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.