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BBC Radio Show — 26 Comments

  1. Joyce, I just began listening to this panel discussion, so I can’t really make a comment, but I feel such pain from everyone’s experiences.

    The shame is so intense, and the pretense of Being Okay requires SO much energy. The hurt, pain, and shame requires professional attention, IMHO.

    Godalmighty……….bless EACH person who is struggling with this terrible experience.

    • OKAY…………after a skadillion interruptions, I finally heard the entire panel discussion, and my feeling was that everyone who spoke did so from their soul of souls.

      Kassandra’s story was poignant because she’s still so very raw and the experiences of her son’s crime is still so fresh. Tim’s story…………I don’t know, or understand, why he opted to marry a convicted murderess, but he did and his experiences are just as devastating as everyone else’s were.

      Joyce, I wanted to particularly note that your explanation of the reactions of friends, family, and neighbors was so spot-on. Nobody brings the family members of a murderer ANY support………..not even prayers of strength or courage. The family members of killers are left to swing in the proverbial breezes as if they, themselves, were the killers.

      What a poignant discussion…………and, I appreciate the BBC exploring this devastating situation that you experienced, and continue to evolve from, Joyce. Very, very courageous………..

  2. Truthy, I notice that too. Kassandra’s emotional reactions were normal for a person who has just been traumatized by a shocking revelation. Joyce and Debra have had more time to adjust to the realization that they lived with evil. They no longer sound as traumatized. And I agree with you about Tim. I can’t really relate to his choice to marry a prisoner who has murdered and will never get out.

    I think that what people don’t “get” is that the family members of an offender, were his first victims. Sometimes they also become his last victims when society judges them guilty for the sins of the offender.

  3. I agree with you Truthy and Sky, no one brings you casseroles or gives you “support” when your relative is a killer or other offender.

    Cassandra was very raw, did you notice how she kept focusing on the DETAILS of “she went in the house, went out of the house, in the house, out of the house” etc. and rambled so that not much made sense. Sounds like me after Patrick was arrested for jessica’s murder. I spent so much time in the FOG (fear, obligation and guilt). I didn’t blame myself for CAUSING his problems, but for NOT FINDING THE SOLUTION which I just “knew” was out there if I could just find it.

    I called Cassandra’s phone which chris gave me the number for, and left a message telling her who I was and told her I was here if she wanted to speak to me. She didn’t return the call.

    I really did want to reach out and hug her…I could hear that AWFUL RAW PAIN and I knew how she felt.

    She’;s not ready to “give up on” her son, and she’ll I think be one of those mothers who hangs in there for decades (Like I was) maybe never letting go of the idea that she must “fix” her son, support him, etc. Her son probably has a reasonable chance of getting out though due to his juvinile status. But I have no expectation that a few years in prison are going to rehabilitate him.

    • I also heard the rawness and shock that Cassandra is in. I too wish to call her and let her know I would be available as a support. While an in-depth description of her son’s character prior to the murder was not given, it is not for me to ?judge? how she manages her future with him. But I hear how she spends time traveling to see him, worrying if has gotten sick and how will he be cared for. Frustratingly for me, I looked on the FB page for BBC/World Have Your Say, and some of the commenters are saying she should not “give up” on her son.

      • Addendum: I appreciate that BBC focused on the topic….but for those that encourage continued contact instead of healing…Were they listening? I also feel a bit badly that her other children will continue in the environment where the story is known.

  4. Dshaklana, I agree with you about the environment for Cassandra’s other children as she apparently lives in a gang-infused area, but she professed to not know that her son was involved with the gang and said she told him not to hang around with the “bad kids”

    But I’m not so sure that moving out of the area, if she could, would even be a drop in the bucket at this point as her kids have been there for I would figure most of their lives. Plus, there is the DNA aspect as well.

    For some reason I could not get the BBC world have your say FB page to show the show or the comments about it. Not sure why but I couldn’t find it on FB…I found their site just not that show. I really would like to read and maybe reply to the comments.

    The “stick by your relative/man” thinking is what causes DV and other crimes in my opinion. I think maybe that “stick by” and “don’t give up on” thinking goes back so far in tribal memory that it is almost “instinct” as well as a social construct.

    Back in the days when I was visiting Patrick in prison (sometimes we had contact visits and sat in a room full of other prisoners and their families) I watched the families of other prisoners and Patrick would whisper to me what the prisoner had done and how long his sentence was. Looking back it was interesting to see WHICH prisoners families were there visiting….most visitors were either Hispanic or Black, there were very few white families there….The prison in Texas was only about 35-40% white inmates, but now that Ii think about it, in a room with 50-60 inmates, only one or two would be white families. So that makes me think that more Black and Hispanic families than white families “support” their family criminal. That would be an interesting study…my observation may be totally “off” but it would be interesting to me to know which segments of society tend to support the criminal family element more than others.

  5. Okay, I found the comments on the program…also read the story of Melissa Jesperson. Her story sort of resonates with the daughter of the guy who cut off the girl’s arms and left her for dead (Singleton) I am sure there are many many other families out there whose family members have done heinous crimes. I hope that Melissa’s book will give some comfort to these families.

  6. I have yet to listen to the program as my tablet will not allow it for some reason or another. Whatever???

    My opinion in regards to Tim’s situation is that he chose it, rather than it being forced upon him like the others. Joyce and Cassandra did not ask for their sons to murder anyone and Debra certainly didn’t ask that her father be the type of person he is either. While it is noble of him to marry her to help raise her children, there are a lot of undisclosed factors that might explain why he felt the need to get involved.

    You are all 1000% correct that the family is judged and often left to their own devices after such a heinous crime. It happens with crimes that are less severe as well. Who wants their family associating with the ___________ (wife, sister, mother, children, father, brother husband) of someone who is a ___________ (pedophile, rapist, abusive partner, stalker, armed robber, etc.)??? People don’t stick around, possibly out of fear that they or their children, may either fall victim of the next offense, they are now a witness or are part of the collateral damage when the sh!t hits the fan again. It’s truly a matter of finding out who your friends are.

  7. Phoenix, I had the Television on waiting for the news and a talk show was on and they were discussing the upcoming Charlie Manson marriage and wondering WHY anyone would want to marry a serial killer who had no hope of parole.

    So I don’t think you and I are the only ones who can’t figure out why anyone would be a “serial killer” groupie LOL

    But there are a LOT of things I do not understand and that is one of them. Who knows about Tim? Maybe he was just trying to protect those kids and needed to marry her to gain legal standing so he could, but I think he could also have gotten custody of the kids other way, but maybe not. I’m not going to speculate on that a great deal.

  8. Joyce, Phoenix,

    I read a book back in the 90’s called “Women Who Love Men Who Kill”; it gave a pretty good (I thought) description of the dynamics that could make a relationship with an inmate desirable. One that sticks out in my mind is that the relationship never leaves the “romance” stage. Someone’s heart is always being torn asunder as they wait for the next phone call, letter, visit and then are torn from away from their loved one; as well as taking on the loved ones “cause”, and not knowing their “fate”.

    Joyce…you are right about the DNA part of all of our situations and it is too bad we couldn’t get that in with the BBC program. I’m glad Melissa makes reference to it on the FB page.

    The little coverage on Charles Manson’s pending nuptials out here has a reference to his fiancé “Star” talking about marriage last year and he said it was just “propaganda” for the media (or some such heartwarming statement).

    Joyce, while I was working in corrections I noted the racial disparity between general population and the psychiatric unit inside the institution. General population was about 80% black/hispanic/other and 20% white, while on the psych unit it was about 80% white and 20% black/hispanic/other. I asked an African-american social worker at the time about what that was about, and she said it was because the black/hispanic/other’s families tended to stand by their inmate more…so….less need for institutional coddling?

  9. Dshaklana, that’s interesting about the disparities in the mental health units in prison. I disagree with the social worker though…about WHY…but I think you are right about the black and hispanic families standing by their inmates more than whites, I saw that myself in the visiting rooms.

    As far as mental illness is concerned though, I’m not sure what the general population divide on percentage of blacks/hispanics versus whites having genetically transmitted “mental illness” such as depression, Schizophrenia, etc is, and those are somewhat genetically transmitted.

    Hare’s research and the research of other psychologists show that about 25% of the inmate population are full-on psychopaths with a PCL-R score of 30 or more, and the average score of all inmates is a 22 out of 40 which is HIGH in P traits. Making the majority of felony inmates not someone who you would want to take home for a pet.

    Concerning the “serial killer” groupies, I agree about the “romance” stage like you said, that would make the relationship be more adrenaline producing. Keep those hormones flowing! LOL I think there may be some attention seeking though as well, in some cases anyway. What Tim’s reasons were I have no idea except what he said about raising her kids.

    While I never did “blame” myself for Patrick’s actions, I did feel the shame and kept quiet for decades, but you know, since I have “come out” of the “closet” about it, I do feel less shame about it. I did, however, feel that somehow I could “fix” him, reach him if only I could find the “magic words” that would get through to him.

    I’ve had many people tell me that I must not “give up” on him, that he is my son…but it is only since I have given up that I could start to heal. Healing is a life long process though, and I know that. It is a journey not a destination, but that’s okay. Life is much better since I am no longer hiding the truth, either from others, or from myself.

    • Joyce…No, the “why” never really made sense to me either. How I conceptualized what she said to me at the time, and still use to make sense for myself is that the psych unit held the chronically mentally ill in various states of compensation (where racial composition across Axis I disorders was pretty evenly distributed); but we also had a good size population of personality disordered inmates who didn’t want to do tough time in GP so they would threaten suicide/ideation….if they didn’t have pretty significant issues with classification they would be placed in suicide observation on the psych wing…which probably was an easier way to do the time. I think that was the population that probably tipped the ratio. It has been awhile since I thought about it but her remark always stayed in my head.

      • Yea, that makes sense, and especially if they are of the minority population in prison. My son is a small statured white male and prison was difficult for him for a long time. He has not joined a gang (that causes problems, he says with administration) but he fights like a badger I am told, and even the larger inmates respect him. He has been beaten up severely several times, but now at over age 40 he has, he says, formed a persona as the “old man” so is not as likely to be involved in a fight.

        He also knows how to (sometimes) suck up to administration even though in the past he had multiple SERIOUS violations of rules including a shank and a cell phone. 19 times in total of going to the hole.

        Yea manipulation is the name of the game. Dr. Liane Leedom’s ex husband who was sent to prison for having sexual relations with some of her psych patients and addicts in treatment, actually conned the prison nurse into an affair and when he got out, he married her. He was later rearrested for trying to get a job as a doctor, which he is not.

        So it would definitely be very possible that the minority white men would want to be in “safer” areas rather than face the gangs of blacks and hispanics in gen-pop.

  10. Joyce, when my ex-spath was pulling his last con on me, he wanted me to live in fear that he would be taken to prison (unjustly, of course!) He called me and I didn’t answer the phone. This enraged him because if I didn’t answer, he couldn’t manipulate my emotions. So he left a message, “I’m going to jail now.” LOL!!

    I knew he was full of cra-p, by that time. But he didn’t know that I knew.

    The pattern here, is that these manipulative people will use OUR fear for THEIR safety, to manipulate our emotions. In my case, the spath only pretended to be in jeopardy of losing his freedom, whereas in your case, Patrick actually did commit a crime that landed him in prison.

    My point is that anyone who tells us we shouldn’t “give up” on the offenders, doesn’t understand that they are being manipulated and helping the spaths to continue in their manipulation of their families. In other words, we are not helping ANYONE, by supporting manipulative behavior. It only feeds the spaths. Call it “tough love” or call it what you will, but we do them, ourselves and society, more harm than good when we refuse to “give up” on a spath.

    Oh and BTW, the spath also said, “You should love me unconditionally.” Right.

  11. Sky, a demand of “unconditional” love is simply a demand that we allow them to repeatedly abuse us. Patrick made the same demand. I realized eventually that I had maintained UNconditional “love” of him, but no more. I no longer hate him, or am bitter about what he has done, I allowed him to continue to abuse me, but NO MORE.

    • Joyce, I believe the demand for “unconditional” love is something that I cannot provide to anyone. And, when I consider this concept, it is within my own realm of perceptions. I know many, many people who have said, straight-out, that they will “love” their children no matter what they do. Well………I have to literally wonder what that means?

      I can care about someone, and even love them, without accepting deliberately harmful choices and/or behaviors. Recent experiences with someone that I held to be very dear to me have caused me to consider this concept – “unconditional love.” IMHO, within the human species, it doesn’t exist.

      We, as people, are expected to “accept” and “love” other people, in most cultures and in most teachings. We are to give everyone – hands down – the benefit of the doubt, a second (third, fourth, fifth) chance, and to see “the good” in each person, and hope for the best for that “good” to be realized.

      Now, when someone uses, abuses, lies, and betrays me, over, and over, and over, WHY must I continue to support and encourage that person? Where is the Rule that requires me to do this in order to be a “good person,” myself? If I hold to the expectation that I’m to accept everyone, everything, and hope for the best, then the continued lies, manipulations, deceptions, and betrayals create shame and frustration for me. I’m ashamed because I don’t WANT to give all of that to someone who is (by their own patterns of behaviors) simply throw it back into my face, and that desire to move away from someone like that renders me to be “selfish,” in some circles. I’ve heard other descriptions like “mean,” “cruel,” “heartless,” and “un-Christian.” Well……………..so be it.

      I would rather trade the feelings of resentment and shame for calm and self-confidence, ANY day……….and, this is what the little song and dance of the disordered does to me – it takes away my options, and I’m not dancing to that tune, anymore.

  12. Truthy, I have never seen a case where the person demanding the UN-conditional love wasn’t abusing the person who they demanded give it.

    A person I considered my BFF for 30 years, a few years ago totally betrayed me. She had lashed out at me from time to time and I kept mum, but then about 3 years before the final betrayal, she lashed out at me (totally unprovoked) and I didn’t respond but went to the bedroom in her home where I was sleeping and began to pack, she followed me into the room and asked what I was doing, I told her “I came here at your request to help you finish a project you needed help on, and I did NOT come here to be insulted and yelled at so I am going home.” She apologized and for about 3 years there was not a single incident of her going off on me out of the blue…but then about 3 years ago, she and her husband both lashed out at me…I had gone to their house at their request to show them how to butcher a beef animal and worked my fingers to the bone and then got screamed at. As I was leaving she said “That’s what best friends do they hurt one another then make up” and I replied to the point of NO that is NOT what best friends do they do not HURT one another and then pretend it didn’t happen. I have not heard another word from her in the nearly 3 years since I saw her last.

    I realize that she herself is an abused woman, raised in a dysfunctional home and married to a verbally abusive arse but…that isn’t my monkey and not my circus and I don’t need that. From either him or her. I’m learning to set boundaries on how I will allow others to treat me.

    Even Jesus did not demand that we allow others to continually abuse us, and St. paul underlined the teachings that if someone continually abuses us and we try to make peace but they will not listen…treat them like a heathen, not even to eat with them. That sounds like NC to me. The entire Bible warns against associating with abusive and violent people, and people who break the law.

    There are those who TWIST these teaching to say that we must put up with whatever abuse someone dishes out, especially if they are related to us by blood or marriage, but you know….that is not what the BIBLE says unless you take a half sentence out of context and TWIST the meaning to validate your point.

    Believe me I was raised in a cult-like church that twisted the definitions of a lot of the Bible’s real teaching. Read it for yourself, it’s in pretty plain English available in plenty of stores, and it doesn’t SAY what the cultish folks say it does. It gives good lessons in being good to yourself and not allowing others to abuse you.

    Jesus went to the cross, innocent, but while he wants us to live peacefully “with all men, as much as it is in your power” he doesn’t want us to volunteer to be burned at the stake. LOL

    I have given every opportunity to my erstwhile “friends and relatives” to treat me well, but when they continually abuse me…no blood tie or number of years of “friendship” will entice me to continue to sit still for abuse.

  13. Joyce and Truthy,
    Only infants deserve unconditional love because they cannot be held responsible for their behavior. They soil their diapers and they deserve to have it cleaned up for them because they really can’t help themselves. Really an infant can do no wrong.

    During the last spath attack, and in the years just prior, the spath began to express his infantile emotions more and more. That is why he said that love should be unconditional. (of course he meant for himself, not for me).

    He also told me that he never wanted to grow up. Another tell. When I reminded him that he had said this, he said that it was true because he realized that growing up meant that he would get married and then his wife would leave him. Classic psychopathic/infantile fear of abandonment.

    He had watched his parents’ divorce and he made it clear that he blamed his mother. That’s because, although his father was a psychopath and had cheated on and abused his mother, his mother never spoke badly about his dad. She told me that she didn’t tell her sons about what Bill had done because she didn’t want them to view him in a bad light. This was a mistake. By taking responsibility for the breakup of her marriage, though it was not her responsibility to take, she painted herself as a scapegoat. Though the 6 boys blamed their mother, they could not retaliate against her, instead some of them decided to find surrogate victims in their wives and girlfriends. They used and abused them. One of them fathered many children by several girlfriends, abandoned them and then died in a car accident while partying with his drug-addict friends. His mother again resumed responsibility and had to help raise some of his many kids.

    AFAIK, my ex-spath never fathered kids. He just likes to punish women by abusing them and then hoping that they commit suicide, or helping them to commit suicide.

  14. Sky, you are absolutely correct, infants deserve UNconditional love and acceptance, but once those children have reached an age of understanding, there are CONSEQUENCES for bad behavior, whether it is a spanking or a time out, or being kicked the hail out of the house to live on their own. Unfortunately I kept on giving unconditional “love” (read: ENABLING) for my son, my “consequences” for his bad behavior didn’t make a difference and only when I realized totally what a monster he is did I finally let go and let him experience the consequences he deserves…life in prison. No contact from family members.

    Unfortunately, my poor mother is deluded that he has “found Jezus” and keeps on sending money to him and wants him to get out and come live with her. (sigh) The family dynamics of enabling the family bad boy goes back generations on her family’s history. Also there are psychopaths in that history. Patrick got it from both sides of the blanket and the DNA is there on my mother’s side, and on my biological father’s side, and on the family of Patrick’s father as well.

    Since DNA is known to be part of the cause of psychopathy, I wonder as well is being an enabler ONLY a learned behavior or is it also in the DNA? I hope that someone does some research on that as well as on psychopathy.

  15. Late to the conversation…however, Joyce, back to your analysis of the reverse demographics in jail G.P. vs. psych (80% minority/20% caucasian GP – 80% caucasian/20% minority psych); that the personality disorder in GP caucasians (minority) would threaten self harm to be moved from G.P. makes sense. And I hadn’t thought it through that way before.

    Per your recap for Patrick…19 times to the hole, avoiding the gangs, knowing who to know in administration prn. Classic incarcerated ASPD.

    When I would be called down to see an inmate being booked into the jail…Over 40 years of age…male and threatening self harm; the inmate would often tell me…”I’ve been in the joint. Send me to the hole, I’m not going to deal with any of these young ####’s. If you send me to GP I will **** them”.

    Always scared me a bit. They meant what they said. They didn’t necessarily go to psych…I would call them on the “you can’t be with the young p****, but are you really suicidal?” Usually not really suicidal. I would let the officers know they shouldn’t go to GP, they’d gladly go to Ad-Seg.

  16. And one more thing. Would anyone venture what the ratio might be between family of incarcerated who decide (sometimes agonizingly) to go NC vs. the number of incarcerated who decide to go NC with family?

  17. DShaklana, I don’t know but you bring up an interesting point, and my only information on that is certainly just an observation, not research for sure, but when I would go to visit, the visiting room was usually full of Hispanic visitors, a few whites and 1 or 2 black visitors.

    Another thing I noticed with Patrick, that was DIFFERENT after he went to prison, was that if you were at a contact visit, talking to him, he NEVER looked you in the eye, instead he was continually scanning the room. It was totally disconcerting to try to talk to someone who was constantly scanning the room. I compared his behavior to others in the room, and they seemed to be looking at their family members and making eye contact. Do you have any idea about that? I am imagining that it was like a rabbit constantly scanning the environment for predators. I asked him about it and he was apparently unaware of what he was doing, and he said “I have to keep an eye on everything”

    Patrick’s Ad-seg (solitary) stents were for a “shank” once, of course he said it was planted, and other SERIOUS infractions, including a cell phone, and for contraband of a serious or large nature…once he was teaching a computer class and he had somehow smuggled in tons of porno and he got caught…then when the warden wanted to know how he got it in, he told the warden to shove it up his Mexican arse and did quite a while in the hole for that one.

    When I had to go down to SW Texas to pick up a truck load of his craft shop boot making equipment because they had found a cell phone, I came home and disassembled the stuff to store it away and found TWO MORE phones hidden in the stuff. Patrick is quite the smuggler, and knows how to suck up to staff who are willing to do illegal things. He even had an affair with a young, married female major. He told me about it, but when we were visiting she came into the room and you could FEEL the sexual sparks fly between them.

    One of Patrick’s buddies, the guy who taught him to make boots, got out after 25 years for a murder…married a gal he had known before he was arrested and rented a house near his family. He really was very bright. Got a job as a machinist for low wages, tried to set up housekeeping, but was bored by the get up, go to work, come home, drink a beer, go to bed, get up go to work routine. He lasted out about 3 years, the woman divorced him and he took off with a nephew, got drunk and they put a chain around an ATM and dragged it off behind a pick up truck…of course the cops followed the drag marks and found them, and he went back into prison in 2005…he is due to get out next year I believe.

    Interestingly enough, the guy’s family thought he might get out back in 2007 and they were PRESSURING HIS EX WIFE to “take him back” because they did NOT want him. The ex wife went into hiding because she was afraid of him. The system of course and to some extent society pressure the families to take the released inmate back into their family home or to support them. I’m glad his ex wife escaped, she was a not so bright but very sweet woman

    I try to keep an “eye on” as many of Patrick’s buddies as I can inside or outside of prison. I like to know where they are etc and the internet makes it easy enough to do so. I used to write to several of them who had no “family support” and even sold craft items made by an elderly man who had no family or friends left and no other way to get commissary money except by selling his crafts. One of them still writes to me, and I believe he does so at Patrick’s request, of course he pretends he doesn’t “Like” Patrick any more. I write him occasionally and send him “DIS-information” Actually, that guy may actually be innocent of the murder he is in for…the innocence project took his case and has had DNA tested….but I can tell you for sure he is NOT an “innocent” of multiple other things including cooking meth and I believe he is also ASPD.

  18. Sounds like Patrick can make a fair amount of money inside with his ability to smuggle.

    That was the one thing about defendants charged with Aggravated Murder/Murder 1. Whatever the reason they might not have been technically guilty (overcharging), poor defense; they usually had a pretty long rap sheet of other felony crimes and time served.

    The “boredom” and dislike of 9 to 5 structure, regular bedtime hours is hard on people who are released. Sometimes they just don’t do well with it.

    I could be wrong, but Patricks behavior sounds a little unusual; my take on it is he may have been seeing who was visiting who; anticipating product being brought in or debts due for repayment. Or observing for something snitchable. I think they all develop eyes in the back of their heads, so no need to be obvious about it. Information is very valuable.

    I like your tactic of DIS-information. There is just no choice, in my opinion, if one wants to sleep at night.

  19. DShaklana, I’ve done extensive study in the literature about how convicts think and how they do after release. “The Felon” is an old book but I think a good one. One of the points it makes about the “fantasy” that inmates have about how “great” life is going to be once they are out…get a great job make lots of money, get a Playboy centerfild for a girl friend, drive a hot car, etc. etc. Well, of course none of that is going to happen. The majority will get minimum wage jobs, ride the bus, and chances are their girl friends may not have a full set of teeth, and they become very bored with that life and go back to their friends (or other criminal elements) and bingo, just back in the joint.

    Patrick’s friend Bobby was a perfect example of that. Even though he had family support, and his wife (who had been his GF 25 years previously) was a nice enough woman (not very bright) but the get up go to work, come home, drink a beer and go to bed at 10:30 and then rinse and repeat daily wasn’t very exciting to him. I also think that Bobby was very high in the traits of ASPD. He was also I think “addicted” to adrenaline, which of course is a daily “drug” in prison. I know that Patrick really enjoys the adrenaline fix. Even when he was a kid, just breaking a rule was “fun” not because he wanted to break it but it was just to “show Mom she can’t control me”

    Patrick can and did I think make quite a bit of money from smuggling, and he knew which guards would help him, I also have a smuggled out letter he sent to Hamilton giving GREAT DETAIL on how to smuggle stuff in via the craft shop. I sent a copy of that to the warden and it is in his parole packet as well.

    Yea, the dis-information I send to his buddy Joe is sort of a game to me, but also it let’s Patrick think he knows what I am up to when he really doesn’t know anything.

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