February 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Missing Kalamazoo doctor mystery grows; tweets show she doubted sanity

Kalamazoo— Dr. Teleka Patrick could hardly sleep or eat last year. She cried every day.

Between patients, she feverishly tweeted about a Grammy-nominated gospel singer she never met who God told her she would marry.

And then she disappeared.

Patrick, 30, a psychiatric intern at Kalamazoo’s Borgess Medical Center, hasn’t been seen since Dec. 5. Police say they have little to go on. A few leads have led nowhere.

Clues in the mystery may lie in Patrick’s voluminous Twitter accounts during the eight months before her disappearance.

Her 20,000 tweets describe how she wrestled with hallucinations for a decade and how they had grown worse the past year.

Since April, she continually tweeted about gospel singer Marvin Sapp, describing how they communicated through telepathy as she imagined him speaking, feeling emotions and kissing her.

In September she doubted her sanity.

“My mind melted,” she tweeted about an earlier psychotic episode. “Everything went haywire. Signals got crossed and my mind started telling me that everything is a lie and I’m crazy.”

Police said Patrick has never been diagnosed with a mental illness but she wrote about receiving therapy and taking Invega, a drug used for schizophrenia.

Her two siblings and ex-husband were alarmed by her behavior, according to interviews and social media comments by Patrick and her brother.

When her ex-husband, Smiley Calderon of Orange, Calif., pushed her to see a psychiatrist after she experienced delusions in 2009, she divorced him, he said recently. She was worried a mental illness diagnosis would derail her medical career.

“I begged her to get help,” he said. “She didn’t want to be branded.”

Most of the time, she appeared normal to people. Hospital officials said they never saw any signs of mental instability.

Her parents, Mattahais and Irene Patrick of Kissimmee, Fla., also were unaware of any problems.

After 11 weeks without a word from her, they just want their daughter back and are offering a $25,000 reward.

It’s a mother’s worst nightmare, Irene said.

“It’s frustrating. I don’t know what to do,” she said. “There’s no word in the dictionary for how I feel.”

Her daughter’s life wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.

Brainy and garrulous, Patrick has a medical degree and doctorate in biochemistry. She has a bachelor’s in theology and was a class shy of a fourth degree in biology, friends said.

She was so focused on her studies she had little time for dating or socializing, said Chris Thompson, who met her when they were undergraduate students at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala.

“She was a beast of a student,” he said. “When it came to class and getting her work done, she was an animal.”

Despite her hyper drive, she retained a childlike innocence that drew people to her, he said.

It was at Oakwood where Patrick, under stress from her heavy workload, had her first psychotic episode, she wrote on Twitter.

A devout daughter of a Seventh-day Adventist minister, she began to hear God’s voice during her daily reading of the Bible.

At first she wasn’t concerned, she wrote. Her faith teaches members to seek God’s word. But then she heard two voices and they began to argue.

She was alarmed until she watched “A Beautiful Mind” on TV, she wrote. The movie depicts a brilliant mathematician who overcomes schizophrenia without medical help.

She felt she could do the same and came to see her condition as a gift. It allowed her to operate in two worlds, the real and the supernatural.

“I realized that my mind was a gift,” she tweeted in July. “It was a way that I was like God. No limits. No boundaries. Anything is possible.”

Pleas for singer Sapp

In December 2012, God came to Patrick and told her Sapp would be her husband, she wrote on Twitter.

Her divorce from Calderon had been finalized earlier that year.

Attending Loma Linda University in California, she eventually began sending Sapp numerous Twitter and Facebook messages that included photos, videos, poems and Bible verses.

Most of the 20,000 Twitter messages are directed to the gospel singer with Patrick’s mood shifting from flirtatious to anger to pleading to jealousy.

“Can you call me?” she tweeted in May. “Please? ... Make me real? ... Please make me real.”

Reading the tweets is like listening to one side of a phone conversation, but no one was on the other end.

Sapp declined to be interviewed for this story but has told police he never responded to the messages and has never met Patrick.

In the tweets, Patrick frequently worried how all her writing, and the lack of a response from Sapp, could threaten her fledgling career by making her look unstable.

The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on her.

“I can’t be believing things that aren’t true,” she tweeted in August. “I’m trying to become a psychiatrist, not be in need of one.”

To protect herself, she wrote the tweets under several pseudonyms, including “figment,” and often deleted the messages right after posting them.

But the deleted tweets came to light last month after they were retrieved by Websleuths, an online crime forum.

Surprise decision

After graduating from Loma Linda last year, Patrick decided to serve her residency at Borgess Medical Center, which is affiliated with Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

The decision surprised her teachers and family, they said. She had interviewed with and planned to attend Harvard, Yale or Johns Hopkins.

The reason for the decision surprised people even more.

She told her brother and sister God had spoken to her and said he was sending her to Michigan to be close to Sapp, who is pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center church in Grand Rapids.

Her sister, Tenesha, told her it was stupid to presume a relationship with a man to whom she had never spoken, Patrick said in a tweet.

“They both think I am insane for relocating w/o any direct contact,” she tweeted in May.

Her brother, Eddie, said Wednesday he was worried about her behavior but didn’t think she needed medical help.

He said his sister’s pursuit of Sapp against all odds required a leap of faith that reflected her deep spirituality.

“It was a little absurd, a little weird,” he said. “But some of it can be looked upon as having a great deal of faith.”

Teleka Patrick moved to Kalamazoo in June and joined Sapp’s church in July. Two months later, Sapp accused Patrick of stalking him and sought a personal protection order against her.

In an affidavit attached to the request, Sapp said Patrick had sent him 400 pages of inappropriate emails and photos, showed up at his home and continuously tried to talk to his three teenaged children.

Sapp, whose wife died in 2010, wrote he didn’t view Patrick as a problem until she moved to Michigan.

“I travel the world and I need to insure that when I’m home or away my teenage children are covered,” he said in the affidavit.

After receiving the protection order in September, Patrick became depressed, she wrote on Twitter. She couldn’t sleep, eat or focus on her work. She said she felt suicidal.

'Demons' blamed

Patrick’s tweets then turned dark.

She said Sapp had deceived her and the protection order was full of lies.

She accused the minister of doing heinous things to his children and using a demon to contact her.

“You reach me through a demonic portal,” she tweeted Dec. 4, the day before she disappeared. “That gives demons power over me.”

Patrick told friends she felt unsafe and, after getting off work the next day, took several actions that seemed like she wanted to cover her tracks, police said.

She tried to check into a downtown Kalamazoo hotel instead of going home a few miles away.

She had a friend drive her to the Radisson instead of taking her own car, police said. She tried to use cash instead of her credit cards.

Patrick, wearing a black pea coat with the hood pulled over her head, didn’t have enough money to get a room so a hotel courtesy van drove her back to the hospital, police said.

She got into her car, drove out of the parking lot and, two hours later, the gold 1997 Lexus was discovered abandoned with a flat tire 110 miles away along I-94 in Porter, Ind.

There was no trace of Patrick.

Police believe she got a ride from someone driving along the highway. What happened after that they have no idea.

“It’s anyone’s guess at this point,” said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller.

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com
(313) 223-4186

Surveillance video captured Dr. Teleka Patrick before she disappeared.