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Death of Innocents - A Review

Date: Sun, 28 Dec 97

"The Death of Innocents"
Richard Firstman and James Talan

None of us more normal humans like to live by another's agenda. But to read this gripping story is to realize that our entire country, to include our National Institute of Health, major teaching hospitals, parents of babies who died of the mysterious malady "crib death", and crime investigators, have lived the better part of the last 20 years under the agenda of one Dr. Al Steinschneider. So who is this guy?

Read "The Death of Innocents" and you will discover that Dr. Steinschneider was one of the biggest fools that ever lived and, even more amazingly, he managed to spawn an entire industry and squander millions of tax dollars by the discoveries he made studying one Waneta Hoyt. Ms. Hoyt, you see, murdered all five of her children. Only the wise Dr. Steinschneider accepted Waneta's explanation that the children died of crib death. "Had to be," she theoretically told the great doctor, "else how do they end up dead?"

Dr. Steinschneider considered this a great find, indeed, and proceeded to commandeer a large section of a New York teaching hospital, procure federal funds for research, and join forces with the makers of "apnea" devices that would detect changes in breathing of designated "at risk" infants before they could die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). "SIDS must be hereditary," proclaimed the great doctor, "else why are ALL of Waneta Hoyt's children dying?"

Dr. Steinshneider's research on SIDS was published in major and scholarly medical journals. His findings were considered a breakthrough, as babies could now be identified early as "at risk" for SIDS and, through the amazing home monitoring devices of one Healthdyne Industries, have their death avoided. Two problems. The Healthdyne monitors were basically a metal box of crap that had parents hysterical with their many false alarms. And there was the little problem that SIDS is not hereditary, though Dr. Steinschneider determined such through his study of Waneta Hoyt, and the more problem babies were deemed to be those born of parents that suffered the loss of a baby previously because of crib death. Unfortunately, and of no mind to the megalomaniac Steinschneider, these are EXACTLY the parents that very well may have murdered the baby that died from crib death and now basically have the health industries' blessing to go and murder again. Least that's what Waneta Hoyt did.

Quite of bit of research went into this book. And the reading can get a bit tedious at times. For this reader, there was only to remember that the bureaucratic and medical narrative is to be read with diligence because, damn it, THIS is how things happen in our human lives.

So we spend chapters reading how the grants were applied for and determined valid. How the directors and administrators of major hospitals dreamed of publicity and glory for their institutions and seduced Dr. Steinschneider to bring his business here and let our hospital bask in the glow of your genius. How the nurses cajoled and pleaded with the great doctor to please, please pay attention to this woman because we are certain she is killing those babies. How all five of Waneta's children died when only SHE was present. How the few physicians who were skeptical about Ms. Hoyt and Dr. Steinschneider were thwarted in their attempts at dissent by a medical establishment that had everything to gain by allowing no consideration to hints that this woman might be killing her children. How the prosecutors and investigators slammed, even 25 years after the childrens' deaths, directly into that same medical establishment, now more interested in covering their stupid behinds than bringing this woman to justice.

It's simply unbelievable. Yet it really happened. The book and the tale is a study in why human beings should seriously scrutinize the agenda of others in our world to insure that we are not, as so many were by Hoyt and Steinschneider, sucked into silliness not of our own making.

Review by;
Patricia Fish
Pasadena, Md.

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