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Mother Accused in Teen Suicide Pact

Crime: A Michigan woman allegedly helped when her son and his wife, both healthy, wanted to take their lives.


LANSING, Mich. — They passed the law just across town from the Holey home, at the state Capitol, to keep Dr. Jack Kevorkian from helping sick people kill themselves. Now it's being invoked for just the second time, against a mother accused of actively helping and even encouraging her healthy teenage son and his healthy teenage wife to carry out a suicide pact.

The very idea that the two kill themselves, police allege, came from 42-year-old Kathleen Holey.

Her 19-year-old daughter-in-law survived the elaborately designed death cocktail. Her son, also 19, did not.

The former secretary now faces five years in prison in a case so byzantine in its horrors that law enforcement veterans here are struggling to wrap their minds around it. Arraigned last week, Kathleen Holey is accused of going so far as to buy the teens anti-nausea medication so they wouldn't vomit their overdose of narcotics.

"The whole thing, from beginning to end, is bizarre," said Clinton County prosecutor Chuck Sherman. "I've been here 20 years, so I've seen a lot of awful cases, but this one, well, it certainly ranks at the top."

For Patrick Allen Holey and Jennifer Patricia Holey, life was slipping out of control by the evening of April 8, when the state took custody of their 8-month-old daughter.

Patrick, who sang in the Everett High School choir, was known as the thoughtful, caring person whom other members of his clique would turn to for help with personal problems. Jennifer, who recently transferred from another school, combed her hair over much of her face for her 2001 yearbook photograph.

The two, whose group of friends tended toward heavy alternative rock 'n' roll and black T-shirts, married early last summer, had a baby girl in August and returned to class in the fall. They soon dropped out, however, school officials said, overwhelmed by the task of caring for their new child.

The state's Family Independence Agency took an interest in the couple early on. They were young, they lived with Patrick's mother, who was receiving disability for chronic pain, and no one in the household is believed to have held a regular job.

Two weeks ago, officials from the agency came to the house on the working-class south side of Lansing and seized custody of their girl.

The baby was "failing to thrive," a social worker had decided. She was not gaining weight properly, seemed ill and, the case worker determined, appeared to be in physical danger, said Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas.

There was yet another trauma in the couple's nine-month marriage, according to authorities. Both had been questioned by Lansing police in connection with an investigation. Police declined to discuss the inquiry.

On the morning after their daughter was taken, Kathleen Holey and the young couple went to family court for the first in what was supposed to become a series of hearings to determine their fitness as parents. The judge ordered that, pending further proceedings, the child be kept in the custody of the state. After leaving court, the three began discussing suicide. Kathleen Holey suggested death may be the best solution to their problems, according to statements made later by Jennifer Holey to police.

In Kathleen Holey's red van, prosecutors allege that the three drove home, gathered blankets and pillows and then headed to a pharmacy at Michigan State University, nearby in East Lansing.

Kathleen Holey filled a prescription in her name for the powerful painkiller Fentanyl, in the form of lozenges, police say. She also filled a prescription for a box of time-release Fentanyl patches, not unlike the nicotine patches smokers apply to their skin to help them quit. And finally, to help the teens keep the lozenges down, she bought the anti-nausea medication.

From there, the three headed to a last meal for the teens. They ate at a McDonald's.

Either shortly before or after the trip to McDonald's, Kathleen Holey allegedly made another stop, dropping by a female friend's house. The friend and the friend's 13-year-old daughter climbed into the van and off the five went, discussing the fine points of the suicide plan as they drove in search of a place to carry it out.

There were issues to discuss: Kathleen Holey wanted to be certain she could not be tied directly to their deaths, police contend, so they headed northeast, to rural Clinton County. Jennifer told police later that she wanted a proper burial, not to have her body decompose, undiscovered, and so it was agreed that someone would make an anonymous call to police two days later.

As they talked about the plan, the teens took the anti-nausea medication.

About 20 miles from home, on a back road in Ovid Township, they came across an abandoned farmhouse.

The three Holeys broke a window and crawled through, into the basement, authorities say, while Kathleen Holey's friend took the van for a drive. They didn't want passersby noticing a vehicle parked there.

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