STAMFORD, Conn. -- Investigators believe that a Connecticut woman who was fatally shot by police Thursday after a car chase from the White House to the Capitol had grappled with mental illness and may have believed that she was surreptitiously being monitored by President Barack Obama.
Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist living in Stamford, Conn., "may have thought President Obama was stalking her" when she steered her black Infiniti, with her 1-year-old daughter sitting in the back, onto some of the nation's most highly guarded territory, according to a law enforcement official.
Ms. Carey had been diagnosed as having postpartum depression with psychosis, her sister Amy Carey-Jones said in an interview Friday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°," and had been treated with counseling and medication, but was reducing her use of medication under a doctor's supervision. Ms. Carey-Jones said her sister "didn't appear to be unstable."
"We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died," her sister told Mr. Cooper. "We can only speculate, and our real concern is why and were things done properly? Was there some other way that she could have been helped, so that it didn't end tragically?"
House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the investigation has uncovered "a picture of a mentally disturbed woman." Miriam Carey had been treated for schizophrenia, he said, but two of her sisters disputed his characterization.
Mr. McCaul said her condition may have been exacerbated by a recent head injury, and that her boyfriend had called police to say she believed that her apartment was bugged, and that Mr. Obama was behind it. But Ms. Carey's sisters said in their CNN interview that they had never heard her say anything of that nature. Valarie Carey called the boyfriend's account "very questionable."
For now, the biggest mystery is whether the incident that spun out 265 miles from Ms. Carey's home was the culmination of a long, downward spiral or was sparked by some precipitating event.
Ms. Carey's mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News that her daughter had not shown any violence in the past. She said she thought Miriam Carey was taking her toddler to a doctor's appointment in Connecticut on Thursday.
Authorities are trying to trace Ms. Carey's movements in Connecticut and Washington, where she apparently arrived only shortly before she approached a White House entrance and drove her car into a metal barricade shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, then struck a uniformed Secret Service officer.
After speeding down Pennsylvania Avenue, she crashed at the Capitol grounds. Police scurried to carry the child to safety after her mother was shot several times.
In the New York City suburb of Stamford, about 100 law enforcement personnel from the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, Connecticut State Police and Stamford police searched Ms. Carey's apartment in the Woodside Green complex overnight Thursday. They removed boxes, bags and at least one computer from the sprawling complex where a neighbor had seen Ms. Carey wheeling her daughter in a stroller.
In the end, they found just a "typical" first-floor two-bedroom apartment with "nothing out of the ordinary," said Stamford police Chief Jonathan Fontneau, and allowed evacuated residents to return to their units.
Until Thursday, the police chief said, Ms. Carey, too, "was nothing out of the ordinary that would draw attention to herself."
People interviewed in the area Friday said they were still digesting the news that the woman at the center of the U.S. Capitol shooting was from their neighborhood.
Ms. Carey's death also reverberated throughout several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, home to sisters Amy and Valarie, their mother and other relatives.
Freddy Perera, 71, a retired salesman who lives next door to the home of Valarie Carey on Marion Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, said, "There ain't nothing wrong with them; they're OK people."