Fairfax County police are investigating the apparent murder of a northern Virginia psychiatrist at the hands of one of his patients.
Police were called to Dr. Mark Lawrence's home, in the 8600 block of Tebbs Lane in McLean, about 4:15 p.m. Friday after a report of gunshots. When they arrived, they found two bodies.
One of the deceased is the 71-year-old psychiatrist, who had run his practice out of his home. The other was identified as a 62-year-old Barbara Newman, of Vienna, who had been one of the man’s patients.
Police said they believe the woman shot the psychiatrist, and then turned the gun on herself.
Lawrence had been a mentor to hundreds of area therapists, his colleagues said Saturday. He was semi-retired and focused on training other therapists while he continued to see some patients at his home office, said Dr. Cynthia Margolies, a colleague of his at the Center for Healing and Imagery, which Lawrence co-founded in 1984 and where he had taught since.
“He was an incredibly kind, generous person, with a huge heart,” Margolies told The Associated Press. “He was very dedicated to both his patients and he trained and was a mentor to many, many therapists locally.''
Lawrence trained at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. He had also served on the psychiatric faculties of Georgetown University Medical School and St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
Margolies said Lawrence started working in the Washington area in the early 1970s. He served as a group therapist and was skilled at working with disturbed people, she said.
“He was both brilliant and compassionate, a pretty unique combination,” she said.
Margolies said many therapists sought out Lawrence when they were at an impasse with patients.
“There are a lot of people today who are deeply affected by this,” Margolies said. “I have heard from lots of therapists who are grieving ... It's a major loss for the community.”
Susan Drobis, a clinic social worker at the center, said she was stunned by the news of Lawrence's death.
“I don't quite believe it,” she said Saturday night by phone.
Drobis said she knew Lawrence for more than 25 years, and that he trained her before he became a colleague who co-taught courses with her. She said Lawrence “trained hundreds of therapists and people have enormous respect for him.”
She described him as “very down-to-earth, warm,” with a great sense of humor and a way of connecting people with their strengths.
“He was really committed to the work that he did, which was the work of healing people and helping people,” Drobis said.
In addition to his wife, Lawrence is survived by a daughter and grandson.