AUGUSTA — As the murder trial of Harold Pulsifer III entered its second day Tuesday, nurses who knew victim Wrendy Hayne painted a portrait of a deeply troubled woman who also had generous and funny sides.
“She was very childlike at times,” Libby Furrow, a nurse who helped care for Hayne for five years at the Augusta Mental Health Institute, testified at Pulsifer’s nonjury trial.
But on other occasions, Hayne, who suffered from schizophrenia and frequently experienced delusions, became so disturbed and angry she assaulted staff members.
Hayne seemed to become agitated after seeing Pulsifer, a fellow AMHI patient with whom she also developed a romantic relationship, according to testimony in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Furrow and Nurse Joni Santulli, who also worked in Hayne’s ward at the hospital, said they eventually had to restrict Pulsifer from the building because he was mistreating Hayne, monopolizing her time and keeping her from attending group therapy meetings.
“I observed him yelling at her. I observed him threatening her. I observed him following her. I heard him tell her not to listen to what the staff told her to do,” said Santulli.
She told him to keep away, but “I’d find him outside the building hiding,” said Santulli. She said Pulsifer, who also was known at AMHI as Peter, often resisted her orders, telling her that Wrendy would come to see him.
At one point, he “waved a twenty-dollar bill in my face and said, `She’ll come for this,”‘ said Santulli. Nurses testified at length on how they kept track of Pulsifer’s movements in what became known as “the stalking book.”
Pulsifer, 41, who was voluntarily admitted at AMHI, has pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity. But he cannot use the insanity defense unless he agrees to be examined by a state psychiatrist.
He was arrested in blood-soaked clothes after Hayne’s body was found in an AMHI storage room on April 6, 1996. Maine’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry Ryan, testified that she bled to death after being stabbed several times.
Pulsifer told reporters after his arrest that he had killed Hayne because he feared her mother and the hospital staff would end their romance.
Pulsifer, whose hair drooped to his shoulders, occasionally took notes and chatted with his lawyers during testimony. He wore the light-blue, two-piece garb issued by Kennebec County Jail, where he is being held.
Pulsifer, who frequently carried a cardboard box around AMHI for the empty soda cans he collected, bought Hayne gifts of candy, soda and cigarettes, and sometimes gave her money, before he became possessive and verbally abusive, according to testimony.
Hayne also like to buy presents for Pulsifer and others, said Furrow.
“She was a very generous person,” said Furrow, adding that Hayne sometimes brought back gifts for other patients after attending beano games.
While at times she was childlike and sought advice from the staff on small matters, Hayne was sometimes independent and liked to hitchhike places, according to testimony. She usually slept late and stayed up late.
Furrow said Hayne also could be funny at times, despite her serious illness and delusions.