Italian immigrant Rita Morelli,36, had all the promise in the world. Her story was similar to those of Italian immigrants from our grandmothers and grandfathers during the 1930s and 1940s. She came to the United States in search of a better life, taking a low paying waitress job at Caffe Buon Gusto on the Upper East Side in order to pay for education at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Morelli moved into the East Harlem section of Manhattan. She met a Gambian immigrant named Bakary Camara, 41, and began a romantic relationship with him that would turn deadly.
Bakaray Camara, 41, was arrested for allegedly strangling Rita Morelli, 36, to death in her East Harlem apartment on Wednesday. Morelli's live-in boyfriend discovered her body. Two days later, police received an emergency phone call talking about the killing and traced it Camara, according to the Associated Press. When police arrived at his apartment, they knocked on the door and found Camara with a knife to his chest and a written note about the incident in his pocket. After making what police said were incriminating comments, he stabbed himself repeatedly. Camara survived and was transported to the hospital.
He says it was an evil spell that was cast on him, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in a briefing on Thursday, according to the New York Post. They had apparently had a previous relationship. It was [a] somewhat rambling note, but he says that it was some sort of spell placed over him and that's why he did it.
What exactly happened to Camara that he believed he was under the control of an evil spell? What happens to people who are so taken by deadly delusions?
Dr. Gordon Paul is a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Chair at the University of Houston. He is considered an expert in the field of delusions and other mental disorders. Paul has seen individuals become so completely consumed by their delusions that they act out violently and erratically.
It is seldom that anybody would out of the blue would commit a violent act, if they haven't behaved in similar ways before, says Paul. Usually what happens, if somebody is acting in response to a delusion, there has to be something so active that they are unable to discriminate the source of their upset. Paul says there are many different that people can develop delusions, however, they usually are formed after a long period.
Delusions certainly can develop and people certainly do act on them. Generally it takes a very long time for delusions of that sort to develop, says Paul. He also speculated on the reasons people form delusions.
Sometimes they can be caused by foreign chemicals, sometimes it can be caused by exceptional stress, he says. It remains to be seen whether drugs or alcohol played a part in the death of Morelli. Paul says delusions can also develop as a way for people to interpret life events, as well. It is a way for people to understand. He continued to say that there are some people who behave violently are acting on delusions and hallucinations.
Experts and police can only speculate what set off Camara, but it is possible the breakup could have contributed to his delusions. It is also possible that killing Morelli led to the delusions. Still, based on the facts presented to Paul, both are probably unlikely.
I think it is more likely that either he really did have delusions that developed overtime or he was Or he was lying, trying to cover his ass, says Paul. Either of those is more probable than someone committing a violent act and developing delusions after the fact, but again, people are strange.
Paul also said that says people claiming they are under a magic spell are a common delusion that he has seen before. He cited an example of patient he was treating who developed a delusion that a woman in his office was a voodoo priestess who was casting spells on him. Over a period of three years, Paul says that that the delusion became worse.
Things developed in his own mind that he invited her to come to his office which was one the 6th of 7th floor. He was going to show her that he was Apollo the sun god and he could fly by jumping out of the window, says Paul.
It is important for friends, family, and coworkers to recognize when delusions are forming. The woman immediately recommended the man receive help. Unfortunately, no one was able to catch issues with Camara. If they had, Morelli could still be alive today.