was alone and his health was really starting to fail.
She was able to stay with him for about a month and a half.
She cooked and she cleaned and she did everything.
However, she wanted to make sure that she heard him if he got up in the middle of the night and needed something.
She knew that with her medication, she's slept very soundly, so she stopped taking her medication.
Unfortunately, after several months, she really disintegrated and was in very bad shape.
♪♪ -I see a very distinct number four made by borders of clouds with bright sun coming through this morning.
It could mean December 4th, only 12 more days.
♪♪ I was trying to imagine how it will be with Steve after all of these years.
♪♪ I know he won't care about my physical condition just as I wouldn't care about his, but I looked in the mirror and I looked drawn.
My hair is a mess.
I decided to try using a fork on my hair as a comb.
♪♪ -It was horrifying to see Linda change.
I felt helpless and hopeless. There was nothing you could do.
-At some point, that senior year of high school, I did sort of start caring for her.
I know we had a fight at some point in my senior year and I told her to go take her meds.
Coincidentally a month or so later was when she disappeared or got arrested.
-She was arrested for a DWI, and then she was arrested for not appearing in court.
There was no criminal intent.
What it was was her psychotic behavior completely taking over her life.
-This was -- Was it March 2005?
Handful of weeks before my 19th birthday?
I was just done.
So some time my senior year of high school in March was the last time I talked to her.
The last time I saw her was September 2005.
She showed up at the lady I used to babysit for's house, who then came to find me saying, 'Your mother is at my house.
She has been here since last night.
She's acting crazy.'
Me and a friend at the time actually helped her call the police to get them over there, so my mother would leave.
I was standing by the bush over here, and my mother could see this way.
I saw her, she didn't see me.
That was the last time.
♪♪ -That's a baby deer up by the brook.
He must be looking for his mother, or running from a sound.
He must smell hunters.
I just checked the number of apples, 129.
Tomorrow starts a 10-day countdown to no food, and hopefully departure.
-She was incarcerated in a county jail for a period of time.
And she threw a cup of urine on a correctional officer.
And in New Hampshire, that's considered a felony.
-My role as the trial judge was to hear the evidence at a competency hearing and determine whether Linda Bishop was competent to stand trial.
-I was questioned and a psychiatrist was questioned.
♪♪ I realized that the only thing that was going to help her was some serious psychiatric help.
♪♪ She was very, very angry with me because she believed that I was the enemy.
I was trying to put her away.
-At the hearing, she did not testify, but there were several times at the hearing where she interrupted and spoke.
She was quite aggressive and loud and very angry about what was going on.
-Probate court did deem her to be incompetent and committed her to the state hospital for a period of up to three years.
-Years ago when people were found incompetent to stand trial, they'd put them in a mental hospital and they'd sit there for years and never see the light of day.
The system we have in place now is quite protective of defendants' rights.
The three-year commitment proceeding is a maximum.
-At that point knowing that she was being committed to the state hospital, you might think, 'Oh, gosh.
But I thought, 'Well, this is a good thing.
This is finally going to allow her to get some help.'
The state hospital had a good reputation.
It wasn't this huge warehouse kind of facility, where they threw people in and locked them away forever and ever.
I believed that she was going to get good adequate care for her illness.
♪♪ ♪♪ -52nd day out of New Hampshire hospital.
I've had shelter and food and even a bed with a pillow, and I haven't had to talk to anybody I didn't want to.
No babble or yammering, no lies!
Not many people's idea of a vacation, but except for the meal plan, it's been better than what I've had to cope with daily for years.
-She talked about doctors and institutions as the big, bad, evil monster that was coming to get her.
-She didn't have a choice.
She was committed, and she knew that if she ever left with -- just walked off grounds or whatever, she knew she would be picked up and brought back.
-They had taken her power away.
Her power to be free, to live her life like she wanted to.
♪♪ -Pretty sunset, but this time of the day always makes me sad.
I should be with Steve watching the sunset.
♪♪ It was really warm last night.
Warm breeze reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song.
♪ The wind is in from Africa ♪ Last night I couldn't sleep ♪ But I really like to see [ Humming ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -The judge had said she needed a treatment.
However, she didn't believe she was sick.
So her mission was to be a model patient to show that she didn't need treatment.
-From October to February, she had been refusing medication, and so the hospital wanted to see if I would be willing to serve as her guardian, which would have meant I would have been able to make decisions for her regarding her medical care.
-And it puts you in the nursing perspective of confronting patients, saying, 'Your guardian has okayed this medication.
So, yes, you do have to take this medication.
Do you want to take this pill?
Or would you like this shot?'
Unfortunately sometimes I do hands-on to just hold the person quiet.
They go quietly or not and get a shot.
You just always hope it never comes to that.
-The burden in a guardianship case is quite heavy because, of course, the guardian is taking over control of the person's economic situation and body.
-Linda had an attorney as she should have had who advocated that, in fact, there was nothing wrong with her, she didn't need to be there at all.
And he put her on the stand.
And Linda had always been very articulate, and she sounded incredibly logical and made a whole lot of sense.
If she had been on the stand for probably three minutes longer, she would have started talking about the Chinese Mafia that was after her, and all of the delusions that she had, but it never got that far.
Judge Hampy made a decision that she did not meet the criteria for guardianship.
At that point, you're at square one.
She's in the state hospital.
She has no guardian.
Basically, she gets to make her own decision about her care, and she didn't want care.
-It's the issue of civil liberties, which is a very strong belief in the United States.
Nobody should ever have to take medicine if they don't want to take it.
This is a woman who should have been treated, but if she didn't think anything was wrong with her, why should she take medicine?
There's about 2.6 million people in the United States today who have schizophrenia, and about half the people have no awareness that they're sick.
♪♪ -We adapted that term, rotting with their rights on to denote a group of patients who by virtue of increased restrictions on ability to treat involuntarily ended up sitting in the back ward of a psychiatric hospital, untreated, or out on the streets untreated, but essentially continuing to suffer from the symptoms of their serious mental disorder.
♪♪ ♪♪ -If someone has cancer, they can make an intelligent decision about their care because they can read, they can research, they can talk to their doctor, they can get a second opinion, they can learn about their illness, and they can choose their treatment.
That is perfectly and 100% logical and rational.
When the illness involves your ability to think and decide and rationalize, then it is totally counter-intuitive to think that that person is going to be able to make a sound decision about their care.
-That last bit of power and freedom, she wasn't going to give away.
♪♪ ♪♪ -God sees everything, and I believe that, but I can't stand this too much longer.
I'm pretty weak.
♪♪ A lot of hair comes out each time I comb it.
Please God, only let there be a week left.
-When I heard that her guardianship was denied, I think like everybody else, kind of this sinking feeling, 'Oh, so now what?'
-Linda was discussed in team today.
She's continuing to refuse medication.
She exhibits core insight regarding her illness.
-Miss Bishop is not agreeing to take psycho-active medication at this time.
-She continues to deny having a mental illness.
-She continues to deny ever having a mental illness.
-Patient has continued to adamantly refuse any medication.
-I had no idea what was going on or how she was doing.
She did not want me to have any information about anything that was happening.
Admittedly it would have been against the law for the hospital to provide me with information.
-That was her right not to tell anybody.
Linda refused to sign those consents that we're allowed to speak to her family.
♪♪ ♪♪ -72 hours until the first Sunday of Advent.
I'm making a grocery list in the pink spiral notebook which has only a few pages used in it.
So I plan on taking it with me.
Now, our grocery list is huge.
I'm thinking about what I would like to cook for my husband.
♪♪ I need to be with my husband.
Wouldn't it be fun to go to a museum with Steve, one with Winslow Homers?
♪♪ ♪♪ -When she was in the hospital, there was no interaction.
If I got a letter, I read it.
That was it.
-Dear Cait, I have now proven that not only do I not have a mental illness, I never did.
And Aunt Joan finally sent me some of my money last Friday.
I was able to purchase some items from the commissary.
We're able to get free jail toothpaste and toilet paper.
We receive three meals a day.
I'm not sure how much longer I'll have to stay here.
-I have had multiple dreams about being in work, or being somewhere and my mother showing up.
She would pretty much show up and ruin what normalcy I had, so, yeah.
-Dear Cait, how was your graduation?
I hope you got pictures.
I've written three times that I have been perplexed as to why you haven't written back.
-I threw my own 19th birthday party.
I threw my own graduation party.
I just wanted to go on with my life.
-Dear Cait, I'm sorry I missed your graduation party.
They'll be plenty of good parties in the future.
Twice in 2001, your Aunt Joan had me taken to be psychiatrically evaluated.
If she can get me committed, she gets to keep all the inheritance money.
I think I told you in my last letter that all the food had been stolen.
Avoid these people, including your Aunt Joan and Kathy.
-She wrote us several letters.
Deep, dark, delusional letters.
I read that, and I didn't want that in my house, so... [ Wind whistling ] -I made it to December.
Only 20 degrees at 8:15, and it's extremely windy.
It must be close to zero with that wind chill.
♪♪ ♪♪ The heat is on in the living room only.
I'm not sure how.
The electric is not on anywhere else.
I thought the living room seemed warm, or warmer than the rest of the house.
Radiant warmth feels so good.
-We warmed it that winter.
As I drove by on the highway, you'd see in a puff of smoke coming out through a chimney where we thought everything was shut down.
Evidently, the power company never shut it off on the road to the house.
There was a small amount of natural gas which ran by the front of the house.
The pilot was still lit in the furnace.
-That register, she called it the hot seat because the heat would come up, and it would keep her warm in the winter.
She sat there, spending her day.
-I'm so thankful for the heat.
Otherwise I wouldn't be able to sit for so long, and write, but I'm so hungry.
Lots of people in the world are hungry.
A lot of people in the world are starving.
Americans are so greedy, and wasteful of their money.
I'm sure Joan is out shopping, wasting my money.
No one has the guts to take any legal action.
-Here was a person who really needed help and couldn't get it, even while she was at the hospital.
But at least she's in a structured facility where she's cared for.
So I wasn't afraid for her because I thought, 'Well, you know, she's there.'
-Linda was refusing treatment.
At some point you have to say, 'There's nothing more we can do.
'So why not try a discharge?'
-Because of her irritability, delusionality, very poor judgment, and very poor insight she'll probably get into further altercation with the police, have some problems in caring for herself.
The risk of difficulties in managing her life successfully if discharge occurs does not in my view justify keeping her in this setting much longer.
I believe she's clinically suitable for absolute discharge.
-They just said, 'Here you go.'
It would have been a good idea to inform a family member.
I mean, where is this person going to go?
-On October 3rd, I left New Hampshire Hospital at 11:00 in the morning.
I walked into town wearing a clean blue shirt with a gray sweatshirt wrapped around my waist.
I looked like a normal Concordion.
[ Horns honking ] [ Bells chiming ] ♪♪ Then I went into the woods on a trail at Memorial Field.
-She has a pair of sneakers, pants, some sort of a t-shirt and a thin jacket.
And it's October.
[ Laughs ] You know, in New Hampshire, you're not going to get very far with that outfit in October.
-October 4th, I was at Hoboville by dusk.
♪♪ I'm not hungry until after dark.
I got water.
I built a small fire to heat the soup.
-For someone like Linda, I can understand where an absolute discharge would be considered because she showed so much independence, resourcefulness.
So after a whole year, they were seen as worth the risk.
-I enjoyed being on my own time.
-They discharged her unconditionally, which means that there are no conditions.
She's just gone.
She's just out there.
They could have instituted some conditions where she was to, say, check in once a month, but they didn't.
-In the morning I moved the camp to the edge of the birdhouse field.
Then I went into the woods on a path along the river just to avoid the road and stay under cover.
A plane spied me while I was along 393.
Then I went across the highway since it seemed I was in the clear.
♪♪ It started to rain.
[ Thunder crashes ] So I backtracked... ♪♪ ...which is how I found this place.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Wind whistling ] I saved a big apple for the first day of Advent.
♪♪ I'm so glad I found the 23rd psalm.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
God knows where I am.
Steve knows where I am.
And Steve will show up or tell me what to do when the time is right.
♪♪ One more day without him finished, but hopefully one more day closer to him.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Tomorrow is the last day of apples.
No sign of rescue, but I realized that he has always made his presence known even when he couldn't pick me up.
So maybe the fact that I haven't seen Steve is a good sign.
I just hope God wants us to be together.
I love my husband so much.
I'm hoping, hoping so much.
I'm probably hoping too much for tomorrow.
♪♪ -Well, she didn't have a husband.
She wasn't married at that time.
She had been divorced.
She had met this person who she had this truly imaginary relationship with.
-What I got from Linda was... he was a customer in the Chinese restaurant who used to come in with his wife.
-He was building a house for her and was going to leave his wife and was going to build a place for them.
-She just spun this whole delusional story about him and made him into her knight in shining armor.
♪♪ ♪♪ -It's not something I would ever wish on someone, because it is that life-changing.
It does hurt that much.
I blame her illness.
I don't blame her, I don't.
With my mother, there are two very clear, different people.
There is my mother and there is Linda Bishop.
My mother is the person I grew up with, the person who I came first.
Linda Bishop is her illness.
Linda Bishop's who I hate.
♪♪ -[ Sighs ] I was sitting over the register with the Christmas lights and the tree at the first house on the right on Sanborn Road, it just made me cry.
It should be happy.
I should be excited as my added time should be over, but I'm not.
There are just too many disappointments over the years.
[ Sniffles ] My only recourse would be to go to a neighbor.
I could go to a neighbor and ask them to call the domestic violence center.
But if Satan's workers are in the food pantry and the homeless shelters, I guess they would be in the domestic violence shelters as well.
[ Wind whistling ] Dear God, please save me.
I'm trying, but I don't know what to do.
♪♪ [ Bird cawing ] Tough night.
My hope for rescue on December 4th came to nothing.
I have 3 apples saved from 12 of yesterday.
Actually, only two now.
So now in the process of salvation.
I have water, but I'm not sure how long a body lasts on just water, especially since I'm not in great shape, having only eaten apples for the last two months.
I did a lot of thinking and I did a lot of considering, and I know that the domestic violence center is not the answer, because I'm involved in something much bigger than just a domestic violence case.
One of the tactics of the perpetrator is to destroy all of the other resource, or make the woman think she doesn't have any because she is stupid.
She is lazy.
She is worthless.
Much like what was attempted on my saying I had a mental illness and quoting me disabled.
I wish I knew a little more as to what is happening.
♪♪ ♪♪ I ate my last apple.
I'm so hungry.
I couldn't fall asleep, and then, slept really deeply.
I think I was so tired because facing death by starvation was horrifying and traumatic and took quite a while to adjust to, and consider the whole situation rationally, spiritually.
♪♪ I'm trying to determine how much water I need to stay hydrated, and also I need to get the water to keep the system flushed of toxins.
I probably need more than 32 ounces in a day.
I just was considering this in the morning.
I just was considering how people get so distracted, and this was important, but I'm going to write, I'm going to write this on a later part of the day.
I'm thinking about writing a poem, too.
Poem for Steve.
I, the Lord, your God, will teach you what is good for you and show you the path on which you should go.
All things work together for good to them, that loves God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
♪♪ ♪♪ I'm doing the best I can.
I'm doing the best I can to maintain, but I don't have a lot of strength.
I had a headache, and I had a stomachache.
This is starving.
This is very painful.
If I stay here, I will die, and my survival is proof of my sanity.
So my plan is to go to Families In Transition, and then just for food, shower, laundry.
However, it's Friday, so it's a matter of surviving until Monday.
♪♪ ♪♪ -11:00 in the morning, and it's only 10 degrees.
I realized that I don't have enough strength to make it to the roads, so no use to try to make it to Manchester.
This is the fifth day without food.
So thankful for the snow.
I couldn't manage two trips all the way down to the cellar and out and down to the brook and back.
I just went out the kitchen to offer snow.
It just wears me out.
I have to go real slowly.
-What a rough winter that was.
125 inches of snow in the Concord area.
The worst on any documented record.
A lot of people think that's the reason she couldn't get out and get help, but that obviously wasn't the case, but I had pointed that out to people.
The amount of snow that was available, fresh snow, because there was a lot of it, might have been responsible for keeping her alive so long.
♪♪ -I made it to another day, but it's obvious that what I'm in the middle of and fighting against it's just too big, it's too powerful, too evil.
Definitely, the tentacles of this monster have spread even to HUD in Brockton.
But don't worry, Linda.
God sees everything.
Cast your worries upon the Lord or let go, let God.
♪♪ I know I located this place through divine prophets.
And I haven't seen a real way to leave safely, so I'll wait and continue to pray since God knows where I am.
♪♪ It's so sad to be dying, and it's hard to have so much to look forward to.
I can't look forward, so I will spend my time looking back, thinking about all the good memories.
[ Journal closes ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -She wasn't free.
She was not in any sense living her life in a way that she wanted to live it.
So she was, in a sense, a prisoner of her own mind in this house.
-I don't think she knew where the story was going.
And at some point, it became apparent to her where this was heading, and at that point, I think she became determined to let people know what happened to her.
-December 14th, to whomever finds my body.
My death is the result of domestic violence and abuse.
I talked with and wrote to many people in positions of authority about this, but no one helped me.
Contact the state police, not the local police.
Please bury me in the New Durham town cemetery.
I have friends there.
Jesus take me home.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -It was January 13th of that year, and that's where everything stopped, and we have no reason to believe she lived beyond that day, and that's where the story of Linda Bishop ended.
-[ Sighs deeply ] ♪♪ [ Clears throat ] I remember when I found out what the address was, the first thing that hit me was you can see this house from route 93 if you're going north.
I probably drove by that house 50 times on the highway, and I drove right by it and never knew.
I did not know that she had been discharged until I heard she was dead.
I wished I could have done more, you know?
♪♪ -Ultimately her death was ruled as starvation due to mental illness.
We believe that if she had found food, she would have taken food, and if she wasn't mentally ill, she wouldn't have been in the position of starving.
-We're supposed to be the greatest country in the world, and yet we allow this kind of thing to happen to someone who is defenseless in a lot of ways and really cannot advocate for themselves and cannot stand up and say, 'I need help.'
The system let her down.
It caused this terrible death to this person who did not deserve it.
♪♪ -She may have been looking for God to save her.
Think if an apple tree had bloomed in January, she would still be alive.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪