If my life were a comic book or an old-time gangster movie, I would be the character who denounces her villainous family and tries to go on the straight and narrow.
That may be a little melodramatic.
Okay, it’s very melodramatic.
But I do seem to have some undesirable – even downright unsavory – elements in my family tree, mostly on my father’s side:
- an aunt who, along with a group of friends, blew up a part of the high school back in the 60’s. Yes, drugs were involved.
- a family member who sexually assaulted me, as well as some other people over the years. Yes, drugs were involved (on his part)
- a family member who served time for arson (although in this case, I maintain his innocence)
There is a lot of mental illness on my paternal side, and that in combination with drugs and alcohol abuse has led to a lot of other behaviors as well. Both my father and grandfather were almost compulsively unfaithful to their wives, and had illegitimate children. My grandfather had 2 wives, my father 3. My father’s final wife was another man’s mail order bride; she left the abusive man, met my father, and married him 2 weeks later. He didn’t even tell any of his minor children until after he married her! He picked them up from school and said “Guess what I did today…” At one point my grandfather was married to a woman who was only 3 years older than me (he was 80 when they married, she was 30) while my father was married to a woman who was 3 years younger than I. My father committed suicide in 2004, but I don’t think his marriage and death are related. Although his death happened under suspicious circumstances, and some family members whisper that it wasn’t suicide at all…
Which brings me, at last, to what I’d like to talk about today: it seems I’m related to a murder suspect.
And before you ask: yes, she’s my paternal aunt.
About 4 years ago an elderly man suffering from dementia wandered away from his home and was never seen again. It was famous around here. Flyers were posted on every telephone pole and in all local businesses. It was on the news at the time, and occasionally pops up still. I’m not sure why it made the splash that it did, other than the fact that his family is wealthy. Whatever the cause, it’s been a huge story. That being said, I didn’t actually pay much attention beyond seeing his photos and keeping an eye out.
What I didn’t know until a couple of days ago was that one of my aunts was acting as his live-in caregiver at the time. He wasn’t a regular client of hers; she was filling in for someone. He disappeared on her watch while she was in the house alone with him. Her story is that they were watching movies together when he decided to get up and go for a walk outside. The man could barely move on his own, and he had dementia. Why the hell did she let him go??? She supposedly called 911 when he didn’t return but, though little time had passed and his mobility was severely limited, there was no trace of him to be found. The woods behind his house are vast, and he may well have become lost in them. But massive search efforts turned up nothing.
He just vanished.
Apparently the man’s daughters, now living in London, have hired private detectives. I can’t blame them; I’d do the same! Last week a tip came in about a body, and gossip everywhere said it was his, and that my aunt had killed him. The body turned out to be a cow or something, and papers quickly revised the stories implicating her. The investigation is ongoing, and she remains a person of interest.
I don’t know what happened, and I’ll probably never know. What I do know is that she’s been severely unhinged for a long time. Everybody who has come into contact with her over the past several years will agree. Her husband accused her of spousal and child abuse, had her removed from the home, had the kids taken from her custody, and divorced her. It was extremely ugly. She always maintained that he was the abuser, that he was the one with mental illness. At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I know firsthand what it is to be abused and have nobody believe me. Over time, however, I came to realize that her ex-husband had been telling the truth. Like my father, paternal half-brother, and another aunt, this aunt has bipolar. Unlike my other aunt and I, this one doesn’t acknowledge that she has a problem, and won’t get help. I could give you a list of the things she has said and done over the past few years that confirms her condition but, frankly, I don’t think you want this post to go on that long.
What does all of this mean?
To me, it means that while I may never know either way, I think it is feasible that she committed this crime. Her version of events is completely incredible to me. At the very least she should be held accountable for negligence! Oh, I don’t think it would have been premeditated. But I could conceive of something going horribly, tragically wrong. I am left with a question, however. My aunt, though not tiny, is small and slender. I don’t know how she would have disposed of the body had the crime been committed in or near his home. If, on the other hand, her story was a complete fabrication and they had been out for a drive, disposal would have been easier to conceal.
I watch too many crime dramas.
Of course it could be that he went out for a walk and was abducted (and killed?) by someone else. I would rather believe this, quite honestly. It still makes my aunt culpable in the extreme as far as I’m concerned, but at least she wouldn’t be a killer.
And this, my friends, is why I like to stick my nose in novels that allow me to escape from everything and don’t require me to think.