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Wendy Young believed she had finally met her Prince Charming after crossing paths with Christopher Duntsch.
Duntsch was a highly sought-after neurosurgeon who promised her a life filled with extravagance and success.
But Young would never get the happy ending she had envisioned with the doctor.
Instead, Duntsch would find himself behind bars for life after botching more than 30 surgeries—resulting in the death of two patients and earning him the nickname “Dr. Death”—and the intense media scrutiny surrounding the shocking case would drive Young out of Dallas with the couple’s two sons.
“You know in the beginning he talked about marriage. Mr. Prince Charming, ‘I’m gonna change your life,’” Young told CNBC’s “American Greed” in an episode airing earlier this year. “I left with him and believed in him and then, you know, he just kind of fell apart.”
Duntsch’s disturbing fall from grace is also chronicled in the new Peacock series “Dr. Death,” which tells a dramatized version of the doctor’s brief, but deadly, medical career in Texas, including the struggles he faced in his complicated romantic life as he tried to juggle multiple relationships. (And if you want to dive even deeper into the story, you can also watch the new docuseries "Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story" on Peacock, which features interviews with numerous people intimately involved in the case.)
Young is portrayed in the dramatized series by actress Molly Griggs, who brings to life the couple’s volatile arguments, including one depiction in which Young announces she is pregnant just months into their relationship to a less-than-thrilled Duntsch, played by former “Dawson’s Creek” star Joshua Jackson.
“If I am being honest, the best thing you could probably do is abort that f—king baby because you are not the type of person who can raise it,” Jackson’s character screams at his pregnant girlfriend before tearing out of the couple’s Dallas home.
But what is the real-life story behind Duntsch and Young’s complicated romance?
The pair met in 2011 at a Memphis bar, known as the Beauty Shop, according to a 2016 D Magazine profile of Duntsch’s scandalous medical career. Duntsch—who was just completing a prestigious spine surgery fellowship in Tennessee—bought Young an appletini and the two immediately clicked.
“He was friendly, and we had good conversation. It’s hard to find good conversation with a random person,” Young told the magazine. “We talked about marriage pretty quickly. We moved in together within three months, and then I became pregnant.”
A 27-year-old Young had been working as a stripper in Memphis when she met Duntsch, then 40. At the time, Duntsch had been fielding offers in Dallas, San Diego and New York from medical centers eager to have a neurosurgeon with his seemingly impressive resume on staff.
He chose Dallas after learning that Young had family near the city and she offered to go with him.
Duntsch was offered a $600,000 advance and a temporary suite in a luxury hotel to come to Dallas while the couple searched for a new home in Plano, according to a 2018 “Dr. Death” podcast, which inspired the Peacock series.
Young was soon pregnant—but Duntsch had already developed a wandering eye.
Within a month of hiring Kimberly Morgan, who was a nurse practitioner, to help him run his new practice, the pair were sleeping together, according to the podcast.
Office manager B.J. Ellison told the podcast that Morgan was instantly smitten with the doctor.
“She said she thought he was going to make millions. He was smart. He was brilliant. He was a genius,” Ellison said, adding that Morgan initially felt she had “found the one.”
Duntsch was still living with Young, but he tried to carry out the dual romances by lying to each woman. He told Morgan that Young was just his secretary from Memphis, whose husband would be moving to the area soon, according to the podcast.
He told Young that Morgan was his assistant and there was nothing romantic going on between the pair.
The relationship between Duntsch and Morgan would come to an end after he left Baylor Medical Center in Plano amidst criticism that he had botched multiple surgeries, including one that left a patient dead.
Morgan later secured a temporary protective order against him in April 2012 after telling authorities that Duntsch had come to her apartment at 2 a.m. and banged on her window, according to the podcast.
He would go on to have another child with Young—who finally split from the struggling doctor by 2014.
Duntsch’s medical privileges were revoked by the Texas Medical Board in June of 2013 and Duntsch’s life continued to spiral from there, according to D Magazine.
He was arrested in 2014 for jumping over the fence at the home of Young’s sister in Garland and trying to take their son, Aiden.
Young told D Magazine the incident had simply been a misunderstanding after she had given birth to the couple’s second son and had asked Duntsch to bring Aiden to the hospital to meet his new brother.
But it wouldn’t be the end of the trouble between the pair. She also alleged to the magazine that he broke into her apartment, showing up one day covered in blood. He explained the disturbing visit by saying he had been attacked by an investigator for an attorney hired by one of his patients, although that account was never verified.
Duntsch was also arrested for driving under the influence while staying with his parents in Colorado and found himself in handcuffs another time in April of 2015 after he was arrested for stealing $887.30 in Walmart merchandise, according to the D Magazine.
In July of that year, Duntsch was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on five counts of aggravated assault and one count of harming an elderly person. At trial, prosecutors opted only to pursue the harming an elderly person charge connected to his failed surgery on Mary Efurd; however, other victims would also testify at trial.
Duntsch was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars.
Young told D Magazine she was forced to move from her Dallas home after investigators started camping out on her street and attorneys started waiting in the stairwell of her apartment, looking for Duntsch.
As a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s two children, she also found herself in financial trouble and was evicted from her home twice.
In 2018, she was living in Springtown with her new boyfriend’s parents and had just given birth to a third child she shares with her new partner.
Even now, Young told “American Greed” she still hears from Duntsch when he calls to talk to their sons.
“He has a job inside the prison. I don’t know what it is,” she said. “He works out, he reads, he studies the Bible. You know, he’ll call and say goodnight to his boys, um, sometimes he’ll have bedtime stories and try to be as normal as possible.”
But her dream of Duntsch being her Prince Charming is now nothing more than a memory.
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