My evil dad: Life as a serial killer’s daughter
November 5, 2014 8:33 AM   Subscribe

 
That was powerful, thank you for sharing. She has lived gracefully with a burden I don't know that I could carry.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:43 AM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Great article. There isn't any detail on the murders themselves, thankfully, but there's some triggery animal stuff about a quarter of the way in.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:52 AM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if you're sensitive about animal cruelty stuff, you might want to give this article a miss. I don't consider myself exceptionally sensitive, and I'm actually sitting here feeling extremely nauseated at the moment, wishing I hadn't read that.
posted by holborne at 8:55 AM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh wow, just finished it. "My eight errors in judgment." Even for a serial killer this guy is an asshole.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:59 AM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just finished watching the first season of a TV police procedural about a father of young kids who is also a serial killer. If you've seen it, you'll know which one I'm talking about, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. It occurred to me the young daughter in the show is the fictionalized version of this woman, and as the season ended I found myself wondering how real life people in her position could cope when they learned the truth.

This woman is so strong...what an unbearable burden to carry.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:00 AM on November 5, 2014


I found her discussion of the "signs" that something was off pretty interesting. It got me thinking of the kids I knew whose dads were definitely not going to win father of the year awards, but at no point did it ever cross my mind that they would be murderers.

With hindsight those signs seem so obvious, but in the moment? Well there are a lot of creepy people out there..
posted by selenized at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


holy crap. i was able to skim over the animal stuff, it's not particulary gruesome just disturbing and you can kinda skip it - it's just a paragraph or two.

the end is hard/crazy/wow, how she found the ability to let go.

that is just some, wow, i don't even. my shit seems less heavy now for sure. holy christ.
posted by sio42 at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please tag "animalcruelty" or something, thanks. I wow, should not have read that.
posted by tzikeh at 9:27 AM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


First reaction to how she writes about her father, was "wow, sounds like the bad guy in a Stephen King story".

He obviously gets inspiration from somewhere, I guess.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2014


I have a friend whose father is currently in prison for molesting a young child.

I never even met the guy, but yet I feel somehow tainted by the association. I can't even imagine what people who are closer to even worse criminals must go through on a regular basis.

I try not to let it affect my interactions with my friend, or with friend's mother, who is still married to the guy, but it's still always in the back of my mind.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


i have multiple relatives on the sex offender database (and there should be more on there). some people do react very strangely towards me when they find that out. as a victim of childhood molestation it's a weird thing to navigate around.
posted by nadawi at 9:42 AM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


My daughter played soccer with a bunch of other girls and we found out later one of the families was involved in a string of bank robberies. It's nowhere near what this person has endured, but it was really strange to think the people that brought orange slices and granola bars last week to the game were just convicted for robbing several dozen banks over many years, and living as a normal suburban family in between bank jobs. For years.
posted by mathowie at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


My father was a child molester. It really fucked me up, growing up knowing what he did, and it wasn't helped any by family members who used that against me if I did something they didn't like ("you are just like your father!" shouted at a boy who knows his father is in prison for molesting young girls).

Even now, thirty years after he was arrested, when someone compares me to him in any way for any reason I feel this shame, revulsion, and guilt. I had nothing to do with his crimes. Doesn't matter.
posted by johnofjack at 9:51 AM on November 5, 2014 [40 favorites]


When I saw this was published in the UK I thought, that's weird, serial killers are more of a US thing. Then I read ...yes.

When we write these guys off as animals or freaks or whatever, we tend not to think of their wives, children, parents, siblings....she's got a support group going for FAMILIES OF SERIAL KILLERS. I'm both glad and very sad that this exists.

100 years ago we institutionalized (or imprisoned) people for schizophrenia and many other mental illnesses we know today are treatable. I hope one day science is able to identify whatever synapses are crossed up in these men (they're usually men, right?), recognize it early, and treat it effectively. At bottom they are ill, and while they do great damage to others, they are as much controlled by their illness as any other sufferer of mental illness. In the meantime let's at least stop pretending that killing them is going to solve any problems that lifetime imprisonment won't also solve.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I vaguely remember a thread here where a young man found out he might be Charles Manson's son.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2014


I vaguely remember a thread here where a young man found out he might be Charles Manson's son.

That was me. And it was a joke.
posted by maxsparber at 10:28 AM on November 5, 2014


The original link is broken from that FPP, but I do recall it being about a boy who finds out his father is a killer. Not Manson, but somebody terrible.
posted by maxsparber at 10:30 AM on November 5, 2014


When I saw this was published in the UK I thought, that's weird, serial killers are more of a US thing. Then I read ...yes.

Unfortunately serial killers are pretty much an everywhere thing.
posted by kmz at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maxsparber, no I remember a for real one.
posted by jonmc at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2014


that fpp was about a guy who discovered his dad is manson.
posted by nadawi at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2014


Ah, That explains my incredibly tasteless joke.
posted by maxsparber at 10:35 AM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I saw this was published in the UK I thought, that's weird, serial killers are more of a US thing

We have plenty, but nope. The UK has its fair share too. (Harold Shipman, hey?) And really, there are probably scores and scores of them in countries with less developed criminal investigation systems who have never been identified... and that's not even getting into premodern serial killers.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


This guy raped, tortured, and murdered WOMEN. Real, living, human women. But we need a trigger warning for animal abuse. Classy.
posted by peep at 10:50 AM on November 5, 2014 [32 favorites]


I think the killing of humans is sort of implied in "serial killer," in the title. Animal abuse is not.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:54 AM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think people were okay with him killing humans. The point is that there are rather graphic depictions of animal abuse, and that's very upsetting to read. There is nothing similarly graphic to his murders of women, thank goodness, as people should also be given a heads up about that.
posted by maxsparber at 11:02 AM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also the animal abuse is described in more detail in the article than the rape / torture / murder is, as the author witnesses the former directly but not the latter, and the piece is actually about her, not him.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 11:03 AM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


peep: This guy raped, tortured, and murdered WOMEN. Real, living, human women. But we need a trigger warning for animal abuse. Classy.... Please examine your thought process here.

You're missing the point. The trigger warning for harm to humans is already there, so if we are not comfortable reading about what was done to people, we are already warned. We have not been warned about what is done to animals, and therefore cannot decide if we are ready to ready that or not. Welcome to the wonderful world of everyone not being exactly the same as you.
posted by tzikeh at 11:07 AM on November 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


As the OP I was also somewhat surprised that people would react so strongly to the animal abuse after clicking an article about a serial killer. When I read the article, the animal abuse affected me not one jot. But when people said it made them uncomfortable, I emailed a mod so they'd add a warning, because why not, right? I don't really get it, but I don't have to get it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:10 AM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Then he just started to tell me how he would cut off the victim's buttons, so that there wouldn't be any fingerprints left

wait, what?
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:19 AM on November 5, 2014


Buttons would necessarily be covered in fingerprints.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:29 AM on November 5, 2014


I don't think you can get fingerprints off fabric or (the victim's) skin.
posted by scratch at 11:31 AM on November 5, 2014


Between this and the "My Grandma Poisoned Everyone" story in Vice I am feeling pretty lucky that no one in my family has seemed that suspicious. Now that I think about it though...
posted by SassHat at 11:42 AM on November 5, 2014


I would feel so bad about what he did, but I'd probably also wake up at night wondering how close I came, every day he was there, to being his victim. Or having one of my friends or family be. Or my mom. Jesus.
posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on November 5, 2014


Fingerprints can be lifted from skin in some circumstances.

This article reads to me like a solid lesson on 'not all victims are visible.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2014


The victim that reached out to the daughter of her would-be killer? What a deeply emphatic, caring and strong person she must be.
posted by Harald74 at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Or just curious. I'd be curious.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:20 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd never thought of the families of serial killers before, probably because it's comforting to pretend the killer is some kind of chthonic, inhuman thing, rather than a person with parents and kids and friends and uncles and aunts. It's great of Moore to help me realize that my comfortable pretense perpetuates the harm the killers do to their families.

As far as the trigger warning goes, an article about a serial killer is probably going to involve a man raping, torturing, and killing women. Even people who haven't read much about serial killers probably know to expect this: it's one of the many manifestations of the serious problems our culture in general has with women.

Lots of serial killers also torture and kill animals as a kind of warm-up before moving on to people. It's normal to find graphic depictions of torture and killing -- whether against animals or people -- pretty disturbing. Some people who haven't read lots about serial killers might not know about the animal cruelty trend, so it's a kindness to warn them up front.

I can see how the trigger warning can read like we care more about animals than the women the serial killer raped, tortured, and murdered, but I'm positive it's intended as a, "Hey, in addition to the incredibly fucked up things this person did to other people, they also did fucked up things to animals, so heads up for that" kind of thing.
posted by amery at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


amery: I can see how the trigger warning can read like we care more about animals than the women the serial killer raped, tortured, and murdered, but I'm positive it's intended as a, "Hey, in addition to the incredibly fucked up things this person did to other people, they also did fucked up things to animals, so heads up for that" kind of thing.

Thank you. I loved being sneered at for asking for a warning about violent cruelty against animals, as if my concern for the animals--and desire not to read about it--somehow negates any horror I might feel about the human victims. How dare I give a shit about more than one kind nightmarish destruction of life.
posted by tzikeh at 12:50 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


The thing about the animal abuse would have hit me regardless, but what really upset me the most about it (and it was more than enough by itself) was that he did it in front of his children. I worry about my kids seeing things far less disturbing on TV and not just for bad influence, but for the heartbreak of them suffering over having seen it.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:58 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


For the record, had there been detailed descriptions in the article about torture of humans, I would have had the same reaction. There were no such descriptions, but there were two about animal torture. And yeah, what's "classy" here, if anything, is mocking people for being upset by a detailed recounting of animal abuse. Sorry that my humanity isn't up to some people's standards. Oh wait -- no, actually, I'm not.
posted by holborne at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey not to mod my own post too hard but the rest of the article is also pretty interesting, just sayin
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:31 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


[Yeah, if we could move on from the animal stuff, that'd be great.]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:11 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


an article about a serial killer is probably going to involve a man raping, torturing, and killing women
Or men. Dahmer's the most notorious.

It's a paraphilia isn't it? Getting off on killing those whose vulnerability the killer enjoys. It's much rarer in women - I can only think of one recent case - but it does happen. I guess if the paraphilia is for frogs or clingfilm then those people won't be serial killers. Unless by accident.

when someone compares me to him in any way for any reason I feel this shame, revulsion, and guilt.
That must be a hell of a thing to live with. Likewise that poor writer is going through life carrying her father's face around on the top of her own neck, inescapably. Very hard for her not to feel he's part of her.

I also, reading about his weird boundary crossing and jocular, fascinated, shameless cruelty, think the whole family was in danger from him. The boundary wasn't there for him, or it was a joke, and what a buzz to poke over the edge of it, do a quick murder and rush back home to normality, licking his lips and feeling one up on everyone. And maybe killing one of his own family would in the end have made him feel even cleverer, as if he'd got away with even more. Only a matter of time. Because I can really conceive of the conversation in the diner as him skirting close to giving himself a reason to practice on his own child.

Also, being a long distance driver seems a pretty convenient job if murder's your vocation.
posted by glasseyes at 2:15 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


After I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009, I received hundreds of emails from family members of other serial killers thanking me for telling my story, and asking for help and advice...I've created a whole network of people like me - daughters, sons, siblings, parents and grandparents of serial killers. So far, I have had direct contact with more than 300 people like this - we are an underground community.

I always say, "Criminals come from somewhere." I vaguely remember catching a glimpse of Jeffrey Dahmer's parents in a television interview as I was flipping channels--they looked shell-shocked, like they'd just stepped off of a plane fresh from a war zone. I read the interview with Peter Lanza while I was at work, and realized he and I work for the same company--I saw his info in the company directory.

I know that some serial killers have had abusive parents (Richard Chase, Ed Gein, etc.), but whenever the topic of serial killers comes up I find myself thinking about the parents like Peter Lanza, or the siblings, or the children. I can't imagine what dealing with that burden is like.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Several years ago I received a mid-semester request from our school's counselling centre asking if I would give major extensions on all remaining coursework for one of my students. They didn't go into further detail. I granted the extension and hoped my student was OK, not knowing what the nature of the issue was, but I knew it had to be Some Serious Shit, partly because of the phrasing of the request and partly because it was coming straight from the counsellors.

The student had been absent for a few days, so I was surprised when she walked into my office hours a day or two later to pick up her coursework. She was obviously in deep distress. I re-emphasized that she did not have to disclose what had happened, but I think she wanted to get it off her chest. She asked me if I had heard the news story about a young local woman who had been brutally raped and murdered. At first when she brought it up, I thought she was going to say the victim had been a friend or relative, but no, instead she told me the young man who had been arrested for the murder was her (current) boyfriend. I was utterly shocked and didn't know how to respond except to tell her I was so, so sorry and to make sure she had appropriate support from her family and the counsellors (she did).

Later it was discovered that over the course of their relationship, her boyfriend had raped and murdered several more women (he was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life). I think of that student often, of what she had to deal with, knowing she had been intimate with someone who was capable of that kind of violence and capable of hiding that other life from her. I shudder to think she might well have been one of his victims too--I'm certain the thought has crossed her mind often. I think the service Melissa Moore provides with her support network is invaluable to people like my student. No one else can understand what they've been through, not in the same way.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:50 PM on November 5, 2014 [22 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders: "I hope one day science is able to identify whatever synapses are crossed up in these men (they're usually men, right?), recognize it early, and treat it effectively."

The premise that its etiology stems mainly from neuro-structural dysregulation is a framing of the debate that positions itself firmly within a medical model, which then creates both advantages and constraints for identification, labelling and treatment.

The pre- and Victorians thought they could cure it, using a disease model. They called it moral insanity. Theirs was a theory of mind, which later accreted inheritance theories.

Then in the early-to-mid 20th century, a different episteme prevailed for a time, and within this people created carceral networks that they thought could cure it. they called it some variation of sexual psychopathy. Theirs was a clash of biomedical and mind theories, driven together by a moral panic and resulting political action.

There seems to be a multi-generational oscillation between hopefulness and hopelessness.
posted by meehawl at 10:48 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


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