Suspect in Subway Killing Had Attacked Twice Before

Erika Menendez spent years in and out of mental facilities: insiders

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 31, 2012 6:33 AM CST | Updated Dec 31, 2012 7:21 AM CST

(Newser) – The woman suspected of fatally pushing Sunando Sen to his death on the New York subway had attacked before, the New York Times finds in a look at her history. Police say Erika Menendez, who has been undergoing mental health treatment in various forms for years, has been arrested three times: twice for violence and once for drug possession. "I was covered with blood," says the retired firefighter she reportedly attacked while he was emptying his trash. "She was screaming the whole time ... I think I would have been dead if she had a weapon."

That attack came months after she hit and scratched another man. The Times notes that Menendez's history puts mental health services in the spotlight: Treatment comes through a range of loosely-connected institutions, from hospitals to shelters to support groups. Thousands of patients with violent records are let go from facilities with minimal oversight, says an advocate. "No one monitors if they are taking their medication," he tells the Times, "or follows up to see if they are a danger to themselves or others."

A composite sketch showing the woman believed to have pushed a man to his death in front of a subway train on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Police arrested Erika Menendez on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)
People ride the shuttle between New York's Times Square and Grand Central Station, Friday, Sept. 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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