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Psychiatric Records of 'Arsenic and Old Lace' serial murderer to stay sealed forever, rules court
A disheartening journalism precedent in Connecticut when it comes to obtaining access to historical files. Its Supreme Court, in a split opinion, rejected a request to open the medical records of the state’s most infamous female serial killer, Amy Archer Gilligan, who died more than 50 years ago in a state psychiatric hospital.
Most of you will know Gilligan better from “Arsenic and Old Lace,” the 1941 fictionalized movie about her murders, starring Cary Grant.
A writer, Ron Robillard, working on a book about Gilligan, had argued that the records were relevant since she remains a subject of strong public interest and was a suspect in at least three unsolved murders. The state had originally told Robillard that all the files he wanted had been destroyed long ago, but finally admitted they were “discovered” in a safe at the psychiatric hospital.
Gilligan has no living relatives, greatly reducing the chance that anyone could be hurt by the release of the documents. Still, a majority of the court held that the state’s Freedom of Information Act does not cover medical records linked to a psychiatric facility. In fact, the court ruled the records will remain sealed forever.
As for Robillard, the court decision probably means the end of his book project.