Monday, February 21, 2005

Drugs seen as dentist's undoing

The Dallas News (registration required) has this tragic story of a dentist and drug addiction:

Friends tell of descent from dynamo in school to gaunt suspect in jail

07:56 AM CST on Monday, February 21, 2005

By MATT STILES / The Dallas Morning News

The contrast in Jill Reitmeyer's two photographs is striking.

A lively, well-coiffed dentistry school graduate smiling a decade ago for her college yearbook – compared with a gaunt, disheveled inmate staring blankly in a December jail mug shot.

They capture a once beautiful and successful Dallas dentist who spiraled downward in recent years – to a life haunted by addictions, neglected patients and charges that she illegally sold narcotics prescriptions from her home.

Jill Reitmeyer's jail mug shot (right) shows how much she's changed from her days at Baylor College of Dentistry, where she graduated in 1995.

"I want to sit down and cry. It's just such a waste," said Mary Lou Anders, a friend and former employee. "That woman had so much potential, so much to give. I cannot understand why someone would go from where she was to this."

Once, Dr. Reitmeyer, 43, owned a $280,000 home near Love Field. She appeared healthy. Had a bustling Lemmon Avenue dentistry practice. Raised prize show dogs.

Today, all that's gone.

A Dallas County grand jury indicted her in December on four felony charges. She's accused of selling fraudulent prescriptions to an undercover police officer, as authorities suspect she did with numerous people. They also say the Baylor College of Dentistry graduate practiced without a license.

From jail, Dr. Reitmeyer declined an interview. Her attorneys didn't return calls.

Court documents and interviews tell the tale of a professional, vibrant woman who wasted away, losing everything. What neither the court papers nor her friends can answer is why. Some think a teenage addiction resurfaced, while others wonder whether an illness caused depression.

"It's a shock and bewilderment to everyone who's ever known her," Ms. Anders said.

Those who lived around Dr. Reitmeyer on hilly Labron Avenue – a quiet area but for the periodic roar of airliners overhead – knew something was wrong.

They'd seen their neighbor change since 2002. She lost weight, began acting strangely.

The immaculate flowerbeds around her brick home – with its Sub-Zero refrigerator and hardwood flooring – grew unkempt.

The neighbors' worry grew when the flood of traffic to the home began. People came at all hours. Some flashed headlights to get Dr. Reitmeyer's attention.

Neighbors saw her or her one-time romantic partner, Stephanie Scarth, making hand-to-hand transactions in the driveway, court records show.

"We just didn't know what to do," said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified. "It was just really, really getting annoying,"

They started taking pictures, documenting license plates.

Suspecting drug sales, they complained to police.

A decade earlier, Dr. Reitmeyer was an attractive, smart and friendly dentistry student, former college classmates said.

They recall that while she was older than many graduates – age 34 for her doctorate in dental surgery – she was also more lively. She made them laugh.

At senior skits, Dr. Reitmeyer arranged several ultraviolet dental lights like a tanning bed. Then she came out in a bikini.

Baylor College of Dentistry
Baylor College of Dentistry
A picture from Jill Reitmeyer's 1995 college yearbook shows her grinning after a test. Her former classmates describe her as an attractive, smart and friendly student.

"She was really always high-spirited," said William Roper, a Dallas dentist and a fellow 1995 graduate. "She was pretty fun, always wore a smile."

The student yearbook shows Dr. Reitmeyer posing in an honor society. Another picture shows her in medical scrubs, grinning after a test. She looked fit, tan – happy.

The alumni office, helping plan a 10-year reunion, recently mailed RSVP requests to Dr. Reitmeyer's class. She never responded.

Around the time police got complaints from neighbors, Dr. Reitmeyer left her practice after erratic behavior and a dispute with her business partner.

She had for years shared the office – in a Lemmon Avenue strip mall – with Dr. Troy Carmichael. He asked her to leave.

Ms. Anders, a former hygienist, said Dr. Reitmeyer started missing work. Her patients suffered.

The state dental board began an investigation and was receiving complaints.

Some patients paid for work that had to be finished elsewhere. Another needed work redone.

Roger Reeves went to Dr. Reitmeyer a year ago to have a bridge replaced and a tooth capped. After preparation, she told him she'd finish later.

Months went by, and nothing happened, Mr. Reeves said.

The dentist he once adored left him "walking around like a Halloween jack-o'-lantern."

It wasn't always this way.

Jane Bishkin, a Dallas lawyer who went to Dr. Reitmeyer from 1997 until 2000, remembers her as professional and attentive. She cracked jokes with patients, made them comfortable. She wore a white medical coat, her name proudly embroidered on the front.


These agencies offer help with addiction:

Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse: 214-522-8600 or

Texas Department of State Health Services: 1-877-9-NODRUG or

"She seemed like someone who had everything going for her," Ms. Bishkin said.

Dr. Reitmeyer had once before left the practice, in 2003, reportedly to get help for alcohol and crack cocaine abuse. It was there she met Ms. Scarth.

Most suspected a relapse.

Ms. Anders recalls when the pair raised one of Dr. Reitmeyer's beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniels together.

Until a recent jail visit, she hadn't seen Dr. Reitmeyer in months, since driving her to a flight for her father's funeral.

Flat broke, a thin Dr. Reitmeyer had borrowed $60. She then asked Ms. Anders to deliver $20 to Ms. Scarth, who abandoned a husband, two young boys and an $800,000 Plano home to live with Dr. Reitmeyer.

Dr. Carmichael, too, fondly remembers better times. Now he's tired of the ordeal.

"I just want it to go away," he said, declining to discuss the end of their partnership.

By late April, Dr. Carmichael told police he suspected Dr. Reitmeyer had stolen checks from his office.

Dr. Reitmeyer had financial troubles. In May, she unsuccessfully filed for bankruptcy for the third time in 12 months. A trustee called her filings "an arguable fraud."

The same month, narcotics detectives got a complaint from a pharmacy asked to fill a prescription signed by Dr. Reitmeyer. An employee noticed that the dentist's federal drug license was expired.

Another request signed by Dr. Reitmeyer came a day earlier. It was for promethazine with codeine – a cold and cough drug usually dispensed by a medical doctor – and Xanax, an anxiety medication.

Prescriptions appeared on Dr. Carmichael's stationery, but his telephone number had been scratched out, replaced by Dr. Reitmeyer's home line.

The woman trying to buy the drugs told police that Dr. Reitmeyer, working from a computer next to her kitchen sink, authorized the drugs when the woman claimed to have an abscessed tooth.

Other pharmacies reported suspicions, too.

Promethazine with codeine is often abused as a street drug, so police suspected Dr. Reitmeyer was selling the prescriptions to pay for her own habit.

Undercover detective Bonita Morgan knocked on Dr. Reitmeyer's door July 15. She told Ms. Scarth that a friend sent her.

Once inside, the detective filled out a patient form. There were no signs of dentistry equipment.

The detective then saw Dr. Reitmeyer in a back room with a syringe, "possibly shooting up," records show.

Dr. Reitmeyer then emerged, wearing rubber gloves, and looked into the detective's mouth. Without probing further, she diagnosed an infected tooth.

She prescribed an antibiotic – and the suspicious promethazine with codeine. The price: $50.

The detective, who had no tooth condition, left $60 because Dr. Reitmeyer couldn't make change.

The police returned in September, after Dr. Reitmeyer's license expired, to buy $100 more.

The detective noticed a glass "crack pipe" on a living-room table, records show.

Dr. Reitmeyer sold her $200 worth of drugs a month later.

In mid-November, detectives raided the home. They seized numerous items, including patient files, sample pill packets, crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia.

Dr. Reitmeyer lost the house to foreclosure about this time. Police reports and neighbors describe a bizarre scene inside: clothes left behind, filthy conditions and a large hole sliced into the master bedroom floor.

Jill Reitmeyer lost her $280,000 home on Labron Avenue near Love Field to foreclosure.

Soon, few knew Dr. Reitmeyer's whereabouts. The new owner found $15,000 in damage at the home – including strange symbols and slogans painted in cabinets and on walls.

One read, "All ways and always."

The four felony indictments followed in December.

Dr. Reitmeyer was on the run more than a month after a judge ruled $1,500 bail was too low.

Last month, sheriff's deputies arrested her at the Candlewood Suites on Interstate 35E north of Mockingbird Lane.

Ms. Scarth – who hasn't been charged with a crime – was still there two days later, seen digging around the driver's side floorboard of Dr. Reitmeyer's Ford Explorer.

She looked tired. Her skin was blotchy, her hair greasy and her nails dirty. She wore a CIA cap and was dressed in designer, if slightly dirty, clothes.

She said she believed Sen. John McCain was communicating with her from a television. She questioned whether the world was round and said she saw angels and demons – some of which once rose from Dr. Reitmeyer's prized spaniels.

They are no longer romantic but remain close, she said, and both miss the home on Labron Avenue.

"That back yard of hers is a modern-day Garden of Eden," she said, her hands trembling.

She worries about Dr. Reitmeyer, who remains in jail, unable to post her $20,000 bond. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

No trial date has been set.

Asked why her friend's practice fell apart, Ms. Scarth replied, "She just gave up."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:15 PM

    does anyone know what happened to jill? I knew her from dalls