HIGH POINT — Born just weeks apart, cousins Crystal Montague and Kris Roberson grew up in High Point together like best friends — or as Roberson put it, “played together, done all the cousin stuff together, got in trouble together.”
And now they are health care entrepreneurs together.
This past spring they opened Mindful Innovations in the Mendenall office park in north High Point, combining Montague’s work as a family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with Roberson’s as a family nurse practitioner. It is the first woman-owned and Black-owned practice in High Point that offers both mental health and primary care services under the same roof.
Montague said the idea for the practice evolved out of discussions during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic about offering mobile services. As pandemic restrictions eased, they talked more about opening an office in High Point, where they saw in particular a gap in mental health services.
Montague said that over the coming year they hope to expand services to Randolph County, where currently there are not any similar services.
“We have a couple of clinics in Randolph already asking us to provide service,” she said.
Though Mindful Innovations opened in late March, it held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Thursday with city officials and representatives of Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce.
Montague hopes in five years Mindful Innovations will have grown enough to move to a larger space.
Roberson said she was attracted to the idea of being able to work to improve the overall health of underserved populations.
“For me, it’s about bringing about positive change,” she said, including making sure patients’ mental health and physical health needs are not treated in isolation. “We’re so used to operating in silos.”
But Roberson, who also teaches graduate-level nursing classes at Winston-Salem State University, said the engine that drove the two to opening their own practice was Montague.
“This is more or less Crystal’s idea,” she said. “This is Big Cousin taking the lead.”
Montague said that after working eight years in a busy psychiatric practice in Greensboro, she felt a need to move into something that allowed her to spend more time with each patient — and more time for herself.
“I (also) want to be able to establish a legacy in the community” and become a positive role model for others growing up in High Point, she said.
When a High Point woman’s throat was slashed during the summer of 1936, some observers called it one of the strangest murder cases they’d ever seen — not because of the slaying itself, but because of what happened to the alleged killer after he was arrested.
According to newspaper accounts, Arthur Boggs was overcome by a medical condition called catalepsy, an almost trance-like state — some articles even described Boggs as “comatose” — that caused his body to become rigid and insensitive to pain. He couldn’t eat, speak or move … which, of course, made it difficult for prosecutors to try him for first-degree murder.
Eighty-six years later, we can’t help but wonder — as some folks must’ve wondered in 1936 — was Boggs truly ill? Or had he devised a clever strategy for avoiding the death penalty?
Our story begins on the evening of June 17, 1936, around 9 p.m., when Naomi Burnett Bower was found lying by the road near Homestead Avenue, bleeding profusely and groaning, with a deep, ear-to-ear gash in her neck. By the next morning, she would be dead … but not before pointing the finger at 42-year-old Arthur R. Boggs as the man who’d slashed her throat with a long paring knife. Boggs initially denied cutting the woman, but later claimed he’d cut her in self-defense.
The two appear to have been lovers — the cab driver who drove them to Homestead Avenue that night said they were “all lovey-dovey” in the back seat before he dropped them off — but even lovers fight sometimes.
At his arraignment, Boggs “stared in space as though he were not conscious of what was happening,” The High Point Enterprise reported.
That was a mere precursor of what was to come.
A week later, The Enterprise reported that for the past several days, Boggs had been “in a state of muscular rigidity and insensible to pain.” He had been diagnosed with catalepsy, which we contacted an expert about for a better understanding.
“Catalepsy is characterized by muscle rigidity, or ‘waxy flexibility’ in which limbs of the patient can be manipulated into positions and remain there,” explained Dr. Ruth Benca, professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “Usually there is decreased pain sensation, as well.”
Such symptoms, she said, can be associated with catatonic schizophrenia, but can also be caused by epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease.
Whatever the cause, that sure sounds like the symptoms Boggs was experiencing.
“All efforts to induce mobility into the man have failed,” The Enterprise reported. “He is perfectly stiff. If stood up, he remains standing, provided propped. If laid across his cot, he remains in that horizontal position. If one leg is raised, the other comes up, too. And, they fall simultaneously.”
Hypodermic needles didn’t faze him, nor did other items that would normally cause pain.
“Boggs’ eyes are closed, his mouth shut, his fists clenched,” one article stated. “If he sees, hears or feels anything, there is not even a faint outward indication of it.”
The prisoner’s bizarre condition prompted hundreds of phone calls, letters and telegrams from individuals suggesting what could be done to help the man. Some of them, no doubt, also expressed the opinion that the only illness Boggs had was the acting bug — and he deserved an Academy Award. Why else would he just coincidentally develop these symptoms after being charged with first-degree murder, knowing he could potentially face the electric chair or the gas chamber?
We asked Benca about someone faking catalepsy, and she said there’s something called factitious catalepsy, “where a patient is consciously aware that they are pretending to have a symptom.”
She said it’s also possible, however, that the symptoms were caused by psychological stress — say, for example, the shock of being charged with murder or the fear of facing the death penalty.
So maybe Boggs was faking, but maybe not — we’ll never know.
As the catalepsy dragged into its second week, further delaying the possibility of a trial, The Enterprise reported, “(Boggs) has been given his food through a tube, and except for the beating of his heart, he appears to be dead.”
Finally, one month to the day after Boggs allegedly slit his lover’s throat, he was hauled into court — literally — and plopped down on a chair, still as rigid as a statue. But Boggs was not in court to face trial — he was there for a hearing to determine his mental competence.
Among those testifying were the county health director and Sheriff Joe Phipps. As Phipps approached the witness stand, he raised Boggs’ arm to about a 75-degree angle. The arm remained in that position for about two minutes before it slowly started descending again.
Not surprisingly, the judge committed Boggs to Dix Hill, a hospital for the mentally ill in Raleigh. It appears he may have remained hospitalized for the rest of his life. When he died in 1982, he was a resident at John Umstead Hospital, a psychiatric care facility in Butner.
As best as we can determine, Boggs never served a day for the slaying of Naomi Bower. Not that he should have if he truly had a mental illness, but that still didn’t make it any easier for Bower’s family.
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HIGH POINT — James Jones said he and his neighbors are stunned by the house fire that claimed the life of someone Jones had gotten to know as a friend.
Authorities hadn’t released the person’s name as of late Friday afternoon.
But Jones told The High Point Enterprise that he befriended the man about a year ago.
“I was just over here seeing him yesterday,” Jones said. “He was a nice guy, really cool.”
High Point Fire Department crews arrived at the two-story house in the 1100 block of W. Green Drive, near Tryon Avenue, around 2:40 a.m. as flames shot from several parts of the house, Deputy Fire Chief Tim Wright said. The fire was brought under control in 10 to 12 minutes.
Four people escaped the house without injury, Wright said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The house sustained severe fire damage, Wright said. Most of the house was charred black from fire and smoke. A dollar amount for the damage was not available.
Law enforcement and emergency crews blocked off several blocks along W. Green Friday while investigators moved through the property.
The response to the fire involved 25 firefighters, four engine trucks, two ladder trucks, a rescue vehicle and two battalion chiefs.
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HIGH POINT — Culp plans to move its High Point mattress cover manufacturing operation with its approximately 70 employees to its facility in Stokesdale.
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Teresa Huffman said the company plans to transition out of its cut-and-sew location at 1150 Silver Court by the time its lease expires in January.
Culp has had a presence at this south High Point building for more than 30 years, but decided to consolidate the operation there with its fabric production and distribution facility in Stokesdale, Huffman said.
“It’s an efficient move to do that,” she said. “Of course, the overriding thing is, it’s a really good move for our associates as well. Our employees are able to have their jobs, just in a different location.”
Headquartered in High Point, Culp, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and marketers of mattress fabrics for bedding and upholstery fabrics for residential and commercial furniture, this week reported a net loss of $5.7 million for the quarter that ended July 31.
The company reported that its mattress fabrics sales were down 31.8% and its upholstery fabrics sales down 16.9% compared with the first quarter of last year.
It cited soft consumer demand made worse by inflation and an excess of inventory as contributing to the financial results.
The consolidation move of the cut-and-sew operation was cited by Culp as a cost-control measure in its earnings press release.
It’s been in High Point for about six years. Before that, the Silver Court facility was used for knitting operations.
The Stokesdale plant, which is about 30 miles north, has about 320 employees.
“We just announced to our folks a couple days ago that we’re making this move, and thus far, the reaction has been very positive,” Huffman said. “Our manufacturing is still going to be concentrated in Guilford County.”