My life was hardly that of a typical teenager. Instead it was a living hell. When I was portrayed as a popular cheerleader, obsessed with boys and clothes, those reporters didn't have a clue about my real life. I gave only one interview while I was still in shock. None of the others ever never spoke to me one-on-one. People like the women who signed the letter to the editor on the left encouraged me to go on.
My tragic story awakened the country to the taboo of being sexually, physically and mentally abused while finding the strength to endure it all.
I was a victim of the worst kind, but finally there were a few who gave me the love and support I needed to become a survivor. For those who are fortunate enough to never have known abuse, the raw truth in this book will open the door that allows you to see into our world.
I was only sixteen years old when, out of desperation, I hired a schoolmate to kill my father after years of his sexual, physical and mental abuse. Incest is one of those things frequently swept under the carpet, and that was especially true in 1986. No one wants to believe it exists, even now, but let’s call it what it is—rape. In my case, it led to murder.
AFTER MY FATHER WAS MURDERED, I DISCOVERED AT LEAST 20 PEOPLE SUSPECTED WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME--NONE OF THEM HELPED!
During my trial I discovered dozens of adults apparently suspected what was happening to me, but nobody did anything to help me! For whatever reasons they had, these adults kept quiet and never came forward until it was too late. Then there were the other adults, the ones who questioned why, as the child living in the terrorizing environment with the abuser, I had not been the one to come forward to tell anyone.
There were people who gave up on me and a lot of people who didn’t believe in me, but the few that did are the only ones that counted.
I'D PROMISED MY DEAD MOTHER I WOULD PROTECT MY SISTER
I’d promised my mother as she lay in her coffin that I would watch out for my younger sister JoAnn. That I would always protect her from him. I was not much more than a child myself, but I knew I couldn't let my little sister be raped by the monster my father had become behind our closed doors. I stood trial for arranging his murder, spent time in jail, and although helped by extensive therapy, I do have lifelong PTSD.
Throughout my trial and afterward newscasters speculated, righteous people pointed their fingers at me, my father’s relatives and so many others lambasted me. Some people said I lied about the abuse and wanted him dead for the insurance money. None of them had an understanding of what I’d endured or how successfully my father controlled me through fear of what would happen if I didn’t obey his every command. Those people couldn’t feel the terror that filled me every minute of every day—the desperation that consumed me especially when he threatened to go after my eight-year-old sister. The signs were there. He had begun to do the same things to her he did with me when I was ten and the abuse had first started.
As an adult I’m not the same terrified, beaten teen anymore. I have risen above being a victim and found my strength. The strength I called upon when my husband Rob needed me to be the strong one. When he was pronounced dead on my forty-third birthday, I refused to give up on him. I pleaded with the doctors to keep trying to revive him. The man who was my salvation for so many years just couldn't be dead. To their own astonishment, they brought him back to life after he was dead for forty-three minutes. Today he is alive and almost completely back to normal, working again as an oncology nurse. The doctors called it what it was—a miracle.
I WROTE THIS BOOK TO HELP OTHERS LIKE ME
My desire to help other people has always been there, and I hope by writing this book it will send the message that you are strong enough to get through anything you set your mind to. If you feel you are all alone, please remember those of us who have walked in your shoes are there for you. We belong to a certain kind of club. A club no one chooses to be a part of, but once you are in you can never get out. Abuse or trauma of any kind is our bond and the reason we embrace the need to help each other.
This book isn’t just about the murder and trial. It’s also about what followed. During our years of living a normal life—which was something I’d never had in my youth—we had no idea disaster would strike again with such a vengeance.
From the day I met Rob our lives have been so intertwined, my story is Rob’s story and his is mine.
As you read, you may think some of what we say is dramatized or even made up, but nothing is fiction. Everything is backed up with documentation.