Univ. professor arrested for murder

Jessie Markovetz

Updated Aug. 28 2:52 p.m.Read related contentWhen the ‘baby blues’ become deadly

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A University professor was arrested Aug. 4 and charged with second-degree murder in the death of her infant daughter, authorities said.Dr. Mine An Ener, 38, of Wynnewood, confessed to the murder of her 6-month-old daughter, Raya Donagi, while in police custody Aug. 4. The baby had Down syndrome.According to police, Ener, who apparently had been taking medication for postpartum depression, cut the infant’s throat twice with a kitchen knife, then found her mother and told her that she had killed her daughter to end the baby’s pain.”She was very calm, very lucid at the interrogation,” Sgt. Bruce Wynkoop of the St. Paul Police Department said. “There were no tears at all … She felt the baby was suffering.”Ener was in court for her arraignment Aug. 6. The hearing was continued for a second time until Sept. 24.Police said Raya, who was born Feb. 1, had suffered complications related to Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder.Authorities said Ener, after feeding her baby in her mother’s Desnoyer Park home Monday morning, brought her child into the bathroom, laid her on the floor and slashed her throat twice with the knife.According to Wynkoop, Ener’s mother immediately called 911, and Ener spoke to the dispatcher briefly before officers arrived at the scene shortly after 9 a.m. She did not resist arrest.Ener’s husband, Ron Donagi, was working and did not travel to St. Paul with his wife and daughter.Police said family members had been worried that Ener might commit suicide. The trip to her mother’s house, Wynkoop said, was a chance to get away from everything.”She was trying to get her life together,” he said.Senior Ryan MacMaster, an honors and political science major, knew Ener outside of class, occasionally visiting her office to speak with her.”She’s an excellent professor, someone you can always talk to,” MacMaster said. “She was someone who was pleasant to be around.”When he first heard the news – MacMaster said a friend sent him a link to an article about the arrest – his first reaction was shock.”At first I thought it was a joke. I was surprised, in disbelief that this had happened,” MacMaster said.”When I saw the headline, she was the last professor I expected the article to be about.”While Ener was taking medication for postpartum depression, a condition that affects a large number of mothers in at least a mild form called the baby blues, some feel her symptoms indicate a greater problem.Dr. Marcy Weiner, a therapist at the Postpartum Stress Center in Rosemont, believes Ener should have been treated for postpartum psychosis, a rare and severe form of postpartum depression. Though Weiner has not spoken with Ener, she said the symptoms Ener displayed are more characteristic of postpartum psychosis.”You tend to see a lack of emotional response. They’re not hysterically upset, they’re just very flat,” Weiner said, and noted the Andrea Yates case of 2001 as an example of the condition. Yates, who had postpartum psychosis, drowned her five children, ages 6 months to 7 years. She was sentenced to life in prison.The University sought a substitute for the classes Ener was scheduled to teach this fall, Themes in Modern World History and History of the Modern Middle East. But they were cancelled when no replacement could be found.Barbara Clement of the University’s public relations department expressed sadness on behalf of Villanova.”Dr. Ener is a gifted professor, respected by fellow faculty, students and staff,” she said.Ener, who was scheduled to begin her eighth year as a professor at the University, was the director of Villanova’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies. She specialized in the history and culture of the Middle East and was recently promoted as an associate professor in the history department.Kail Ellis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, led a private prayer service Wednesday that was attended by Ener’s colleagues.

Associate Editor Jill Ozovek contributed to this report.