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article imageOp-Ed: Forgotten Victims - Killers’ Families Hurting in the Holidays

By Carol Forsloff     Dec 18, 2008 in Crime
It is Christmas time, and I wonder about Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents and what type of holiday they will have. I also wonder about Caylee Anthony’s grandparents, George and Cindy, as they await
the decision about the body of the child found in Florida. Because they, and others like them, I believe, might be the forgotten victims killers. That’s likely true especially for the high profile ones like Susan Smith, killer of her two children, Scott Peterson, who killed his wife Stacey and unborn son, Connor, and Jeffrey Dahmer and Gary Leon Ridgway, both serial killers.
At a time of compassion and love for others, I am someone who worries about not only the victims of killers and their families but the families of killers who might have had extraordinarily dysfunctional children. That's because I believe that serious criminal behavior comes about for multiple reasons, beyond just parenting, I am concerned about the families of those who commit terrible crimes and how they must feel, especially during Christmas when they are likely to suffer more than at any other time during the year. Christmas is family time and can bring up bad memories as well as good ones.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother and father have vacillated from making public pronouncements to withdrawing. Dahmer’s mother has tried hard to stay out of the public eye. Jeffrey’s father wrote a book, A Father's Story, chronicling the history of a son who had problems at an early age. It will likely be hard for either to ever forget the awful crimes their son committed. The parents of Scott Peterson, whose son was convicted of killing his wife, will likely never have a truly happy Christmas with their son in prison for killing his wife Stacey and Connor, their unborn child. Nor will the family members of the “Green River” killer,
Green River bottle
This infamous name, Green River, is associated with the "Green River Killer," Ridgway. Wonder how the families of his victims feel about this kind of image
Gary Leon Ridgway, who is reported to be doing hard time in a Walla Walla prison for killing 48 Seattle area prostitutes. For certain the grandparents of Caylee Anthony won’t as mounting evidence is said to point to their daughter Casey Anthony as the killer of her little daughter.
The media follows up on the killers, the victims’ families, and the issues surrounding them; few journalists cover the parents, the partners, the children and others of those who have killed. This season I decided to do that, since it is likely that not every parent was a monster and not every family is dysfunctional. Since choice is always involved in human behavior, it is likely some killers became criminals because of their own selfish reasons. I found very little about most killer’s families likely because they want to remain anonymous so that they don’t have to answer endless questions and be made to feel guilty by others.
Certainly one of the characteristics of the sociopath or psychopath is self-centered behavior. That is likely the paramount characteristic behind those whose families might have been fairly ordinary but who had a dysfunctional child. Mental illness may run in families, but not every member of the family will have it. And sometimes no member does. So there are those whose dysfunction is part of a terrible illness, bringing actions that are compulsive and out of the ordinary. Like killing is.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, Joyce, was said to be sick a lot during his childhood but to otherwise not a problem mother. When Jeffrey was picked up for the killings, for which he was convicted, she was working some place in the country as a drug and alcohol treatment counselor.. His father was a Ph.D chemist. The parents were the people next door in Bath, Ohio, who divorced when Jeffrey was a teenager, the kind of folks who live in many neighborhoods in America that people can’t believe had a son who killed. Scott Peterson’s family ,according to news reports, continues to deny that Scott killed his wife Lacey and the couple’s unborn child and have hired new defense attorneys for appeals. But they too are likely hurting during holidays filled with memories of happier times.
Little seems to be publicly known about Ridgway’s family since his famous trial and sentencing that took place December 19, 2003. He did say at his trial, "I ask every family member, friend and every member of our community to eliminate such stigmas. I ask that you remember those 48 young women as people who had unexplored dreams, hopes, aspirations and families that loved them deeply." This will likely not remove the family’s pain that is likely to remain a part of its legacy.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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