In early 1994, Janice Trahan visited her doctor when she began to feel sic*k. They initially told her it was sinuses, although the pain and symptoms never disappeared. After visiting several doctors, Janice learned she was pregnant. Even scarier, she also learned she was HIV positive and had hepatitis.
Janice worked as a nurse at a Lafayette, LA, hospital. Did she contract the virus from one of her patients? Could she have contracted it from a former lover? Dr. Richard Schmidt, Janice’s doctor at the time, offered his opinion about how his patient contracted the deadly disease: She was a slut who slept around with a lot of men. He claimed she frequented bars and went home with strange men.
Faced with a difficult decision, Janice decided to end her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Janice had her own theory about how she contracted HIV: Dr. Richard Schmidt had infected her with the virus. Although an incredible story, Lafayette police decided to investigate her story.
The Love Affair Between Dr. Schmidt and Janice
Dr. Schmidt and Janice had been having an affair for several years, and she confessed to the police. She was married and a mother; Richard was a married father. Yet, Janice’s attraction to the prestigious doctor was strong and the two began an affair.
Richard promised to leave his wife and children for Janic. She believed his every word and divorced her husband for the doctor. Months passed, and Richard never left his wife. Janice continued their affair after trying to end it many times. Once, Janice went on a date with another man and Richard went to his home and threatened to k*ill the man.
Richard threatened to post nude photos of her on the bulletin board at work. He threatened to tell the Dean at her school she had plagiarized work. And he threatened to k*ill her and make it so no man would want her.
A Baby is Born and Janice is Fed Up
Janice feared for her life, so allowed the affair to continue. In 1991, Janice gave birth to Richard’s daughter. He paid child support and continued to promise he would leave his wife. He never left, always giving Janice one exercise after another.
Finally fed up with the relationship, Janice gave Richard an ultimatum. When he still did not leave his wife, she finally ended their affair. She also stopped using Dr. Schmidt as her doctor.
The Doctor Did It
He had been treating Janice with Vitamin B shots for months. On the evening of August 4, Dr. Schmidt called Janice around 10 pm. He told her he was coming over for an urgent matter. When he arrived, Dr. Schmidt immediately injected her with a needle. The injection was painful. He left right away after giving her the shot.
Janice told police she now believed that the injection was the HIV She believed her lover-doctor had injected her with HIV.
As investigators checked out her story, they learned she had donated blood a few weeks before that evening. The blood was HIV-negative. But that still didn’t prove Dr. Schmidt had injected her with HIV.
Police Investigate Janice’s Story
After checking the doctor’s telephone records, investigators learned that he had called Janice on the night of August 4. Obtaining HIV-tainted blood is not the easiest thing to do, so now investigators were left to wonder how he could get his hands on a vial of tainted blood. Plus, HIV-tainted blood only survives about 12 hours outside the body
Looking through Dr. Schmdit’s patient records, they found a box marked 1982. Hidden deep inside the box, they found the August 4, 1994, records. They noticed notations showing two patients who had bloodwork done- but there was no sticker beside their names, meaning that these two blood samples had never been sent to the lab.
They contacted one of the patients whose sticker was missing and learned he had full-blown AIDS. They also learned that Dr. Schmidt had called him to come in for an urgent appointment on August 4, 1994.
Dr. Schmidt Charged With Attempted Mu*rder
Although police were skeptical of Janice’s story, it now seemed more plausible. It took time, but investigators eventually determined the patient’s blood missing from the record book was the same blood that had infected Janice.
Investigators learned the second vial with the missing sticker contained the hepatitis-infected blood used to infect Janet on that fatal day. Dr. Schmdit had made sure the blood was still within its 12-hour potency timeframe by taking blood drawn at his clinic on August 4.
Although Richard had an alibi for the evening -he spent the night home with his wife -he slipped away for about 20 minutes while she bathed. That’s when he injected Janice with the virus.
Richard was charged with attempted mur*der and convicted in 1998. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was denied parole in 2005 and died in February 2023 at age 74.