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article imageCasey Anthony Parents Conflicted Like Child-Killer Parents

By Carol Forsloff     Jan 17, 2009 in Crime
Susan Smith’s mother, Linda, has written a book about her daughter and her dilemma as mother of a convicted killer. She isn’t alone.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s father wrote one too. Will the parents of Casey Anthony, if their daughter is convicted of killing her daughter Caylee, write a book? The ultimate pain and shame of parents of children who kill is born out by their stories, some shown in the press at the time, and some told later by way of the books they write.
Casey Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony, were on the news frequently imploring for anyone who had seen their little granddaughter Caylee to come forward. They were reported to have wavered about the guilt or innocence of their daughter Casey. In the eyes of the public, as reflected in the stories written about this case, they are portrayed as either being too much in denial about their daughter’s possible guilt or victims themselves in this tragedy. Given this wide swing in social perception, how could it not be difficult for these people?
Susan Smith’s childhood was reported to be seriously troubled with her mother, Linda, having married at the age of 17 and the family involved in intense arguing that led one of Susan’s brothers, Michael, to attempt suicide. Her parents divorce was an emotionally fraught experience for everyone, it was said, so much so that Susan’s father, Harry, committed suicide. Susan was sexually abused by her stepfather, Beverly Russel, for years, an issue that continued despite family counseling. So Susan’s mother lives with the killing of her grandchildren, the imprisonment of her daughter for their death, and the memories of the sex abuse also. That contributes to the Linda’s ultimate pain. Linda Smith wrote her book My Daughter Susan Smith, for the following reasons, as she has explained;
My daughter Susan Smith was never a violent person, never abused her children. She never committed an act of any kind that those close to her could point to later as an omen of the killing of her children. She loved them dearly. They were her life. But she sent 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex to their deaths in John D. Long Lake on a dark October night. In the 6 years since Susan was found guilty of murder, I am just now beginning to understand the silent devastation of mental illness. Obviously, I have to accept that Susan was responsible for the deaths of her children. But where does responsibility lie for what happened along the way that got her in that mental shape?
This book is a quest for understanding--for myself and for others.
Later on an author by the name of Don Davis in 1997 wrote a book entitled Hush Little Babies: The True Story Of A Mother Who Murdered Her Own in which both the lives of Linda and Susan were told. Linda remains grieved, it is said, over the circumstances of her life and that of her daughter, Susan. As of the last report of the family, it was said the members remain silent about the case these days.
Lionel Dahmer, father of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, has written his story as well, simply titled A Father’s Story. The contents of the book are described like this:
A Father's Story' chronicles Lionel Dahmer's reflections and reminiscences of his son, Jeffrey, a serial killer. Despite the gory crimes committed by his son, the elder Dahmer finds it hard to judge Jeffrey the way his accusers have. The worst imaginable nightmare for most parents is to discover that one of their children has been murdered. For Lionel Dahmer, the discovery that Jeffrey Dahmer, his son, had murdered so many other people's children is what has turned his life into an unimaginable nightmare. Arrested at his Milwaukee apartment in 1991 and sentenced to 957 years in prison, Jeffrey Dahmer had taken the lives of seventeen men,
Some authors have discussed Lionel Dahmer’s book and the confusions he relates and have declared that in many ways, Jeffrey Dahmer was his father’s son. Those stories that will likely continue are sure to continue the pain of Dahmer’s family.
Now Cindy and George Anthony stand in the same place as other parents with a daughter accused of killing the granddaughter they loved. The public, as with other cases, is likely to be confused as they vacillate between concern for these parents and grandparents and problems concerning any issues the prosecution finds related to them. It won’t be easy for them at the trial, or certainly the future, as the cases of other parents have painfully shown.
Brad Conway, the attorney who represents George and Cindy Anthony, told Meredith Viera on the Today Show Friday that the Anthony's stand by their daughter but haven't visited her since late October because they have no privacy with her, and they need that. The Sentinel reviewed the broadcast, writing that Conway underlined the Anthony's affection for their daughter but that they don't visit because they don't want videotapes of their visits broadcast all over the country. He also said that the Anthonys asked for immunity in order to have protection for statements they may need to make regarding the case. They are reported to have conflicts and grief regarding the events surrounding their daughter and the death of their granddaughter.
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