Y’all,

I am completely flummoxed. For many years- while I would never ever condone murder- I could totally appreciate the motive behind murderer Betty Broderick. Betty had been married to Dan Broderick for 20 years. During their entire marriage, she had worked her ass off for them both to get to the point where they could sit back and enjoy their success. She had worked and financially supported him and his dreams while he went through medical school and then Harvard Law School. During this time, she also was the primary caregiver of their four children with little to no help from him. Of course she is pissed when they finally make it big, and he leaves her and marries a younger version of herself.

Everyone began calling her crazy after she shot and killed Dan and his new wife. Husbands began referring to their ex-wives as another Betty. The name Betty developed serious negative connotations during that time. So one has to wonder, does society expect a woman to work hard for everything while supporting her husband, just to nonchalantly give it all up when he gets bored and decides he wants someone younger? If she gets pissed, is her anger not justified? She has just been cast aside, as if everything she did, meant nothing to him. As if he would have still been the successful man he now was, if she hadn’t pushed and supported him to be the best he could be.

I strongly feel that she was just as entitled to his money as he was, because without her- he would have been nothing. She had INVESTED in that man just like men invest in stocks and bonds. You EXPECT a return on your investment. Do you know what I mean? She had invested time and money into him and their family. Sure the money matters. But it is the time that is the most meaningful. Years spent investing on him- you can’t ever get that time back. It is gone forever.

I recently watched the 1992 TV movie called A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. It starred Meredith Baxter (Shout out to a wonderful actress! I love her! She was nominated for an Emmy for this role!) I came to understand that Dan had a natural keen insight and was able to read people. He knew Betty intimately and knew just how to push her buttons. I think he slowly, deliberately, and methodically stripped her of everything she was. You could say he intentionally drove her crazy. Why, I do not know, but he was not a nice or decent man at heart. ‘Count Da Money’ as he liked to called, filled his closet with expensive hand tailored suits and then decided his current wife wasn’t good enough- he wanted to sport a younger more docile woman at his side.

BUT, Meredith Baxter played her role well, and I came to see another side of Betty Broderick. One that I did not know existed. There was a stubborn side of her who could not let things go, and she was downright obnoxious at times. She was very self-centered and reacted violently whenever she did not get her way. After the divorce, she focused all of her hate and resentment on Dan and his new young wife, ultimately giving up everything she had until she killed them both. She did some crazy shit. And so did he. It was a vicious circle of him egging her on, and her reacting. Here are some examples.

  1. She threw all of his expensive hand tailored suits in the yard and set them on fire when she discovered that he had disappeared from work all day with his 22-year-old assistant, and then tried to come home late to her. (I totally get this. He deserved that.)
  2. He secretly sells their family home without her knowledge or consent. (Did he give her a fair share of proceeds from selling the house? Doubtful. That was just mean.)
  3. She calls him a condescending asshole and leaves vile messages on his answering machine. (One or two or even three are ok, any more than that is just unnecessary and excessive, sister.)
  4. She decides that he needs to see what it is like to be the primary caregiver and begins dumping their kids off at his front door one by one- even when there is no one home. (Really, Betty? I have to wonder at this move. Are you so hell bent on hurting him that you can’t even consider your kids’ feelings or care about their safety at all?)
  5. She breaks and enters into his house, destroys everything she can find, slams her vehicle into his front door, among various other crazy things. (That’s a bit much. Way too much drama. You should have had a wake-up call somewhere around here. Did you press snooze?)
  6. He recorded and transcribed her all of obscene calls and used them as leverage to obtain primary custody of the kids. (He had stripped her of her identity as a wife and now a mother. He never said he wanted the kids. This was just a tactic to control her and hurt her as much as he could.)
  7. She stole her daughter’s key for Dan’s house. She enters it in the middle of the night, and shoots and kills both her ex-husband and his wife. (Feel better now? You have effectively destroyed him. But you also destroyed your kids. And you destroyed you. I don’t think it was worth it, do you?)

I have also researched and watched the grown kids as they appeared on Oprah talking about their mother and what happened. I then watched Oprah interview Betty in prison. It seems that Betty just snapped and has never able to get back to normal. She remains narcissistic and manipulative, even behind bars. It is sad really, what could have been.

Betty, Betty, Betty, I wish you would have held your cool. Yes, that young girl had everything you deserved. She had your husband, your kids, and your life. I get it. I know divorce is painful and hard and depressing as hell.

But you could have held your head up and remained classy. You had options, girl. You had the looks, the money, the resources, and the brain. You may not have had what you originally wanted, but you could have risen above it and found a new normal, a new life.

After studying this story and hearing both sides, I am just saddened. It really is a sad story of two people who promised to love each other forever and had big dreams of a future together, but culminated in a tragic ending.

REFERENCES

Dateline NBC 2016. A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. Dateline 48 Hours Mystery. YouTube. https://youtu.be/bLy4wy4gvJU

A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story 1992. TV Time Capsule. YouTube. Retrieved January 2021. https://youtu.be/DBeWFfMajq8

Oprah Interviews Betty Broderick Who Killed Her Ex-Husband and Wife. The Oprah Winfrey Show. OWN. Retrieved January 21, 2021

Betty Broderick’s Children Tell Their Side of the Story. The Oprah Winfrey Show. OWN. Retrieved January 21, 2021

Y’all,

One of the craziest episodes of Forensic Files is Season 2 Episode 4. It is called Sex, Lies, and DNA. This is a 20 minute episode full of interesting twists and turns.

It starts off with a report that a woman named Ruby Morris is missing. Cindy Morris (her daughter) calls and notifies the dad Earl, who has just driven from Arizona to California. He has gone to California to supposedly visit another daughter. Police are also notified that Ruby is missing. The police arrive and begin to search for Ruby. They find possible blood evidence in her bedroom and bathroom. A sample of the blood is obtained and sent to the forensics lab to determine if it belongs to Ruby.

It is decided that familial DNA testing needs to be performed in order to prove that the blood belongs to Ruby. DNA from Earl and Ruby’s children is ultimately obtained and matched to the blood evidence recovered. However, when processing it, the paternity of the two older children comes into question. Earl is not the father. Further investigation reveals that the two older children’s father is actually their grandfather.

Meanwhile, Earl leaves his vehicle in an airport and flies home to “search for his wife”. His El Camino is later located in a California airport and is subsequently searched. Blood evidence is discovered in the passenger’s seat and floorboard. DNA proves the blood belongs to the missing wife, Ruby.

Dominoes start falling down all around Earl as his world falls apart. He learns who his children’s real dad is. Everyone learns that he has a mistress and that his mistress is Ruby’s sister. The police are closing in on him. They have easily and quickly determined that Earl killed his wife. He then drove to her to California, put her in his boat, drove the boat out several miles in the ocean, and then set it on fire, successfully disposing of his wife. Neither Ruby or the boat was ever recovered.

Fortunately for investigators, Earl is the kind of man who doesn’t realize he should stop while he is ahead. The trial moves forward but everyone is worried about the shaky circumstantial evidence, and not having actual proof that Ruby was dead. Luckily, Earl decides to testify. He swears under oath that Ruby was indeed deceased. He reports that he drove her to California and he disposed of her body in the ocean. He tries to convince the jury that Ruby committed suicide, but instead he strengthens the prosecutors case against himself.

Try to watch this episode if you can. You won’t be disappointed. I have gained practical knowledge through this Forensic Files episode. I now know to never kill someone, place that person in the passenger seat of my car, and then drive 400 miles across the country. Even if you put a hat on the dead person and no one notices your grotesque companion– any blood or fluids leaking from the body will definitely tell on you.

Y’all

I have become fascinated with why people do what they do. Especially people who kill- what causes them to snap? What gives them the ability to cross that line and take someone’s life? My research about this subject led me to find out about a very serious, but rarely discussed issue. It is called the “Mother Wound” or “Enmeshment”. This describes a type of abusive relationship between a mother and her son.

It occurs when the mom has an unfulfilled need- she may be lonely or maybe she feels unimportant in her life. She is usually single, but in some cases, she may even be married but the husband is not fulfilling her emotional needs. She will ultimately satisfy her emotional needs by placing her son unfairly into a companionship role. He becomes her surrogate partner, so to speak. He is an object who is there to take care of her – his needs become irrelevant. At times, she may even border on covert incest, such as inappropriate kissing, walking around in skimpy underwear, bathing him long after an appropriate age, or any action that pushes normal mother and child boundaries.

When the son is a child, she will idealize him and tell him he is the “man of the house.” She will praise him and put him on a pedestal. She will act like he can do no wrong which will boost his sense of importance. As he grows a little older, he naturally begins to pull away from her to find his own identity and what he wants. But the mom will punish him for this- for wanting autonomy- by criticizing him, manipulating him, or gas-lighting him. She will do whatever it takes to make him feel guilty and pressure him back into resuming his role of taking care of her. And later, as he grows into a teenager, he will pay a high price for any attempt at finding or having a normal relationship and trying to fulfill his own needs. He understands that she will never think anyone else will be good enough for him and she definitely does not want him to try to find someone else to love.

The son understands on a deep level that this relationship is not normal. He begins to resent his mother for the emotional abuse and the way she forces him to live. He begins to distrust her and therefore all women (if you can’t trust your mom, who can you trust?) because he sees that her love for him is based on his performance and how much he pleases her- he does not have the normal unconditional maternal love he deserves. This will create an increased fear of rejection and abandonment feelings when dealing with other women. As he gets older, if he does seek relationships with other women, he will never feel truly loved and wanted. He will struggle emotionally in all of his relationships.

In certain circumstances, he may have even began to develop sexual feelings for his mom and he knows that he cannot fulfill those needs. He feels trapped and smothered. He wants to date and have a normal relationship, but somehow he feels like he is “cheating” on her when he does. In order to satisfy his natural sexual needs, he may turn to pornography, prostitutes, or other more dangerous behavior. This allows him to satisfy his sexual needs without feeling like he is displeasing his mother. He has to modify his behavior and do whatever it takes in order to not feel guilty for betraying her.

The son becomes angry at himself and his mom because he feels stuck. He becomes angry when he feels like he can’t tell her no and he has to do as she says. He feels guilt if he does try to go against her wishes and put his needs first. He knows he has to take care of her, and he wants to take care of her- but not at the price of losing himself. This causes intense feelings of rage and shame- at himself and his mom. However, he cannot let his mom know how he feels, so he will transfer all of these intense feelings to any other woman in his life.

A prime example of this in real life is Gary Leon Ridgway. He is the Green River killer. He was convicted of 49 murders between 1982 -1998. He is reputed to actually have killed 71-90 women total, most of them were prostitutes. He grew up with a mom who was very controlling and demanding. She would criticize him and berate him if he did anything wrong. She dressed provocatively while he was growing up. He peed in the bed until he was 13 and she would personally wash his genitals every day. This was an abusive relationship emotionally and sexually. He ultimately developed sexual feelings towards her. He knew he could not have sex with his mom. He ended up feeling trapped and powerless. He hated her for making him feel unloved and unwanted. He wanted to kill her. Instead, he began to turn to prostitutes for sex and then began killing them. He even practiced necrophilia with some of his victims. His actions in his mind, gave him power and control over a woman instead of being under his mom’s power and control.

In my book, Seeds of Betrayal, the murderer is shown to grow up in a very similar situation as Gary’s. Enmeshment is more common, I believe, than what people really think. Is it really fair to hate murderers who are created to be this way by the emotional abuse they suffered as a child? And continue to suffer with as they grow up? I can see that, in a way, there is no hope for these men. They have no future. They ultimately struggle to find love and acceptance just like everybody else. It is just that their actions can sometimes be more extreme- even dangerous and criminal- which makes it harder to accept and forgive.

REFERENCES:

Cooper, Oliver JR. 2020. Mother Enmeshed Men: What causes it? https://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/mother-enmeshed-men-what-causes-it

Sons of Narcissistic Mothers. 2014. http://www.sonsofnarcissisticmothers.org/sonms.html

Narcissistic Abuse and Awareness. Randi Fine. randifine.com/broken-sons-of-narcissistic-mothers/

Robert Summers. Jan 25, 2019. The Golden Sons of Narcissistic Mothers. https://youtu.be/CBq6GHhek8Q

Patricia Love, EdD, with Jo Robinson. 1991. The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do when a parent’s love rules your life. https://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Incest-Syndrome-Parents-Rules/dp/055335275X/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_0/132-5283557-4827209?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=055335275X&pd_rd_r=7fa0c957-86b0-4f1a-b9d2-644e95199753&pd_rd_w=fjKhD&pd_rd_wg=wLbBe&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd_r=YN2J9F55WTT0EP4RBM0Z&psc=1&refRID=YN2J9F55WTT0EP4RBM0Z

Belden, Rick. Men and the Mother Wound. http://rickbelden.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Rick_Belden_-_Men_and_the_Mother_Wound.pdf

Y’ALL

I watched American Murder: The Family Next Door on Netflix this past week. I realized while watching, that sometimes we get so involved and fascinated with the murder part of the story that we forget about the real people who get hurt. As I watched Shanann Watts walk up to her front door and enter her lovely house for the last time, I was incredibly sad for her. She could literally be any of us- any woman, every woman -who loves their family and struggles to do what is best for them.

Shannan was pregnant with a baby boy she eagerly called Nico. She had two beautiful girls named Celeste and Bella. For all intents and purposes, she was living a normal life, a perfect life. She had a wonderful family. She had a good looking husband whom she loved but was deeply worried about the current state of their marriage. We have all been there. It just usually ends in a painful divorce and shuffling the kids back and forth depending on the custody agreement.

When does marital discord cross the line to become something as extreme as murder instead of divorce? Are there signs during the marriage the woman chooses to ignore? How can a woman love a man who has the ability to murder her and their kids and not know it? How soon into the marriage does the husband even realize himself what he is capable of? I cannot wrap my head around it.

Did Shanann ever once imagine the horror of Chris brutally murdering her, her unborn son, and her two sweet baby girls? Any woman knows that it had taken a lot of time and effort for Shanann to create such a beautifully decorated and perfect home. Anyone could see that it was full of hopes, promises, and dreams of the future. Her family was her life- you could see it. Shannan wanted to grow old with Chris while raising their beautiful children together. That is the dream.

In the documentary, after Shanann’s worried friends call the police, we see Chris arrive to the house. Watching Chris talk to everyone, trying to act innocent when he had just killed his entire family a few hours before disgusted me. He did not just viciously murder them- he desecrated their bodies afterwards and treated them like they were nothing. He annihilated them. I know that he had literally pushed and shoved his older daughter through a tiny hole so that she would fall into a large vat of oil to decompose. It is such a savage and brutal act to do to someone you love. I cannot fathom it.

Even if we can acknowledge that maybe in the heat of the moment – feeling intense anger- maybe Chris could not remember his love for Shanann and he attacked her and killed her. I can almost understand that. I can wrap my head around it. But what about the little girls he gave piggy back rides to – the love you have for your kids is a natural and constant manifestation, isn’t it? He had to have some measure of love for his girls, right? He could not have pretended that much- could he? Could he have hidden his deep animosity towards his family that well and for that long of a time? And no one be the wiser? I just can’t understand it. The only thing that makes sense to me is just to say that he is evil. He is a monster. He makes me sick.

Y’ALL,

Who has seen the very first episode of Forensic Files- Season 1, Episode 1. This is one of the most fantastic morbid stories you will ever find on Forensic Files. It is about Richard Crafts. He was a handsome and successful airline pilot who was married to Helle Crafts, a beautiful flight attendant. After 11 years of marriage and having three kids with him, she found out he was having an affair. She had went to a private investigator and had proof of the affair before she decided to leave him. After the night of November 18, 1986, she was never seen alive again. She was only 39 years old. Investigators began looking into her disappearance after concerned friends reported her missing. Blood evidence found in her bedroom matched her profile. Seasoned investigators continued to investigate her disappearance and was shocked when they discovered that Richard had used his credit card to buy a freezer and rent a large commercial grade wood chipper. A snow plow driver eventually came forward and told the investigators he had seen Richard. He had been at the edge of the river with the large wood chipper. The investigators spent long hours at the river searching for evidence. They finally found a partial fingernail that was proven to be Helle’s, part of one of her teeth, and a piece of an envelope addressed to her. It was proven in court that after Richard killed Helle, he froze her body in the newly purchased freezer, chopped her up with a chainsaw, and then he brutally disposed of her body with the wood chipper.

The supposed psychology behind a man murdering his wife is an unconscious conflict between needing her and depending on her, but also wanting desperately to be rid of her. In his mind, the only way to really be free of her is to kill her. The situation is made even more dangerous if she ever attempts to leave him, because then he has to also deal with intense feelings of rejection and abandonment. And if he has had any previous mommy or daddy issues on top of that…run!

Richard was convicted of murder on January 9, 1990. The courts stated that he would spend up to 50 years in prison. However, he was quietly released in January 2020 at age 82 to a transitional house. Why was he released after only spending 30 years in prison? Good behavior. He has been a completely free man since June 2020. Yikes!

Mariticide is the name given to a woman who kills her husband or boyfriend. Men kill women statistically more often, but not by much. Statistics report that out of 100 men who have killed his wife or girlfriend, 75 women will kill her husband or boyfriend. That is a 4:3 ratio men to women. Women are not very far behind the men when deciding to murder instead of walking away from a bad relationship. But are the motives of women more evil? Are the behaviors of women more duplicitous?

Forensic Files did an episode of murderer Joann Curley titled “Till Death Do Us Part”. Joann was a widowed woman who was looking for love. She found it in a nice good-looking electrician by the name of Robert (Bobby) Curley. On August 11, 1990, they were married. By all accounts, she was a very happy and caring wife. Bobby was happy. It was later discovered however, that while she was still in supposed newlywed bliss – a mere 2 months after marrying Bobby- she began to feed him rat poison. And not just any rat poison- but a specific kind of rat poison that had been banned in the late 1960’s by the EPA due to it containing Thallium. Thallium is a heavy metal and extremely dangerous because it has no odor and no flavor. Joann’s grandmother had not gotten rid of her supply, she kept a special jar of it stored in her basement.

The thallium when initially given to Bobby caused intense burning in his hands and feet. Doctors wrongly diagnosed Bobby with Guillain Barre, which is a fairly rare neurological disorder. Unfortunately, nothing the doctors did improved Bobby’s state of health. He never got better. Bobby’s condition kept worsening until he finally died tragically and in a lot of pain on September 27, 1991. He was only 32 years old. He had been married to Joann just over one year.

Joann had gotten away with murder until Bobby was exhumed almost six years later. A lead forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden performed a second autopsy on him which included a segmental hair analysis looking specifically for poison. Thallium stays in the hair forever. The segmental hair analysis will help create a timeline to reveal how many times and approximately when a person was poisoned. It was revealed that Robert was poisoned at least seven times during his marriage with Joann. This second autopsy also revealed that he had been given a large dose of thallium on the last day he was alive. It was in the pizza still in his stomach, because food does not continue to digest when you die. Joann had brought him his favorite food of pizza as his final meal.

She was charged in 1997 with first degree premeditated murder. She pled guilty to manslaughter and even confessed to poisoning him by putting the thallium in the tea mug he liked to take to work. She also admitted to giving her daughter and herself a small dose of thallium to thwart the investigation and divert suspicion off of herself.

It was discovered during the investigation that Joann’s motive was a 300,000 life insurance policy on Bobby. But here is the kicker- two days before she gave Bobby the lethal dose that killed him, she was awarded a 1.7 million dollar lawsuit from the motor vehicle accident that had killed her first husband. She knew she won the lawsuit and would soon have all of that money, but she still continued with her plan to kill Bobby. Why? Because he had known about the lawsuit and had expressed a desire to spend some of the money on a family trip to Hawaii and start a business. He thought he would be able to share in the settlement money being her husband and all. Joann was not willing to share any of it- not one dime.

Shockingly, Joann Curley walked out of state prison in Pennsylvania in December of 2016 a free woman after serving only 20 years. She was 53 years old- still young enough to have a normal and fulfilling life. I assume she had money hidden somewhere and is living the high life. I hope she does not have the ability to ensnare and kill another man during her undeserved freedom. Joann is a very conniving and evil woman. She even admitted to giving her own daughter a dose of thallium. I hope her daughter is sleeping with one eye open.

References:

The Disappearance of Helle Crafts. Forensic Files season 1 episode 1.

Woodchipper Killer. Blood, Lies, and Alibis. 2012. Investigation Discovery Channel.

Buried Secrets. The Secrets of the Morgue. Season 1 Episode 7. Investigation Discovery Channel. https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/secrets-of-the-morgue/

Till Death Do Us Part. Forensic Files. season 4 episode 6.

Gifford, Storm. January 31, 2020. Woodchipper Murderer Richard Crafts Out of Prison. New York Daily News. Retrieved from:
https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-richard-crofts-out-of-prison-20200201-luuvtnnrq5buxhudq73gf5nxwy-story.html

Robert Curley. June 18, 2020. National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children. Retrieved from: https://www.pomc.com/mw_stories/robert_curley.html

Petrillo, Matt. Dec 12, 2016. Murderer Joann Curley Freed From Prison. WNEP news. https://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/luzerne-county/murderer-joanne-curley-freed-from-prison/523-6bd567a0-8fc5-4f00-94a3-7e368ea30cc7

Henson, Rich. January 5, 1997. With The Iced Tea Came A Painful Death-Wife Accused of Poisoning Her Husband- Even in Hospital. Seattle Times. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19970105&slug=2517263

Mariticide. June 20, 2020. Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Richard crafts. June 18, 2020. Murdepedia. Retrieved from: https://murderpedia.org/male.C/c/crafts-richard.htm

Becoming Jenny Savage

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I became fascinated in the world of true crime but I would have to say that it must have began sometime around the Casey Anthony trial in 2011. I had already lived through the highly publicized trial of OJ in 1995. I was thoroughly uninterested in any part of the trial -we all knew he did it- and I could not understand why the public was interested at all; I felt not even a smidgen of curiosity about how he did it.

I was a mother of two beautiful kids when the Casey Anthony trial came about- maybe that was the difference. I was morbidly curious as to how the “tot mom” could go on living a beautiful life – her words, not mine- according to the fresh tattoo on her chest with the words ‘Bella Vida’ which means a beautiful life). She wanted and received this tattoo only two weeks after her precious two year old went missing. I would have been devastated if I could not find my daughter. A beautiful life?? No, you would have had to pry me off the couch and out of a severe state of depression if my precious baby was missing. I just could not understand her mindset at all. I could not tell if she was even just a little sad about it.

Amazingly enough, both cases resulted in an innocent verdict for the accused. It made me sick that lawyers could and did- manipulate all the facts while ignoring truths. Their only goal was an innocent verdict – no matter what the deceased victims and their families had went through.

So somehow around that time, I developed an interest in true crime. But even more so, I began to be really curious about what makes people tick. What causes a person to kill? How do they have the ability to do something so tragic? Are they born that way or do they develop the ability over the years? I feel like it must take a certain hardness – an extreme lack of sympathy or empathy for a human being in order to take a life.

I began to watch ID tv (Investigation Discovery) all the time. I watched it every day I was not at work. I watched Forensic Files. One day, I driving around and I was thinking about how it was always the husband or boyfriend that murders the girl. I even had a shirt by then that said “the husband did it” and suddenly I had an inspiration. What if it looked like the husband did it but he did not really do it? What if the husband was actually a good person and was really innocent? But the cops involved were too lazy or just not good at their job and they were dead set on putting the husband -an innocent man- in prison? Then I went a step further, and I imagined my daughters’ boyfriend (now husband) who is absolutely a good man and would never hurt her. But if it looked like he had murdered her, and the cops were wrongly accusing him of her murder, how would I react? I would step in and help him, of course. I am pretty feisty when I get pissed off. I imagined telling off the detective and probably saying a few cuss words when telling him that I would do his job for him and find the killer myself if he was that incompetent.

So I wrote this book Seeds of Betrayal based on a fleeting idea of ‘what if’? Taryn is the main character and she just a normal everyday woman who loves her family and will do anything she can to help them, to protect them, to care for them. How far would YOU go to protect someone you love?