A Little Girl’s Screams for Help: LJ Lamb’s Story

siblings

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “LJ Lamb” is the pseudonym chosen by the author.

Content warning: descriptions of physical and sexual sibling abuse.

Mum had these weird beliefs about Christianity. She believed that when you became a Christian you gave up your human rights. I’m going to let you think about that. Stop, re-read that, and let it sink in. My mother believes that no Christian has any human rights. None, zero, zilch, nuda. Feel free to grab your spew bag now.

One of my older brothers had a particular thing for beating, bullying, destroying, and even killing anything and everything he could get his hands on. Everyone younger than him was petrified of him. It only got worse as he got older.

I remember telling one of my younger brothers off – I think for making a mess in the kitchen and not wanting to clean it up. My older brother, hearing the argument between my younger brother and I, suddenly entered the room. He cracked his belt and threatened to whip my younger brother because our fight had disturbed his afternoon nap.

I pleaded with him to let me deal with it and not hurt our younger brother.

Another time he took some things that belonged to me. I ascertained to the family members there that taking something from someone without permission was stealing. Mum agreed, until she heard that it was her little ‘angel’ who did it. Allegedly she prayed about it, and God told her that I needed to learn to give up my rights.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, when he worked out how to get into my bedroom and my bed so that I couldn’t kick him out without making a fuss to mother (who would of course side with him all my experience told me) despite me feeling desperately frightened and dirty. I was certain I must be displeasing God, but believed with all my heart that if I went to mum she would punish me and turn me over to the wolf.

So I didn’t scream.

I didn’t fight.

I did the best I could. I tried to amuse him every other way under the sun. I knew he wanted sex. I was so frightened of him. What he would do to me if I as much made a peep. I kept putting my clothes back on. When at the end of the day mum finally came to put me to bed that night and found him in bed with me, his instant reaction was to blame me.

It was my idea. My fault.

By this stage I had already started blocking memories, so I couldn’t even remember what happened earlier that day. I was too frightened to speak. But I felt so dirty. I have no idea what he told my parents later, as I begged out. I pleaded to be smacked instead. After all, we were taught that beating makes atonement for wrong. Beatings were the only way to be worthy of God’s forgiveness. I intended to later get a belt and whip myself or get my younger sister to do it as a favour to me. It still makes me sick to think of it.

I knew what happened that day wasn’t right. I just didn’t realise for years that I had been conditioned to it and groomed for abuse. I didn’t realize it wasn’t my fault. God wasn’t choosing not to forgive me because I was too evil. He didn’t see me as having sinned in the first place. He saw me as the hurt, not the hurter. And He loves the scarred and hurt girls as much as the ones who weren’t abused.

Several weeks after that, the family was at the beach (minus dad). My brother tried to murder me by drowning me when no-one was looking. I couldn’t understand his behaviour and asked him why he was doing this to me. I will never forget the dark look in his eyes when he told me he was going to kill me, because he hated me.

I desperately tried to swim away, but I was quite young still, and couldn’t swim very well. In moments he was on top of me again, holding me under, willing me to drown.

I wasn’t sure why he let go.

Maybe I struggled too much at first. Maybe the waves knocked him about, because it was choppy. But I remember looking up at one stage realising the shore was too far away, and there was no way I could get back in because I was losing my strength to fight. And when I went back I can still hear that little girl’s desperate screams for help, realising she was about to drown at the hands of her own brother, and no-one would know why.

Then there was the terrible moment when I realised that nobody heard, because the wind dragged my voice away.

We were too far from the shore. Nobody saw us, and in my heart I knew that nobody was coming to my rescue.

My brother again grabbed me and held me under (over 8 times now), but this time something happened. Mum suddenly saw what happened, and called for him to come to her. (I didn’t see this of course, I heard about it afterward.) All I knew was that he let go of me, as a waves went over me, and I popped up into glorious air. And he was somewhere else, out of reach of me, and mum was calling him. He was in big trouble. I was much closer to shore than I was before he pushed me under the last time and I was able to catch a wave in.

He ended up being barely punished for the incident, because mother felt sorry for him. I should have told her what happened, but I didn’t. She wouldn’t have believed me over him. She never did.

It was only recently I was able to go back and unpack that memory in counselling. One thing it confirmed for me was that God did hear that little girl’s screams for help, and He didn’t abandon me in my darkest moment. As petrifying as it was to go back, I was comforted by that. Because God still loved me and was looking out for me, even then.

To this day I know the only reason I am still alive is because God spared my life that day.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Ben Simpson

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Ben Simpson

When he was 18 years old, Ben Simpson shot both of his parents multiple times, killing his father and seriously injuring his mother.

Ben Simpson's violent attack on his parents was featured in Kathleen M. Heide's book "Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents."
Ben Simpson’s violent attack on his parents was featured in Kathleen M. Heide’s book “Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents.”

Growing up, Ben had only one friend — a neighborhood kid named Jim. The two boys were friends for over 10 years. Ben also had only one girlfriend, and they dated for a mere 2 or 3 months. They broke up 10 months prior to the attack. Ben enjoyed outdoors activities, particularly swimming and going mudding. A family friend described Ben as “a typical teenager, a good kid” who was “never mean or nasty with his parents.” His parents were described by friends as “loving and devoted parents.” Ben attended public school until the 6th grade. After he had to repeat the 6th grade due to attention deficit disorder, however, his mother took “the time to home-school Ben” for the rest of his education.

At the age of 16, Ben began drinking. His drinking became heavy: he would consume Jack Daniels and beer alone on a daily basis. His mother “knew that Ben drank,” but never suggested to him that he had a problem. Ben also occasionally used a number of drugs, including cocaine, acid, and LSD. However, Ben never ran into trouble with the law; he was never in any gangs and he had no prior arrests as a juvenile or adult.

At the age of 17, Ben decided to learn auto mechanics so he enrolled in a vocational school. However, he had difficulty doing “the book work and the reading,” since he had “trouble focusing.” It has also been noted that Ben never “learned how to tolerate frustration and solve his problems” because his parents “over-indulged their son and tried to right his wrongs.”

On the day of the attack, Ben was distraught because his vehicle had been trashed by some people during a mudding event. His parents were “mad” and “disgusted” at him because they had specifically prohibited him from taking his vehicle to the event. Ben, however, denied personal involvement. He got “severely intoxicated” and went out with a shotgun and ammunition. When he returned him, he was still in a “delusional and enraged state” and proceeded to shoot his own parents. In a later interview it was revealed that he “had little memory of events surrounding the homicidal incident.” Ben’s father died several days after the attack. His mother, however, was able to recover, though it took several months.

Ben was charged with “capital murder in connection with the death of his father” and “attempted first-degree murder with respect to his mother.” Ben’s case was noted for its significance because “it does not fit into one of the three basic types of parricide offenders: he does not fit the profile of the severely abused child, the dangerously antisocial child, or the mentally ill child.”

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Jonathan McMullen

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Jonathan McMullen

In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.

In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.
In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.

Kristina and Andrew McMullen, Jonathan’s adopted parents, were a “devoutly religious family” who had “faith in God and Jesus Christ.” They moved to Elgin a few years prior to the attack on account of health problems (which the higher elevation of Elgin alleviated). They took Jonathan and his two biological brothers in as foster children in 1999 and then adopted them slightly more than a year prior to the attack. The McMullens had one biological son, 2 years older than Jonathan. 56-year-old Kristina, a professional teacher, homeschooled all the boys.

According to reports, Jonathan “was a good kid.” In his early childhood he attended Elgin Elementary School and was described as a “quiet, shy, polite” kid who “was never in [the superintendent’s] office for discipline.” But he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD), a disorder that “can cause tremendous behavioral problems.” The “distorted reasoning of the brain affected by FASD” has been blamed as a cause of Jonathan’s actions.

On the night of the murder, Jonathan and a friend of his were talking about using his mother’s car to drive to a nearby city. Jonathan was afraid they might get caught taking the car, so he decided to shoot his family.  His original plan was to kill them with knives, but he decided on a rifle instead so they “would die more quickly.” He threw something at his mother’s door to wake her and, when she came out, he shot her 5 times. Woken by the sound of the gunshots, his father and brother came into his room. Jonathan shot his brother twice and his father once. Kristina died. His 55-year-old father Andrew and 12-year-old brother Jack were airlifted to Tucson Medical Center and survived. Jonathan’s 9-year-old brother Joe was unharmed as he was spending the night at a friend’s house.

Jonathan was charged with first degree murder of his mother and attempted first degree murder of his father and brother. In December 2002, Jonathan pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Michael Mason

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Michael Mason

In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.

In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.
In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.

Michael shot his mom Melissa around 11:30 am one morning. He then fled his home and ran to a friend’s house. Melissa was fortunately able to call 911. Michael was arrested 1 1/2 hours later after a flurry of law enforcement officers descended upon the home.

Michael had a tough family life and a history of acting out. A public defender, David Longo, also said that “Mason has some psychiatric issues that haven’t been properly handled.” On a previous occasion Michael stole a car and drove the vehicle from Ohio to Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also had trouble in public schools, which ultimately resulted in him being removed from the Willard City School system to be homeschooled by his mother. Peers described him as “always kind of quiet” and someone who “wrote poems to girls”; they did not expect to “see the violence in him.”

Melissa was rushed by a medical helicopter to a nearby hospital. She survived and was in good condition by the night after the attack.

Michael was charged with attempted murder. He originally pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity,” but a clinical psychologist determined he was not insane at the time of the attempted murder. In May of 2013, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 5 years of probation after his prison sentence.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Cheyne Kehoe

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Cheyne Kehoe

Like his older brother Chevie, Cheyne was homeschooled and inculcated into the white supremacy beliefs of his parents.

Cheyne Kehoe was sentenced in 1998 to more than 24 years in prison for attempted murder.
Cheyne Kehoe was sentenced in 1998 to more than 24 years in prison for attempted murder.

Despite his own extremism, Cheyne ultimately became disturbed by his older brother’s violence after his brother “began talking of killing their parents and his own wife,” as well as “taking a sexual interest in Cheyne’s wife.” Cheyne was the one who turned his brother in to the authorities.

After his involvement in the police shootout in 1997 with his brother Chevie and his connection to the Aryan Peoples Republic (considered a terrorist cell), Cheyne was featured on America’s Most Wanted. He later turned himself in to authorities. Cheyne was sentenced in 1998 to more than 24 years in prison for attempted murder. This sentence was reduced to 11 years because he had turned his brother in as well.

Upon being released from prison, Cheyne moved with his father Kirby from Washington to Arizona. Despite being banned from owning firearms as convicted felons, they began stockpiling weapons. Cheyne and his father Kirby were consequently arrested again in September of 2013 on “federal firearms charges,” after a raid on their sprawling ranch in Arizona turned up “dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Kishon Green

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Kishon Green

In February 2008, 34-year-old Kishon Green stabbed his 10-year-old son and his son’s 13-year-old half-brother to death.

In February 2008, 34-year-old Kishon Green stabbed his 10-year-old son and his son's 13-year-old half-brother to death.
In February 2008, 34-year-old Kishon Green stabbed his 10-year-old son and his son’s 13-year-old half-brother to death.

Kishon’s parents, James and Rachel Green, said they tried to teach Kishon as a kid to “live based on the Bible’s teachings” and had “love and affection” for him. Growing up, Kishon had difficulties with school, his IQ being 70 — “the generally recognized borderline for mental retardation.” As a young child, he ranked low on tests in elementary and middle public schools. He eventually was withdrawn from school and homeschooled for his high school years, eventually receiving his high school diploma as a homeschooler.

Kishon had a long history of cocaine and alcohol abuse. He personally blamed the murders on his drug use, explaining that, “I have a heart. I’m not a cold-blooded killer.”

Three weeks before the killings, Kishon had moved back in with the boys’ mother, Tiffany Courtney. The day of the murders, he had borrowed Tiffany’s car for a job interview and then picked up the boys at school. He killed the boys, hid their bodies in a closet and a bathroom, and then proceeded to pick up Tiffany from work. After getting in an argument with her, he attacked her as well, stabbing her repeatedly as well as striking her with a baseball bat. He smoked a cigarette, washed his hands, changed his clothes, and then left Tiffany’s apartment. Tiffany managed to call 911, still unaware her sons were dead.

In June 2012, despite opposition from prosecutors, a judge ruled there was “overwhelming evidence” that Kishon was “mentally retarded” and thus could not be sentenced to death. The following August, Kishon pled guilty to capital murder of the two boys and attempted murder of his girlfriend. He was sentenced to prison for life without parole.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Shanna Lynn Dreiling

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Shanna Lynn Dreiling

In May 2002, 16-year-old Shanna Lynn Dreiling from San Diego, California was shot and killed by police after she and an accomplice — dubbed “a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde” — hijacked a car, abducted two individuals, and shot one of the abductees and left him to die.

In May 2002, 16-year-old Shanna Lynn Dreiling from San Diego, California was shot and killed by police after she and an accomplice hijacked a car, abducted two individuals, and shot one of the abductees and left him to die.
In May 2002, 16-year-old Shanna Lynn Dreiling from San Diego, California was shot and killed by police after she and an accomplice hijacked a car, abducted two individuals, and shot one of the abductees and left him to die.

Shanna lived in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego. She was described by family and friends as “an outgoing and nurturing teenager who loved shopping and clothes” and “wanted to grow up to be a writer or a school teacher.” At the age of 4 she lived with her grandparents. She did not know her birth father until the age of 10 and her mother was going through a divorce with another man. She was enrolled in public school as a child and was popular there.

At the age of 10, Shanna began exhibiting self-destructive behavior as a result of numerous life traumas, including the loss of her beloved uncle to AIDS, her mom getting re-married, and the loss of her grandfather to lymphoma. During her freshman year in high school, Shanna “had fallen in with the meth crowd.” Her family noticed, however, and put her in counseling and changed schools a number of times.

In 2001, Shanna’s family decided to homeschool her. While this seemed to help for a while, it unfortunately enabled her to rekindle her drug use. Mary Ann Smith, a mentor of Shanna’s, said that, “They shouldn’t have let her do home school. There is too much free time… [Shanna’s] mother couldn’t make her stay home and do her work. They shouldn’t have let her out of their sight.”

On the day of her death, Shanna and 25-year-old Aaron Palacios of Mira Mesa went on a crime spree. They kidnapped a college student from San Diego State University at a gas station, hijacked his car, then shot him in the shoulder and left him on the side of the road. (The student survived.) Then they drove to the home of Grant Carr, a biomedical researcher, and held him hostage. They forced Grant into his station wagon and prepared to leave in it. Grant’s wife managed to escape and called 911. As Shannon and Aaron were preparing to leave with Grant, police arrived and shot out the station wagon’s tires. After a 3-hour standoff (during which Grant escaped), Shannon raised a gun to Aaron’s head and was then shot five times by police.

An autopsy report done on Shannon determined she was under the influence of numerous stimulants, including methamphetamine.

In February 2003, Shanna’s family filed a claim of $10,000,000 against San Diego police. Her family alleged the police used excessive force and lacked cause  to shoot the teenager, saying Shanna did not raise her gun until after officers began firing. Aaron, Shanna’s accomplice, was charged the previous month with attempted murder and kidnapping. On May 25, 2003, he was sentenced to 5 consecutive life terms.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Lukah Probzeb Chang

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Lukah Probzeb Chang

In August 2013, police in Pendleton, Oregon, arrested 23-year-old Lukah Probzeb Chang (also known as Danny Wu) for murdering one young woman and attempting to murder another.

In August 2013, police in Pendleton, Oregon arrested 23-year-old Lukah Probzeb Chang for both murder and attempted murder.
In August 2013, police in Pendleton, Oregon arrested 23-year-old Lukah Probzeb Chang for both murder and attempted murder.

Lukah grew up on a North Carolina farm and his father was the pastor of a Baptist church. He was homeschooled and also attended a private Christian school his senior year from which he was expelled. In 2006, his family moved to Thailand for a year as Christian missionaries to set up a church in a refugee camp. After being expelled from private school his senior year, he joined the military. He served in the Marines at the Marine Corps Base Camp in Pendleton, California but deserted his post as of July 9, 2012. He then moved from his home in Oceanside, California, turning up in Oregon.

On August 14, 2012, Lukah stabbed a 19-year-old motel maid, Amyjane Brandhagen, to death. Almost a year later, on August 9, 2013, he attempted to beat another woman, 53-year-old Karen Lange, to death with a metal pipe. Karen was jogging on a public jogging path. Police were originally at a loss to solve the motel murder; DNA, however, linked the motel room to the pipe used in the jogging attack. Video surveillance from the jogging attack identified Lukah, then known as a homeless person who went by “Danny Wu.” Lukah decided to hide at the Pendleton Convention Center, where two food service workers discovered him in a kitchen and reported him to the police.

During his trial, Lukah never explained why he murdered the first woman and attempted to murder the second woman. According to police, he “did not appear to suffer from mental illness, alcohol or drug problems,” though he “regularly warned people to stay away from him.”

Lukah pleaded guilty to both murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to prison for 35 years to life. He will be 58 before he can ask the Oregon Parole Board for reassessment.

View the case index here.