Next up is the Metropolitan State Hospital, which was Fernald’s sister hospital. It housed mentally ill adults rather than children, and had a far more gruesome history.
Also located in Waltham on the same road as Fernald, Met State was built in 1922. I think Met State surpasses Fernald on the gruesome scale for a very basic fact: that adults were seen as hopeless. It was one thing to rehabilitate a child, but an adult with a mental illness was seen as an embarrassment, and even in some cases people believed that mental illness was actually the devil incarnate.
In this way, Met State shares many a common quality with mental hospitals and asylums all across the world. One of the biggest mistakes these institutions made was using the words “ill” and “disabled” synonymously. In hospitals like Met State, especially during a period where psychology was severely undermined and showing little acceptance as a scientific and medical field, patients who were criminally insane were housed communally with people who were born with disabilities such as autism. But because autism being so misunderstood at the time was seen as equally deviant as the criminally insane (often more violent than an autistic patient) they were housed together, creating a calamity of misunderstanding and sub-par living conditions.
As I said, Met State does not differ radically in its characteristics from many other hospitals, but it has a pretty interesting story that makes it just a tad unique.
Patient murder scandal:
In 1978, Metropolitan State patient Anne Marie Davee was murdered by another patient, Melvin W. Wilson. Wilson dismembered Davee’s body and kept seven of her teeth which were discovered in his possession by employees of the hospital. Despite this discovery and its obvious implications, no action was taken against Wilson until Massachusetts State Senator Sen. Jack Backman (D-Brookline) led a Senate investigation into the case along with 19 other reports of negligence by state mental health workers. On August 12, 1980 Wilson led investigators to at least three burial sites where he put pieces of Davee’s body. Much of the material evidence in the case had been destroyed or gone missing. This evidence included a “hut” in the woods where Davee and Wilson met, clothes and even sheets which hospital employees discovered the day after her disappearance. Nearly two months after her murder, another search by hospital staff yielded pieces of Davee’s clothing and belongings along with a hatchet, the supposed murder weapon.
Crazy stuff right? Unfortunately, in 2009, Met State was torn down- shortly after my boyfriend of the time had gotten in with a few of his buddies. Apparently, large, heavy steel doors swung shut in their faces, and one of their friends was “possessed.” While we were dating, he never allowed me to go in because of what he experienced. When we broke up, I had every intention of going, but it was torn down before I got the chance. One building remains standing that belong to Met State and is absolutely impossible to get into.