Army Veteran Sylvia Seegrist Went on Shooting Spree at Shopping Mall Killing Recife Cosmen, Ernest Trout and Augusto Ferrara; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1985)

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Sylvia Seegrist, US Army Veteran

On October 30, 1985, Sylvia Seegrist, 25, dressed in Army fatigues and black boots, parked her car in front of the Springfield Mall in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stepped out, and started shooting. She killed three people and injured seven more in the mass shooting before she was stopped by an on-looker in the mall who didn’t realize she was not in a Halloween costume. Killed in the incident was a young child and two men: Recife Cosmen, 2, Dr. Ernest Trout, 67, and Augusto Ferrara, 64. As a result, Seegrist was arrested and indicted for three first degree murders. Investigators would learn that Sylvia Seegrist was discharged from the military after a year of serving because she wasn’t “right in the head” according to Army officials. Sylvia’s mother shared that she tried to get help for her daughter and tried to get her to take medication, but no one would hear her pleas for help. Prior to and after her trial in 1986, Seegrist was held at a Pennsylvania State Hospital.

Sylvia downward spiraled after her discharge from the Army and used the military training she learned to kill innocent civilians. After Sylvia was found guilty of three first degree murders and given three life sentences, she was transferred to the women’s Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution where she still resides. The 1985 incident highlighted the fine line between an individual’s rights and the state’s authority to commit potentially dangerous people. Seegrist interviewed in 1991 said, “daily doses of anti-psychotic medication had curtailed her delusions, paranoia and explosive anger.” Why wasn’t the mental illness picked up by recruiting and instead only recognized after she joined the military? Sylvia Seegrist had paranoid schizophrenia which is a serious mental illness that requires the use of medication to manage symptomology. Sylvia Seegrist needed follow on treatment after her discharge from the Army in an effort to prevent a predictable downward spiral.

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In a rage driven by years of untreated schizophrenia, 25-year-old Sylvia Seegrist opened fire on innocent shoppers in a Philadelphia-area mall in 1985. -Deadly Women