STAMFORD, Conn. – The woman shot to death after a police chase from the White House to Capitol Hill had been suffering prior mental health issues, according to federal law enforcement officials, including postpartum depression after her daughter was born and a troubling fixation on President Barack Obama.
That portrait began to emerge Friday as police in Washington launched a two-pronged investigation to determine why Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old mother from Stamford, drove erratically around the White House and Capitol Hill with her 18-month-old daughter in the back seat, and whether police responded appropriately by shooting her after she repeatedly refused to stop.
Carey’s declining mental stability, the sources said, developed into a belief that the president was “controlling her” life, which may explain why she appeared Thursday afternoon next to the White House and then led Secret Service agents and Washington police on a two-mile, three-minute chase down Pennsylvania Avenue. Along the way, two officers were injured.
“She thought that the president had her apartment under surveillance,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “That must have prompted her trip to Washington and her attempt to visit the White House.”
Separately, sources told the Hartford Courant in Connecticut that Carey’s boyfriend called Stamford police to report concerns about Carey’s mental health and whether her young child was at risk of being harmed. The sources also said Carey had an obsession with Obama and wanted to meet him. She called herself the “prophet of Stamford,” the sources said.
Her home in Stamford was searched overnight, with scores of police officers and evidence technicians scouring the premises, where she also ran a home-based dental employment agency. Interviews with some who knew Carey suggested she could sometimes be difficult.
Her former employer said Carey had suffered a head injury in a fall and had been fired as a dental hygienist about a year ago.
Dr. Brian Evans, a periodontist in Hamden, Conn., an hour’s drive northeast of Stamford, said Carey was fired from her job at his office but wouldn’t say why. He said Carey had been away from the job for a period after falling down a staircase and suffering a head injury and it was a few weeks after she returned to work that she was fired.
Amy Carey, her sister, told CNN, “I just know that my sister did experience postpartum depression with psychosis, which came along with treatment and medication and counseling. It was a momentary breakdown when she had to have emergency care.”
She added that Carey “had her challenges as a new parent” and did not appear to be unstable.
“We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died. We can only speculate, and our real concern is why and were things done properly? Was there some other way that she could have been helped so it didn’t end tragically?”
The Secret Service said they were not aware of Miriam Carey or any fixation with the president.
Police have not made it clear whether was shot inside or out of her car. But authorities said they are conducting an internal review into the shooting. Law enforcement sources confirmed she was not armed.