The Susan Polk Case

Undisputed Facts:

1. On October 14, 2002 the body of Dr. Felix Polk was found in the pool house of his home in California. He and his wife Susan were going through a divorce at the time.

2. Felix and his wife, Susan, met when she was 14 years old, in 1972, when Susan's mother began sending her daughter to Felix for therapy for panic attacks.

3.  Felix and Susan were married in 1982 and had three sons: Adam, Eli and Gabriel. At the time of the marriage Felix was 50 and Susan was 24.

4. Susan's first trial for the murder of her husband ended in a mistrial when the wife of her attorney, Daniel Horowitz, was found dead in her home.

5. Susan represented herself in her second trial.  Sons Adam and Gabriel testified for the prosecution, son, Eli, testified for the defense.

6. Susan was convicted of murder and sentenced to 16 years to life.

Disputed Facts:

1. Initially there was a dispute on Susan's guilt or innocence of actually committing the act because she maintained complete innocence (at least to prosecutors) for over a year after her arrest.  It has been claimed that she had informed at least one, if not more, of the many lawyers who worked for her throughout the ordeal.  
2. Since Susan has admitted being at the scene when Felix died her partial defense was that it was self-defense.  I say partial because that is the reason given for the struggle and the stabbings that Felix suffered.  However, it has been argued that Felix did not die from the stab wounds but from a heart attack during the struggle.

3. Many of those who supported Susan claimed that Felix was controlling, abusive and mentally ill and that the circumstances surrounding their relationship starting prove this.  

4. Throughout the trial there were often questions about several incidents that happened within the marriage and whether it was Susan or Felix who was the instigator and the abusive partner.

My Opinion:

I wanted to make sure that I had written about Betty Broderick before doing this case.  I recently read the book "Final Analysis" by Catherine Crier.  When I first started reading the story I often thought of Betty's case.  I did research on the story throughout while reading the book.  As I got further and further into the case I no longer felt so much of a connection with the Broderick case.

Obviously the first difference in the two cases surround the meeting of the couples.  It should be noted that in 1972 when Susan first walked into Felix's office there were no laws against a therapist having a relationship with a patient.  That does not mean that it was not frowned upon, or that his fellow professionals agree, it just simply was not illegal.  Now, yes, there could have been charges pressed if it could have been proven that they had a sexual relationship before she was 16 or it was suspected.  Either it did not occurred until she was 16, or they were very good about hiding it.  Once Susan's mom did know something had been going on she confronted Felix.  She has stated that at the time she thought this was the route to go rather than to police and that Felix promised to stop contact.  If I recall correctly at this time he was technically no longer her therapist.  

At the time the relationship started Felix was married and had a son and a daughter.  It was a few years before his wife became of the affair at which time they separated, however the divorce took several years.  Soon after the separation, after Susan was 18 she lived with Felix for a short time, then went to a community college, living in a dorm, trying to put distance between them, but later returned and they were married after his divorce became final.  Susan claims that not long prior to her first entering his office Felix had attended seminars on hypnosis and used that tactic on her.  She has claimed that is how he was able to gain, and keep control of her.

While there is little, if any dispute in the Broderick case that by the time Betty was done, she was "crazy" just as her ex-husband claimed, most believe she was driven there by her husband.  As I was researching and reading this case I initially wondered the same here.  It was proven that Felix had his own mental issues, including at least one suicide attempt, and in my opinion had absolutely no business being a therapist. However, as I continued to gather information I came to the realization that Susan had always had her own demons too.  The resounding voice in this case is that while Felix had no business treating anyone, let alone Susan, he ultimately never treated her and in turn her own mental issues spiraled out of control.

In the later years of the marriage the police had been called several times.  The divorce was very contentious.  Susan had been the one to file and had looked at some real estate outside the state.  During one of her trips to look at property Felix had gotten a court order giving him the family home and custody of their son Gabriel. It has been argued that this was one of the many things that pushed Susan to the edge.  Susan returned home and there became an issue whether the court order was legal.  For a few nights Felix (with Gabriel following) stayed at a hotel but supposedly due to financial reasons he stayed in the pool house.  I believe it was another case of "I will make her miserable... This is MY house" sort of thing.  He had supposedly told people he feared her, and his lawyer even advised him of things that he should and should not do, to which all he ignored.

One of my biggest problems with this case however is that I waver back and forth on whether I believe she had help or not, at least in the aftermath.  Their son, Gabriel was the only one living at home (Adam was in college and Eli was in a detention camp) and he was the one who found his father's body.  He called the police and from the very get go he through Susan under the bus.  By all accounts from that moment on he wanted nothing more to do with his mother.  The problem I have lie with Felix's car.  It was not at the house when his body was found.  A few days later it was found 3 miles away.  Susan's story is that she took Gabriel to school (to which he did not go a full day) and she then took Felix's car, placed it where it was found and walked home.  I simply have a hard time believing this woman was walking back the three miles to home and that especially she was not seen in the daylight.  I simply have an itch that when it comes to that car she had help.  And, if she had help that means SOMEONE else knew about it... but who? She had a brother, and her mother was still alive but they both claim they had little to no contact with Susan in about 4-5 years.  It was around this time that it is claimed that Susan supposedly had repressed memories of being abused as a child, sexually by her father and brother, and in other ways by her mother.  For the record, they all deny these claims.

Susan had several different lawyers dealing with her case because she kept firing them because they did not do the things that she wanted them to, in essence if she did not have control she did not like them.  Ultimately she decided to represent herself in court. Unlike Ted Bundy when he represented himself in court, the judge in Susan's trial was never likely too tell her she would make a good attorney.  I am not sure even if she had an attorney that they could have gotten a lower conviction, but what I do know is that without one she showed the jury just how "crazy" she was.  

What it all boiled down to in my opinion is that Susan and Felix fed off each others insanity.  In some areas their insanity joined.  They were both very much into the issues of satanic child abuse ritual allegations of the 1980's.  Felix even did seminars on them.  They pranced their son, Adam, around proclaiming he had been a victim of such abuse.  If you know about the cases and time period I am talking about you know that the allegations that whirled around were found to be untrue and ruined a good many lives in the process.  I cannot say specifically what happened to the ones Susan and Felix accused though.  They also seemed to agree in indulging their children.  That is until one of them would get into legal trouble (which they often all did) and then they would throw allegations about the other parent being too soft and allowing the boys to get away with anything.  My opinion is that they raised three disabled boys by falling to their every whim and thinking they deserved more (material things and  respect) than they really did.  Felix and Susan both were people who craved control and the best of everything.  They both believed they were beyond petty laws and what not and raised their children to be the same way.  

Yes, Susan was "crazy" but not by a legal standard.  The long and short of it is she killed her husband and deserves to be in prison for it.  She wanted rid of him, but to have his money.  The funny thing is that she spent over 20 years with him and if she would have waited possibly a few short years more she would have had it, without killing him to get it.  Reports showed that Felix, who was in his 70's when he was murdered, had severe artery blockage to his heart. He was still working many, many hours as a therapist because they were in major debt.  Hell, if his heart wouldn't have killed him, it would have slowed him down, which in turn would have lowered his lifestyle, which he thrived on... he may have even tried, (and succeeded this time) suicide again


  1. Not done with the book yet, but so far I find her to be more afraid of being crazy, then crazy. As a woman who has a strong mental illness family history, and one who struggles with anxiety and depression, I know I am my own worst enemy. The fear of going crazy can play such tricks on my mind, and my fear feeds my own "insane" behaviors or compulsions. But, these behaviors are a struggle to regain control. I am not insane.... I don't think-lol

    I see the same behaviors in Felix, as I did with Dan Broderick. I see Susan as very similar to Betty- an isolated mother of a wealthy man, who, seemingly holds all the power in the relationship. Held over her head is the fear that she is going crazy... or will be made out to be insane to her dwindling number of peers or social contacts. I can relate to these women, and it's a terrible trial to experience.

  2. I agree that the stigma of being crazy can be fearful, but yeah, I think she was crazy long before the end (unlike Betty). One could argue either way it was or wasn't with Felix's help considering he was in her life from the age of 14, so he helped shape her. But as I read and researched I felt less and less a connection between her and Betty. I think she was just as controlling as he was and their relationship was toxic.

  3. If you knew what you were talking about and if you knew my Mother, you would know that if she were going to commit premeditated murder, she would never have done anything like what the prosecution said she did. Very very very little truth came out during the trial and the reality is, whether people know it or not, that my mothers conviction was a complete failure of our criminal justice system to act honorably and justly... A complete miscarriage of justice. The truth is nobody was really even interested in finding out the truth, what I saw was a lot of dirty tactics aimed at a women who was and will remain a victim at the hands of my father and the system that was supposed to protect her for the rest of her life. And then you have books written by people who have absolutely no clue as to who my Mom is and readers just eating it up. Human ignorance/stupidity is boundless. This was one big sick joke. Shame on our criminal justice system and those who would seek to manipulate it to destroy lives without care for the real victim and victims family.

    1. Is this Eli? Is there a way I could reach your mom? I was in a relationship with theel foundation like your mother and unike your mother I got out. I experienced similar feelings and just want to reach out to her because her story saved my life. My utmost emapthy and compassion to you and your family and I pray you find healing.

  4. Please, tell us... I AM interested in the real story. As I said many times I often felt a connection with the Broderick case in this and if you were to read my blog on that one you will see that when it came to that case it is one of the few that I feel absolutely no sympathy for the victims as I feel he DROVE her to kill him. I felt this way in your mothers case for some time while trying to research the story.

    The only way the true story can come out is for it to be told! Being one of her sons you would have first hand knowledge obviously. Can I make an assumption that you are Eli?

    My perception is that yes, your mother had issues as a teenager and your grandmother did what she should have done... she went and got her help, or at least thought she was. The problem lies with the fact that your father should have NEVER been a therapist. He had too many of his own issues that were not dealt with and had no business even attempting to be "helping" others with theirs. In the process your mother went not only untreated but they likely manifested due to not only his LACK of treatment but his manipulation.

    Are you saying that your mother did not kill your father? Are you saying she deserved NO jail time?? Do I believe that your mother was driven to kill? I would have to say yes but that does not mean that she did not deserve time in jail. Was her sentencing fair? Without all the true details no one can say. You however CAN be her voice.

    1. I'll definitely be writing a book in the future. Under the law (specifically state of mind) my Mother is indeed innocent of Murder.

      I'll never forget Adam coming by the house in Orinda after my Mother was finally afforded the option to bail out (after almost 2 years of being denied bail-unheard of in a case like hers) pending trial and telling her that "if you don't give me your irrevocable POA my testimony might change."

      Statements like that really exposed the forces at work behind the scenes, in court, within the legal community itself, the psychological community (of which my father was directly involved), etc.

      My Mother was referred to my Father by a counselor at SR HS for truancy.... Early on school bored her. She found reading the dictionary front to back more beneficial, just one the many qualities my Mom possessed that obviously didn't go unnoticed by my Father.

      My Grandmother regrets the fact that she failed to act upon finding out that my Father was grossly overstepping boundaries beginning at age 14.

      Detective Costa said that if my Mom had only said she acted in self defense the night of the incident (she was in a severe state of shock) the charge would never have been filed. Barry Morris (an attorney in the community & my fathers long time patient & a sick sick man to boot) rushed over to the house immediately and did absolutely everything he could to set things in motion. If Barry had known the disgusting things my Father had to say about him around the dinner table maybe he wouldn't have been so quick to slam my Mom.

      I have no issue explaining things to people. I've been on FB for years...

      It's so easy to kick people when they're down. It's in my nature to help defend those people.

  5. Susan Polk and her kids rented a fully furnished 4 bedroom home from us here in Montana for two to three months. More story to tell

    1. You have no story to tell.

  6. To one of the Polk boys which ever one you are ELi or Gabe all three of you boys all you did was fight over money and other things and you still do to this day. You cant blame this all on the system everyone knows that you guys are not saints.

    1. You have no idea what you're talking about...

    2. My brothers sued "me" and our Mother for money. I refused to take part at any level and never received one single penny from the prosecution and subsequent 2nd degree murder conviction. They can't say the same... The civil suit was also filed before the trial (highly unusual) as part of a tactic to lock down my brothers testimony.

    3. Just finished reading final analysis. I'm sorry that you and your family went through this. But I admire you for supporting your mother to the end while you would've to deal with your own problems. I wish you and your mom the best.

  7. Diana YasharNovember 11, 2016 at 9:54 AM
    Just finished reading final analysis. I'm sorry that you and your family went through this. But I admire you for supporting your mother to the end while you would've to deal with your own problems. I wish you and your mom the best.



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