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Fire Will Burn: A Lesson That Ella Made Sure Would Not Happen Again To Her Children

(Although this is a true story, the names were changed to protect the privacy of the innocent.)
It was early Sunday morning in the early 1960s. She sat there calmly in my bedroom. It was partially lit by a night lite. They had not seen me when they came in. I stood quietly in the corner across the room hidden by the bunk beds. Ms. Ella sat in the chair as the police officer squatted down to talk to her.
There was no fuss, no tears as she made her admission. She did not know what was ahead of her, but she certainly knew that what was behind her had brought her to this moment.

A red bone, Ms. Ella was a very attractive woman despite the traumatic life she had led as a wife and a mother of four. Ella was married to Eat Em Up Jackson. It was an odd combination, yet as you know from the Color Purple a very common one.

Eat Em Up Jackson was a simple man who managed his money well. A man of few words, he personified the saying you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. A very strong man in stature he wore suspenders, along with long johns, smoked a pipe and worked on his property when he wasn’t working at the post office. Know by his co-workers as Eat Em Up Jackson for eating out of a pale, Mr. Herman also had the reputation of never finishing any project he would start on his property including a garage he was building for his car. This of course brought on a confrontation between Herman and his next door neighbor an engineering professor and his wife a public health nurse. Cited over and over again with housing code violations, the city forced him to tear down a few of the projects including the garage.

Mr. Herman could not understand how anyone could tell him what to do with his property. That also included his wife and children. Appearing to be old enough to be her father, Mr. Herman treated both she and the children like property. This is where the law was on his side, and despite the comings and goings of patrol cars, he did not relent for one moment his controlling ways that included rules that were asinine rituals from slavery. These rituals ran afoul of the 1960s quest for freedom by all black Americans.

Mr. Herman required everyone to eat when he ate. He kept a lock and chain around the refrigerator and deep freezer. If the children did not rise to eat at 5 AM in the morning, they would not be able to eat again until he came home for lunch. He would take out enough from the refrigerator in the morning for her to prepare lunch. During his lunch stop, he would take out enough for her to prepare for dinner. This was the regiment to be followed day in and day out that she would endure reluctantly. During the summers, Ms. Ella and her children would eat breakfast at our house.

Mr. Herman controlled his money and never would allow money to be spent on anything he thought to be unnecessary in life. Maybe this is why the oldest child started stealing. Always driving a Cadillac, he was a man of means, but you would not know it by the way he treated his family. When all the kids had bicycles, yoyos, hoola hoops, roller skates etc., the Jackson kids could only watch from the sidelines.

Ms. Ella fought hard to protect her children. She had even fled Mr. Herman’s bondage. Without any marketable skills other than being a pretty female, she fell prey to another man who took her off to New York, and abandoned her with the child she bore for him. Returning from New York, there was no refuge with her parents. In their eyes, Ella was a married woman and belonged with her husband and children. With no say over her life, accordance to law and custom she returned to him with her son by another man.

Ironically, Ms. Ella, a woman of color could now eat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and she could register to vote, but she could not get this man to treat as a human being.

Between the arguing and fighting, there was another son born as a result of this union. Disappointed with the status of the older son and daughter, Mr. Herman took matters into his own hands and decided to raise this child himself. First lesson: fire will burn. One morning as they arose for breakfast, Mr. Herman took the young child over to the hot stove and planted the child’s hands on the red hot eye. After he left for work, Ms. Ella in tears brought the crying child along with the other children to our house. The women in the neighborhood came together with some sort of homemade remedy by way of a salve to cover the child’s hands and calm him down. This rubbing compound was placed on the child’s hand throughout the day for days until the hands appeared to heal. Ms. Ella life would not be the same after this day. Perhaps this is when her own fire will burn plan started to come together which led her to my bedroom on that early cold winter’s morning.

On this particular evening, Ms. Ella had packed up clothing for the children. After dinner she had the children to retire for bed. Eat Em Up Herman went to bed and was thought to be fast asleep. She got up dressed herself and the children and got them out of the house. She dossed the sleeping quarters of the house with kerosene and struck a match. With the fire a blaze, she came out of the house and was crossing the street headed towards our house. My mother and another neighbor who worked the second shift saw the blaze. At first they thought the fire place had a nice fire that was to be appreciated on this cold night. They soon knew that it was a house fire when they saw Ms. Ella with the children. They, however did not know she had set the fire in an effort to show Eat Em Up That fire will burn. The fire department was called and the neighbors west of the burning house was evacuated from their home.

Eat Um Up escaped without harm. The firemen arrived immediately and extinguished the fire. The blaze left some damage but not enough to render the property unlivable.

The preliminary investigation revealed arson. Eat Em Up without hesitation agreed and pointed the finger at his wife. Ms. Ella was interviewed in my bedroom. During this time with no fuss she revealed Mr. Herman’s fire will burn lesson. That barbaric lesson had pushed her over the edge. Ella who admitted to setting the fire decided to set Herman’s asinine self on fire. The police officer nodded his head to reflect his understanding. Perhaps thinking that she had been through enough, he was very kind to her. The law certainly was not on her side, but instead on the side of a man who appeared to be insane. The officer would not cuff her in front of her children. They walked together out of the house and Ms. Ella was placed inside of the police car and taken away.

The three children remained with their father in the same prison like atmosphere. The other child went to live with his paternal grandmother while Ms. Ella served her prison term for arson. She would lose her privilege to vote and temporarily the custody of her kids.

While in prison Eat Em Up was granted a divorce and custody of the three children.

Upon leaving prison with some marketable job skills, Ms. Ella was finally free. Ella met a nice man who stood by her financially and emotionally as she fought and won back the custody of her children. They married, bought a nice home, and she for the first time had her own a car and true freedom from Eat Em Up’s abuse.

I would love to say that they all lived happily ever after, but the scars of abuse runs deep. The oldest son ended up in prison for bank robbery, and was serving his sentence as Ms. Ella was put to rest seventeen years later. The son born outside of the marriage overdosed on drugs a few years after Ms. Ella’s passing.

Eat Em Up Jackson never remarried. As the grandson of a slave, he continued working on his property and bumping heads with code enforcement and his next door neighbors. It was not that Eat Em Up was an evil man, he was just repeating what he had been taught from his ancestors who adopted the abuse from slavery.

Today some of these abusive rituals are still practiced in the Black community. It’s time to lay these rituals to rest and stop the abuse.

Also read Michael Eric Dyson’s New York Times Opinion: Punishment or Child Abuse?

Posted 1 month, 1 week ago.

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Oh No She Didn’t ! Woman Severs Husband’s Penis and…

Remember Lorena Bobbitt? Lorena was the Ecuador born wife who severed her husband’s penis as he slept in 1993. Lorena now has company in the category of penis severing.

Yes folks, it has happened again! By the way, this one tops the Bobbitt case.

It appears that a dispute over an “inappropriate relationship” may be the motive behind a Garden Grove woman who has been charged with cutting off her husband’s penis.

A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity in the ongoing case said the couple had argued earlier in the day and that the wife was angry at the husband over a relationship. Police said that when they confronted the woman, she said her husband “deserved it.”

Authorities had earlier alleged that the wife, Catherine Kieu Becker, got into an argument with her husband about “friends staying at the residence,” according to a statement by prosecutors.

On Wednesday, Orange County prosecutors charged the wife with two felony counts for allegedly cutting off her husband’s penis and throwing it in a garbage disposal after drugging him and tying him to a bed.

The couple who had been married for a year and half began divorce proceedings in May. The court record suggests that the husband initiated the divorce.

Becker, 48, faces one felony count each of torture and aggravated mayhem with sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury and personal use of a knife. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

She has been held without bail since her arrest Monday night. Her arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday in Westminster, where she is expected to plead not guilty.

Becker, a real estate broker, lived with her husband, identified by prosecutors only as John Doe, in a Garden Grove apartment.

The husband told police that his wife served him dinner and that he went to bed about 9 p.m. While he was sleeping, she “tied the victim’s legs and arms to the four corners of the bed with nylon ropes,” prosecutors said.

The victim told authorities that when he woke up, his wife pulled down his pants, “grabbing the victim’s penis and severing it with a knife.” She then took the penis to the kitchen and threw it in the garbage disposal, “turning it on and mutilating the organ.”

She then called 911. On arrival the officers who probably thought that they had seen everything, found penis-less John tied to a bed and bleeding from his crotch. Ouch!

John Doe was taken to UCI Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery, but the severed mangled organ pulled from the garbage disposal could not be reattached.

In addition to Lorena Bobbitt an Alaskan woman severed her boyfriend’s penis. In 2005, Kim Tran cut her boyfriend’s penis off and flushed it down the toilet. Authorities somehow managed to recover the member and reattach it. As you remember authorities searched a field to recover John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis. It was also reattached.

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    Posted 3 years, 3 months ago.

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    Peace, Happiness & Harmony Was Not In The Cards For Murdered Marriage Counselor

    Forty two year old Tonya Hunter of Bedford Heights, Ohio tried to help many couples save their marriage. Unfortunately she was unable to save her own.

    Maurice Lyons

    Maurice Lyons

    The marriage counselor was stabbed to death in her home by her estranged husband just hours before she was to file for a divorce. Maurice Lyons 38, has been charged with aggravated murder.

    Hunter’s 4-year-old son was dropped off near a bar after she was killed Sunday night in the Cleveland suburb, according to media reports. The boy who was not Lyons’ child led police to his mother’s body.

    “He was able to tell the police his address and where his mother was,” Leroy Hunter, the victim’s uncle, told Cleveland TV station WKYC-Ch. 3. “So the violent act had to have happened in front of this child so we know that this child is traumatized.”

    Lyons was arrested Monday in downtown Cleveland and charged with aggravated murder and domestic violence, the TV station reported.

    The couple had been married only seven months. According to a report in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hunter met Lyons in an anger management class.

    Hunter had filed two domestic violence reports against Lyons, The Plain Dealer noted, citing a recent police document that said: “The defendant (Lyons) who appeared high on drugs moved close to Tanya Hunter/spouse demanding money in an intimidating manner. The defendant then pushed Hunter/spouse against the kitchen sink.”

    Lyons has a criminal record in Missouri, Illinois and Ohio, the paper said.

    Hunter earned a master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in social science and started her own counseling practice in 2007, Success 1 Services, according to the company’s website.

    “My goal is to help individuals, couples and families restore to peace, happiness and harmony,” she wrote on a Psychology Today website advertising her services. Apparently peace, happiness and harmony could not be restored to her violently brief marriage to Lyons.

    Will domestic violence ever end?

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      Posted 4 years, 3 months ago.

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      Enough Is Enough: Dwayne Wade’s Divorce Hell World

      Siohvaughn Wade (right)  Dwayne Wade & Gabrielle Union (left)

      Siohvaughn Wade (right) Dwayne Wade & Gabrielle Union (left)

      Wishing something not to happen won’t necessarily stop it from happening. That is all too true when it comes to divorce.

      All too often the proceeding becomes complicated and nasty, especially in the case of celebrities.

      Such is the case of Miami Heat basketball star Dwayne Wade and Siohvaughn Wade, his high school sweet heart. They are currently locked into a nasty divorce which recently spilled over on Wade’s Hollywood girlfriend Gabrielle Union.

      Last week, Siohvaughn Wade filed a lawsuit in Chicago contending that her estrange hubby’s relationship with the actress was causing the couple’s sons emotional distress, alleging, for example, that Wade and Union “engaged in sexual foreplay” in front of the boys. Both Wade and Union shot back denying the allegations by labeling the lawsuit “baseless and meritless.”

      Siohvaughn Wade is making Dwayne’s world a complete hell. According to James Pritikin, Mr. Wade’s attorney, Siohvaughn Wade has repeatedly thwarted Dwyane Wade’s efforts to visit his children or talk with them on the phone. Pritikin said she even once called police when Dwyane Wade showed up at the couple’s Miami home to pick them up, falsely telling officers there was a warrant out for the basketball player’s arrest.

      Dwayne’s hell may be coming to the end of the road. The soon to be ex-Mrs. Dwayne Wade has hit a brick wall with the court which has had enough of her non complying behavior. The straw that broke the camel’s back came on Monday when Siohvaughn failed to show up for a Monday divorce hearing.

      Chicago’s Cook County Circuit Judge Marya Nega ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Wade’s estranged wife into custody for her failure to appear.

      The court has grown tired of what Judge Nega describes as a pattern of behavior by Siohvaughn Wade throughout the contentious divorce from Mr. Wade who is also a Chicago native.

      “When things don’t go according to Mrs. Wade’s way all of a sudden the phone’s turned off,” said Nega, clearly exasperated when Siohvaughn Wade’s attorney explained she had not been able to reach her client.

      Mr. Pritikin had planned to ask in Monday’s scheduled hearing that his client be given physical custody of the couple’s two boys, ages 8 and 2.

      Pritikin has also requested that the judge orders the state’s attorney’s office to launch a criminal investigation. In court documents, his office said Siohvaughn Wade is “unstable, dishonest, and unbalanced,” and that more time with her “would seriously endanger the minor children’s physical, mental, moral and emotional health.”

      Acknowledging Siohvaughn Wade’s refusal to comply with other court orders, Judge Nega said, Siohvaughn Wade has not followed an order to make sure the couple’s two children talk to their father every day. The Judge also noted the children were not at their Chicago school last week to be picked up by Dwyane Wade’s sister as ordered by the court.

      Looking at what is in the best interest of the children, Judge Nega said her main concern was what the ongoing divorce was doing to the children and suggested she may order custody be given to Dwyane Wade.

      “Maybe it’s time for the kids to go live with Dad for a month or two,” the judge said.

      Nega said she would likely schedule a custody hearing for the summer, then deal with the rest of the case later.

      In Siohvaughn Wade defense, Marsha Fisher, her attorney tried to take some blame for her failure to appear. Ms. Fisher said Mrs. Wade had learned Fisher had been in a car accident and apparently thought she did not have to show up in court.

      “The fact that you had a car accident does not excuse Mrs. Wade not being here,” the judge said.

      Unless the bench warrant is quashed, Siohvaughn Wade will have to post $10,000 bond to be released. It is expected that Mrs. Wade will be presented to the court today by her legal representation who will motion the judge to quash the bench warrant. Whether the judge will grant the relief depends on the reasonableness of Mrs. Wade’s failure to appear.

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        Posted 4 years, 5 months ago.

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        Domestic Violence Knows No Race and Apparently Age: 2 Boys Found Dead; Mom Rips The Courts

        Michael Connolly and his two sons, Jack (foreground) and Duncan, found dead in what authorities describe as  murder suicide

        Michael Connolly and his two sons, Jack (foreground) and Duncan, found dead in what authorities describe as murder suicide

        Amy Leichtenberg worried this day would come, and she begged the judicial system to prevent it.

        In court documents dating back to 2005, she detailed her estranged husband’s threats against her family and fought unsuccessfully to keep him from having unsupervised visits with their two sons. Michael Connolly violated the orders of protection against him six times, police records said, and he often vowed to kill himself rather than be separated from the boys.

        Connolly, 40, disappeared with Duncan, 9, and Jack, 7, on March 8, prompting a nationwide search. Their bodies were discovered Sunday near a Christmas tree farm in a remote area of Putnam County.

        Police described the deaths as a double homicide and a suicide, but released few details about the killings. The boys’ bodies were found in the back seat of their father’s 1991 Dodge Dynasty, while Connolly’s body was discovered about 60 yards away.

        Leichtenberg declined to comment Monday, but she issued a statement lashing out at the judicial system that allowed Connolly unsupervised visits.

        A bereathed Amy Leichtenberg sits by her kitchen table in LeRoy, Ill. near photographs of her mudered sons

        A bereathed Amy Leichtenberg sits by her kitchen table in LeRoy, Ill. near photographs of her murdered sons

        “No parent should have to bury their babies,” she said. “Duncan and Jack, Mommy loves you to the heavens and back.

        “I feel that the judicial system failed me,” she said. “I pray that the courts listen to the warnings from other parents like me.”

        Though Connolly and Leichtenberg lived in northwest suburban Algonquin for several years, much of their bitter custody battle took place in LeRoy, a small town near Bloomington where Leichtenberg moved with the boys after ending her marriage. She received orders of protection against Connolly there, including a current order, barring him from contact with her.

        Connolly, an unemployed pharmaceutical salesman, violated the order six times but was only charged with four misdemeanors between July 2006 and October 2007, McLean County State’s Atty. William Yoder said. He met with Connolly for an hour a few months ago at Connolly’s request and believed him to be “unbalanced,” Yoder said.

        He declined to discuss his office’s specific involvement in the custody battle.

        “This was a tragic event,” Yoder said. “This had the worst possible outcome.”

        Police began a search for Connolly and the boys three weeks ago when he failed to return them after a scheduled visit. McLean Sheriff Mike Emery conceded there was a delay in the Amber Alert about the abduction, saying the department’s initial attempt did not meet all of the criteria required for the notification. Pressed to discuss the delay, the sheriff said he would not criticize the investigation.

        At LeRoy Elementary School, where Duncan was in 3rd grade and Jack was in 2nd, the brothers’ desks had been left untouched since their disappearance. Blue and green ribbons, the boys’ favorite colors, were tied to trees, and parents taped pictures of the missing brothers inside their car windshields.

        “In small towns something like this affects the whole town, not just one pocket or one neighborhood,” LeRoy Supt. Gary Tipsord said. “We had prepared for a lot of different outcomes, but I don’t think any of us expected this.”

        Putnam County authorities discovered Connolly’s car about 5 p.m. Sunday near a Christmas tree farm about 8 miles south of Hennepin. Police say they do not know of any connection between the family and the secluded site.

        Police would not say how long the bodies had been there, if they suffered obvious injuries or whether a weapon was recovered.

        Connolly’s aunt, Joyce Connolly, said his family rarely saw him after the couple separated.

        “I feel sorry for Michael,” she said. “I know that sounds terrible, but he must have been so tormented.”

        Court records and police accounts portray Connolly as an abusive husband who tried to force Leichtenberg to stay in their marriage. He threatened to cut open her and her parents and once told Jack that he would find “a younger, prettier, nicer mama,” according to court documents.

        When Connolly sensed Leichtenberg was about to leave him in 2006, she said he pressured her to sign a paper giving him custody of the boys if they divorced. He also demanded his wife make a videotape in which she claimed to abuse her sons, Leichtenberg said. It’s not clear she did either.

        “He went into a rage again and told me if I didn’t get home he would kill me. I went home, and he told me if I ever take his boys again he would hunt me down and kill me and my parents and cut us open,” Amy Leichtenberg wrote in her petition for an emergency order of protection in July 2005 in McHenry County Circuit Court.

        Neighbors realized something was wrong with the couple’s marriage shortly after they moved into their Algonquin neighborhood in 2003. Friends described Connolly as “controlling” and “manipulative” toward his wife and sons. Leichtenberg often would use neighbors’ telephones to call her parents because her husband didn’t like her speaking with them.

        “She could never live a normal life,” former next-door neighbor Jim Gerardi said. “That’s the sad part about it, because he was watching every single move she made.”

        While Connolly was out of town on a business trip in 2006, neighbors said they helped Leichtenberg pack her car, and she and the kids sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter.

        Leichtenberg filed for divorce in May 2006 in McHenry Circuit Court. In her petition, she described hundreds of harassing phone messages her husband left for her and her family.

        In the messages, Connolly outlined stipulations for the divorce: He wanted visitation with his sons alone and one day a week with Amy alone and promised not to hurt them, court documents said.

        Leichtenberg withdrew the petition without explanation in December 2006. She returned to the family’s home in Algonquin, but neighbors said she hid inside the house and rarely socialized after the reconciliation.

        The couple separated again a short time later, and Leichtenberg moved to LeRoy, where a bitter custody battle ignited. She wrote in court documents in April 2007 that he had called her home and her cell at least 18 times.

        In a Tribune interview after the boys disappeared, Leichtenberg said Connolly was granted unsupervised visitation rights in December. She said she begged the McLean judge to deny the request.

        “All Michael would do is file his own motions, and the judge was basically tired of him and gave him what he wanted.”

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          Posted 5 years, 7 months ago.

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