September 18, 2014

Betty Broderick: Victim or Victimizer, Sane or Insane?

Well, I just can't seem to read or write enough about the Broderick case.  Maybe it's because it was a landmark case for 1989.  Maybe it's because I've gone through two cheating husbands myself.  Or maybe it's because the case isn't necessarily black and white.

If you're familiar with Betty Broderick you probably know that she was denied parole last year.  Not surprising really because 2013 Betty is essentially the same as 1989 Betty.  She hasn't matured, she hasn't emotionally let go of the pain and suffering and she seems to adamantly refuse to admit any culpability in the murders she committed.  Dan was to blame for their horrible honeymoon in 1969, he was to blame for their marital problems in the 70s and he was to blame for the destruction of their family in the 80s when he took up with Linda Kolkena.

I am no Dan Broderick sympathizer.  I think the man was a huge bastard who was most concerned with himself and with how he looked to everyone else.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he was a class one narcissist because he surely exhibited all the signs of one.  I will concede that he was a very successful and astute attorney but while he had all the smarts in the world about medicine and the legal field, he had zero awareness about how to be a husband and father.  And he clearly did not really know his wife Betty.

I have read theories that Dan had a death wish and expected - - heck, even wanted - - Betty to do him in.  I don't think so.  He was far too self-absorbed to ever want any harm to come to himself and I think he considered Betty too weak and stupid to do anything to him.  He was the great King Dan, he provided for her very existence and her purpose was to serve him until he decided she was no longer necessary.  Just my opinion. 

While I don't think he had a death wish I do think he severely underestimated Betty's rage and her capability to harm others.  I believe he thought she would harm herself first and that's why he (and Linda) continued to stick their hands into the snake pit.  Don't play with fire if you don't want to get burned -- and Dan and Linda Broderick got burned.

I don't think Betty Broderick was mentally ill at the time Linda Kolkena started answering phones in Dan's building.  I don't think she was mentally ill when Linda was promoted after she caught Dan's wandering eye and started banging her boss.  I think the years of lying, the cheating, the resentment and the blame that Dan heaped upon her caused Betty to lose track of who she was and what was real.   Dan reminded her over and over of his mistress and his cheating so should we really be surprised that became the focus of her life? 

If you tell someone something often enough, it starts to become truth.  I think Dan told Betty so many times that she was crazy and repulsive, that she was a bad mother, that it was her fault he strayed, that she was so unworthy and unloveable in so many ways that she believed it.  It was said that Betty was a vivacious person pre-Linda Kolkena, that she was a lot of fun to be around and would help out anyone that needed it.  That hardly sounds like the Betty Broderick of the late 80s.  Remember, she was only 41 at the time of the murders (and turned 42 two days later.)  Still relatively young, with her entire life in front of her if she chose to take it.

I'm sorry she didn't.  She was so mindfucked by Dan and Linda and maybe even her generation that she couldn't just let go of what he did to her.  She should have been grateful to lose the sorry son of a bitch who didn't appreciate what she helped to provide him with, who was still acting like a drunken frat boy into his thirties, who demeaned her verbally and emotionally and who cruelly flaunted his cheating.  She should have happily taken those monthly alimony checks, which would have continued until she remarried, if she chose, or until Dan died from something other than gunshots delivered by Betty.  If I had been Betty, I would have made sure to never remarry so that Dan could continue to pay out financially every month for years.  Would Dan have been nearly so attractive and the catch Linda thought him to be after a few years of marriage and after a few years or more of having to pay out to Betty each month?  I'm not so sure.  Linda had been striving for marriage for years.  She finally got it.  Had she lived beyond that November of 1989, what would the future have brought her?  Would she have had children of her own with old Dan or would she come to realize that dealing with Dan's behavior into his forties and fifties was not rewarding in the least?

I don't condone what Betty did.  I understand why she did it but I don't agree.  She proved Dan and Linda correct - - the two adulterers who claimed she was a beast, a monster and crazy.  She may not have been legally crazy but she acted it when she stole a house key and broke into their house in the early morning hours to administer her own type of justice for Dan's infidelity.

And I think that's the root of the murders.  Betty killed Dan because he slept with someone else.  And continued sleeping with someone else, publicly humiliated her and divorced her.  It may have taken her six or so years to murder Dan for it but she eventually did.  Had she killed Dan back in 1983 or 1984 - - or even 1985, about when he came clean about his affair with Linda - - I think Betty would have walked.  The fact that she waited for six long years, only six to seven months after Dan married the receptionist turned legal assistant, made the murders look less like crimes of passion, an explosion of emotions - - love, hate, disgust, desolation, fear - - and more like a cold and calculated punishment.

The initial trial ended in a hung jury.  I think most wanted to understand Betty, to understand her motivations.  Maybe they did but it was hard to reconcile an emotionally battered woman who was collecting $16,000 a month in support with the Betty Broderick who claimed she was going to shoot herself in her ex-husband's bedroom that morning. 

I think too that if Betty had claimed in court that she never intended to kill herself, that she got the most recent legal filings from Dan a few days prior and just snapped, she couldn't take it anymore and shot him up - - I think she would have walked.

So back to her parole hearing of last year, in which she was denied.  The logical part of my brain wonders why on earth Betty won't just admit she's remorseful and sorry for what she did and do her best to get the hell out prison?  Then I realize that maybe she's secure in prison.  In prison, she can continue to live in her world where Dan and Linda are still very much a presence and a threat.  She can also live in a very structured environment where she is told what to do and when to do it.  Exactly like when she was married to DTB III.  Not a coincidence, I think. 

Betty could have had it all.  Instead of flourishing after separating from Dan and then being divorced, she floundered and wilted.  I don't think Betty wanted to live the life of a happy single woman.  I don't think she knew how to live without being told.  As awful as Dan was, he did that for her for many years. 

Do I think Betty was a victim?  Yes.  She was a victim of the time and she was a victim of Dan's, to an extent, and of Linda's.  Linda was just as cruel to her in many ways as Dan was and in some instances, worse.  Linda was a woman too and yet looked upon Betty with scorn instead of having respect for another woman's marriage and family.   It's impossible to know what may have happened to all involved had Linda Kolkena walked away from Dan Broderick from the beginning.

I think Betty continues to be a victim of herself in the same way that she is a victimizer.  She has had a streak of self-sabotage for years and years.  Since the mid-80s she has done little to help herself and plenty to sink herself. 

I'm not sure that Betty is insane but I am certain she is not mentally stable.  Years of emotional abuse and battery have an effect.  How could it not? 

When Betty was denied parole she was told that no other prisoner had ever been so stagnant in making progress - - in other words, Betty had made no progress during her incarceration.  In twenty years time, Betty had not improved nor emotionally grown at all.   Her oldest child is now in her forties . . . the same age Betty was when she committed these murders and the same age I believe Betty remains emotionally. 

I don't think Betty will ever get out.  I don't think she will ever admit to herself, much less the parole board, that she is remorseful for killing Dan (and Linda was merely collateral damage) because I don't think she is capable of doing so.   Dan is as much a threat to her today, in her mind, as he was more than thirty years ago.  And Linda is still that twenty-something homewrecking slut that ruined Betty's life, not someone who would be more than fifty years old today if she wasn't lying in a grave.

What do you think?  Is Betty victim or victimizer?  Will she ever get out of prison?  And does she deserve to? 

I'm all ears.

The Manson Murders: Patricia Krenwinkel

So much has been said about Charles Manson and his crimes and yet somehow there always seems to be something else to add.  More than forty-five years after the murders, and with one convicted killer dead (Susan Atkins), there are still news releases about these infamous crimes.  

Earlier this summer I saw that Patricia Krenwinkel had given a prison interview.  She has been relatively silent over the last four decades of her imprisonment, with few and far between tidbits being released about her work in prison (training dogs for the blind maybe?) and the fact that she seemed to be a model prisoner.  In 1994 she granted Diane Sawyer an interview stating "I wake up every day knowing that I'm a destroyer of the most precious thing, which is life; and I do that because that's what I deserve, is to wake up every morning and know that."   She also expressed the most remorse for what she did to Abigail Folger, telling Diane Sawyer, "That was just a young woman that I killed, who had parents. She was supposed to live a life and her parents were never supposed to see her dead."   I was impressed by these statements, it's true.

When you compare these statements, which do make Krenwinkel seem remorseful for what she did, to the crazy town talk that seems to spill unbidden from Manson or to Charles "Tex" Watson's claims of being a reborn Christian and his "ministry" or to Susan Atkins' (also a supposed reborn Christian) pleas for mercy (i.e., release) when she was dying from brain cancer (or being a murderous asshole) or to Leslie Van Houten's inane bullshit - - well, Krenwinkel appeared to actually have realized exactly what she had done.

So when I noted that she had given another prison interview, I was most anxious to read it and see what she had to say.  Disappointed?  Yes.  Angry?  Unbelievably.

This interview was part of a documentary called "My Life After Manson" and to me it was nothing more than a bunch of whining and finger pointing as to how Manson screwed up poor little Patricia Krenwinkel's life and she committed the murders because she was a "coward" and to win the approval of the man she loved (Manson).  She also says she just wanted to be loved and her childhood led her to kill.

Hey Pat, I'm sure that Abigail Folger wanted to be loved.  And Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who you also stabbed and killed.  Not to mention Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Steven Parent, whose murders you watched and supported.

Honestly, I'm surprised that the ingestion of Twinkies wasn't mentioned as being responsible. 

What made me angriest about this tête-à-tête was that never once did Krenwinkel apologize for what she had done.  Never once did she address the families of her victims, take responsibility for what she had done to them and say she was sorry.  I'm not sure the word "sorry" even came out of her mouth.

Obviously she wants to get out (I want a million dollars, doesn't mean it's going to happen) but this woman needs to stay exactly where she is.  In my opinion if she can't admit after more than forty years in prison that ultimately SHE is responsible for what she's done and where she is, she's learned absolutely nothing.

January 10, 2014

The MacDonald Case: The Living Room

According to Jeffrey MacDonald's account of the night of February 16-17, 1970, the living room is where he struggled with four assailants and fought for his life, as well as the lives of his wife and children.  If you've read about the Manson murders or seen the crime scene photos, you will notice furniture askew and, most importantly, not just the large areas of blood directly under the bodies but footprints, hand prints, castoff blood and spatter from the victims who attempted to escape.  None of these things were found in the MacDonald living room despite this room being as cramped with furniture and items as the dining room. 

The sofa remained in what appeared to be its normal position.  No investigative reports mention marks or indentations in the wall where the sofa may have been pushed or rammed as you would assume during a struggle between a Green Beret and three male intruders.  Pillows and an afghan remain relatively neatly on the sofa.  An end table with candles and several items on it, including a lamp that looks to be top-heavy, remained in place.  The lampshade isn't even askew.  A picture hanging directly above the sofa is still straight and even. 

The coffee table is overturned and lying on its side.  Magazines and children's games rest underneath it.  An upturned plant is on the floor, going toward the front door, a relatively large distance from the table.  Its flowerpot is upright and next to the table.  Interestingly, one of MacDonald's bedroom slippers rested on top of the leg of the overturned table.      

An expensive stereo system, on the wall adjacent to the dining room, is untouched.  Breakables in the stereo cabinet and resting on top of the stereo speakers, are undamaged.  Pictures on these walls remain in place. 

MacDonald's reading glasses were found on the floor, directly underneath one of the windows.  Both sides that go over the ears were found upright.

Blood was found in only two locations in the living room, both in very small quantities.  The first location was a blood smear found on the cover of the Esquire magazine featuring an article on the Manson murders.  The second was a speck of blood, typed as Kristen's, found on the outer lense of MacDonald's eyeglasses.

That is the sum total of the disarray to the living room. 

Despite MacDonald alleging that one of the intruders tore his pajama top in a struggle on the sofa, not one pajama top fiber was found in any location in the living room. 

Despite MacDonald claiming to have been struck with the club that beat both Colette and Kimberley, not one drop of their blood was found in the living room, either on the floor (from blood dripping from the weapon) or in cast-off marks on the walls.

Despite MacDonald claiming to have been struck with the club, no scrape marks were found on the living room ceiling. 

Despite MacDonald's claims that his feet were bound up in the afghan when he fell off the sofa to the floor during the attack, the afghan was found on the sofa. 

Quite a struggle. 


January 8, 2014

The MacDonald Case: The Dining Room

Area of the MacDonald dining room, showing Colette's handbag and the clear handled hairbrush on the sideboard, as well as a portion of the rug.  Marks where blood smears leading into the kitchen were found are visible.

When investigators arrived at 544 Castle Drive early on the morning of February 17, 1970, they found the dining room area of the apartment remarkably untouched. 

A table with four chairs was positioned in the middle of the room.  There was a buffet table with Valentine's Day cards placed atop it, all cards still standing upright.  Several sidechairs jockeyed for space.  None of  the furniture was broken or displaced.  A rug that was easily scuffed and moved remained flat on the floor.  Colette MacDonald's handbag sat on the sideboard, untouched, along with a clear handled hairbrush, with a few strands of hair.  Blood smears led from the dining room floor to the kitchen doorway. 

Just feet away, Jeffrey MacDonald allegedly fought with at least four murderous intruders who, according to him, had already slaughtered his family or were in the process of slaughtering his family, and were intent on killing him.  MacDonald was a 26 year old Green Beret, physically fit.  Despite having been woken from sleep on the sofa, according to his account, he claimed to be fighting for his life and the lives of his wife and children. 

So wouldn't you expect for the fight to spill over into the adjoining dining area?  Wouldn't you expect for the table and chairs to be shoved around?  For the cards on top of the relatively unstable buffet table to fall down?  (In fact, Freddy Kassab upon his revisit to the crime scene stomped his foot several times and the cards fell down).  For the cabinet itself perhaps suffer broken glass?  For the rug to be bunched up and moved around?  For the sidechairs to be pushed aside, knocked over?

Close up of Colette's handbag and the infamous clear handled hairbrush.
Wouldn't there be some evidence of intruders, especially if blood was found anywhere in that room - - even in minute quantities?  The victims' blood being found there would indicate that either a victim or victims bled in that room or their killer or killers were in that room in a bloody state. 

Since the blood found was in small quantities, that rules out direct bleeding by a victim.  It's likely the blood was transferred from or smeared by a weapon or a piece of clothing or fabric.  An intruder, having just committed murder, and walking around the apartment in the dark (per MacDonald's testimony of no lights being on in the living room, dining area or kitchen) would very likely stumble into a piece of furniture, don't you think?  Or leave fingerprints on said furniture or walls. 

So why was blood found there?  I believe it's from the bloody bedsheet that was used to transport Colette's bloody and bleeding body into the master bedroom and Kimberley's body into her bedroom.  I think the killer, in an attempt to clean up and stage the crime scene, planned to take the bedsheet to the kitchen, where the washing machine was located, to launder it and in doing so, left those marks.

Below are more pictures taken of the dining room on the morning of February 17.  Note how close the room is to the living room, where the life and death struggle supposedly took place.  Note how cramped the space was.  Now imagine a minimum of four intruders fighting with a Green Beret and what that room should look like.


The MacDonald Case: Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Castle Drive circa 1970

In order to fully dissect the crimes and study the evidence, I think you need to have a good idea on the background of the location. 

Fayetteville, North Carolina (as well as the U.S. in general) was very different back in 1969 and 1970.  Home to the Army's Fort Bragg, there were major changes during the 1960s - - from the Vietnam War to politics to segregation (still alive and well in that era). 

Fort Bragg did not send many large units to Vietnam but from 1966 to 1970, more than 200,000 soldiers trained at the post before leaving for the war.  Many of them would return to Fayetteville (if they were fortunate enough to survive) broken, disillusioned and addicted to drugs. 

At the time the MacDonald family arrived in September of 1969, Fayetteville was not so affectionately known as "Fayettenam" due to the large number of soldiers discharged from the Army who had seen action in Vietnam.  The drug culture was at its height, along with the omnipresent hippies who made Hay Street in the downtown Haymount District their crashpad. 

Fort Bragg at the time was an open post, meaning that there were no guards, no gated entry, no military ID or pass required.  While there was Military Police (MPs) on a constant patrol, anyone could drive on or off base and without any record or notation. 

544 Castle Drive was on-post military housing which, in 1970, meant that you couldn't dial "0" for assistance (911 had not come into being yet).  You had to contact the Military Police on base.  The home was set out like a duplex from the exterior, with the front doors being side-by-side but the MacDonalds' neighbors actually living above them.  The apartment itself consisted of a living room, dining area, kitchen, utility room, bathroom, master bedroom and two additional bedrooms.  In viewing the floorplan, you can see how relatively small the apartment was. 


The exterior of 544 Castle Drive.  The area outlined in red is the upstairs neighbors' apartment.  The MacDonald front door and apartment are to the right in the photo.
February 17, 1970 was also a mere seven months after the gruesome Manson murders - - murders committed by "hippies" against the white establishment they deemed "pigs".