Friday, October 31, 2014

Relative speaks of terrible memories of a killer in the family

File:When the Leaves Come Out (Chaplin 1917).pdf
Painting illustrating the killer and the pain of the killer's family members

"I came here to forget, so don't use my name," she said, as we walked together across a small park-like area in the complex where we both live.  "My dad killed my mother and my brother, then himself some years ago; and it was hard staying in the same town where everyone knows everyone else, so I moved."  Like other members of families of those who kill, the woman referred to in this article as Beverly has a lifetime of pain and trying to forget, as the devastating consequences of her father's terrible act continues to create anguish she said she must live with the rest of her life.

Beverly's tears were real, as she continued her narrative.  "I was only 20, and my brother was still living at home.  I knew my parents had marriage problems, but I did not know my dad was capable of killing her or anyone else.  I later found out from other relatives that there were some signs the problems were getting worse.  What I don't understand was why he killed my brother.  And I learned he had threatened both of them and other family members; but I guess they did not take him seriously since folks believed he was just blowing off steam.  But I can't forget that day when I learned about it.  It is something you can never, ever forget, although I have tried to go on with my life, which is why I decided to move to someplace beautiful where I could begin again."

Like Beverly, members of families who have suffered the losses created by those who have killed have to deal with the tragedy, often suffering alone if they move to a new location and having to face those who know about it if they remain in the same area.  Often the newspaper descriptions of the actual killing may name a few family members, those who are interviewed along with neighbors; but Beverly said the town was small enough people knew each other.  Her friends and neighbors would recognize her and say things out loud, or whisper in sympathy; and the knowing and shame became too difficult for her,''

NBC's interview by Erin Burnett of Melissa Moore, the daughter of serial killer, Keith Jesperson, said, in reference to her own experience and feelings in dealing with her father's actions, "There are wounds you can never heal."  In order to deal with those feelings, Moore researched her family tree to see if there was a history of violence in her family that would explain her father's aberrant behavior.  So Moore continues to wonder about the motivation of a man who killed 8 women from 1990 to 1995.

Jeffrey Dahmer's father, Lionel Dahmer,  wrote a book about his relationship with his son, an infamous serial killer, who not only killed numerous young men and boys but also cannabilized them. Lionel blamed himself for his son's personality flaws.   His mother had years before changed her name, and after her son was found to have perpetuated heinous crimes, her anonymity was relatively maintained,as she made no public appearances, pleas nor offered opportunities for interviews.  Yet her associates said, after Joyce Flint, Dahmer's mother, died of breast cancer in 2000, that she was never able to shake off the memory of what her son had done.

Beverly walked slowly away from the conversation with me, shoulders sagging just a bit, as if a burden had been lifted, that one person in the complex knows her secret and would not divulge it with her name, as both of us understood.  The pleasant-appearing woman is indistinguishable from others her age who enjoy the beauty of the area, but in that beauty the darkness of her life continues to bring sad memories to the daughter of a killer, memories, that like others who have family members who have done terrible things, continues to haunt a heart still aching with shame and loss.