Friend describes doctor as troubled soul

Dr. Karen Diamond was a brilliant doctor and a good person with a soft heart, but beneath her tough exterior was a soul suffering from depression so severe she believed there was no way out, a close friend says.

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies found Karen Diamond, 47, and her mother, Eula Diamond, 84, shot to death Monday afternoon at their home on 7812 Willow Grove Blvd., in an apparent murder-suicide.

Deputies believe Karen Diamond killed her mother with a .40-caliber handgun, shot the family chihuahua, then turned the gun on herself.

Col. Lawrence McLeary, of the Sheriff’s Office, said Tuesday they were trying to determine whether she obtained the gun legally. They have not yet determined if she had a concealed-carry permit, but gun owners are not required to obtain such permits.

McLeary said they did not find a note, but she did leave financial records laid out on a table for family members.

“Each case is different,” he said. “Some people leave a note, some people leave their financial statements out so that you can see what kind of financial struggle they are having.

“Others, they just won’t leave anything.”

Dr. Alan Bowers, who had known Karen Diamond since the two attended LSU Medical School in Shreveport more than 20 years ago, said he knew his friend was suffering but never in his worst nightmares thought her story would end this way.

Bowers, a doctor of internal medicine in Marrero, called Diamond “a very troubled spirit” who suffered from depression.

“I think she was not able to recognize all the people that she had around her that loved her and wanted to help her,” Bowers said.

“She didn’t like to open herself up to people because I think in her mind it was a sign of weakness and she liked to present this very strong, tough outer image. But she really had a soft heart.”

Bowers said he wishes he could have done more to help his good friend with her demons.

“It is the most helpless feeling when you can’t stop it, when you can’t do anything about it,” he said.

Bowers said they drifted apart during a 10-year period when she lived in New York after graduating from medical school.

While working in New York, her medical license was suspended for six months for writing prescriptions for herself, according to online records.

Bowers said he’s confident drugs had nothing to do with what happened.

He said he never saw her drink alcohol after the incident in New York and, to his knowledge, she never failed a drug test since leaving that city.

He said she taught at the LSU Medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport following her work in New York, before taking a job in Baton Rouge last year.

Bowers said he thinks Diamond’s depression intensified after her father, Delos Diamond, died while she was in medical school.

She was an only child and her father was her world, Bowers said.

Then it possibly worsened again earlier this year when Diamond was forced to put her mother in a nursing home so she could receive physical therapy after breaking a bone in her arm.

Bowers said Diamond had promised her mother she would never put her in a nursing home but that’s where she had to go for physical therapy.

Surgery was not an option because of Eula Diamond’s age.

Bowers said having to break the promise really hurt Karen Diamond, but she visited her mother daily during the six months Eula Diamond spent in the nursing home.

Diamond last worked in July as a gastroenterologist for General Health Systems. Maryann Rowland, a spokeswoman for General Health Systems, said she could not divulge why the doctor left the company.

Bowers said he just learned recently Diamond had stopped working and did not know the reasons why.

Then on Saturday, at 4:47 p.m., Bowers said, Diamond posted a quote on Facebook from the poet Allen Ginsberg that captured her feeling of reaching a dead end, being tired and feeling there was nothing else she could do.

Then two minutes later, she emailed the same quote with a line underneath saying, “I’m sorry” to a close group of five friends.

Bowers said he did not see the email for nearly two days, until he began receiving text messages and calls Monday about the Facebook post and email.

He said Diamond had made similar posts in the past when she was really depressed or upset but usually would be fine and back to normal after one or two days. He said that cycle was common.

“But then, when I read it in email form a day and a half later and I saw the five people that she sent it to, I just had a really sick feeling inside that this time was different,” Bowers said.

A friend in Shreveport called to ask the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office to check on her. That was when they all learned the grisly truth about what happened to Karen, Eula and the dog.

Although the bodies were discovered on Monday, authorities have not said when they believe the shooting occurred.

Bowers said he believes that Diamond decided to end the lives of her mother and their beloved pet so they would not be left behind to suffer without her there to care for them.

“I’m sure in a very twisted kind of way, that’s how she felt …,” Bowers said.

Advocate staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this article.

Editor’s note: This story was modified on Oct. 23, 2013, to more fully explain that the sheriff’s office was trying to find if Karen Diamond had a concealed-carry permit for the gun in order to determine the origin of the weapon.