Thursday, April 28, 2011

More about me! And my boy!

So yesterday I blogged a little about my first day of motherhood, and how I was thrown an enormous curveball from mother nature.

Unless you've watched your child suffer, I doubt there is any way to explain to someone else the depth of pain that causes in a mother (or father).  Ian's entire existence was suffering as an infant.  The feeding tube in his belly looked like a hose--it was about a foot to 18 inches long, and we would roll it into a coil and pin it to his undershirt.  He couldn't lie on his belly as babies do because it caused him so much discomfort.  That resulted in a domino effect of physical delays for him.

Ian had the tube in place until he was almost 8 months old.  He couldn't lie on his belly, so he couldn't begin to creep or crawl.  He also could not hold up his own head until he was 4 months old.  He had a condition known as hypotonia (floppy muscles), which made everything so difficult for him.  We had him in physical therapy to help strengthen him and to assist him with his coordination.  Ian didn't begin to sit up until he was about 10 months old, and didn't walk until he was 18 months old.

Oftentimes, Ian's tube would come out, so I had to learn how to reinsert it.  Imagine having to place a tube into a hole that would go into a baby's stomach; that's what I had to do.  I was so afraid I'd hurt him.

His esophagus had a stricture (tightened area with no peristalsis ability) in it where the surgery was performed.  This resulted in Ian having choking issues every time he tried to eat solid food.  When he was 2 months old, he had to have the esophagus dilated.  The doctors had placed a long piece of surgerical thread through his nose, down his throat, and out the hole where the G tube was.  They had to tie the string in a knot and every time he swallowed, the string would be swallowed.  I can't tell you how many well meaning old ladies would try to pull the string off his face.  Arrrghh. 

When he had the dilitation done, the nurse told me to wait in the waiting room.  I asked why because I wanted to stay with him.  She insisted that I could not.  It took a very long time, and when the doctor and nurses came out to talk to me, they had tears in their eyes.  They were covered in blood.  When they handed my baby back to me, he was like an animal.  I never saw eyes like that on a person.  They were like the eyes of a scared rabbit.  He was inconsolable.  The nurse just said to me that the procedure was barbaric and she wished there was something they could have done to help comfort him.

To this day, I have no idea what happened in that room.  That night, he was still in this terrible state, so I called his pediatrician.  He told me to bring him to the ER, where he decided to perform a lumbar puncture.  This was 'in case' Ian had meningitis.  The trauma of that procedure after what he had gone through earlier made my poor little boy almost go into shock.  It took him days to begin to act normal again.  He didn't have meningitis.

When Ian was 8 months old, he came down with a deadly case of bacterial pneumonia.  He had to be hospitalized for four weeks over the Fourth of July holiday.  After that, he was sick with bronchitis and/or pneumonia over and over again.  He would be hospitalized when he was in 3rd grade, again, with pneumonia.  Most of the time, I recognized the symptoms and caught it in time to start him on antibiotics before he had to be hospitalized.

As a baby and toddler, Ian had very little coordination.  He would fall constantly and never put his hands out to catch himself.  He hit his head incredibly hard off cement numerous times.  The doctors said he didn't have the instinct to catch himself because he had so many developmental delays.  When he was 13, he was playing tag in the yard, tripped, and fell hard.  He began to vomit, so I took him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

When he was in 8th grade, he was playing Red Rover, and was knocked down, he broke the humurous bone in his arm.  Then, a few years ago, he was running a 5K with my husband.  When the starting whistle went off, I saw them both take off, but lost sight of Ian because of the throng of people.  I didn't realize until the came into the finish line that he was injured. 

At the start, he tripped over someone's foot, fell, cut up his face, nose, hands, knees, and elbows.  The next day he awoke seeing double.  The doctor confirmed another concussion.

When Ian was learning to talk, he was unintelligible.  I knew it was bad when even I could seldom make out what he was saying.  I had him tested by a speech therapist at age 18 months.  She encouraged me to help him with certain skills and return in a year.  A year later, there was improvement in that he had begun to string words together, but his ennunciation remained very poor.

We put him into speech therapy.  We had his hearing tested on a few occasions.  He always passed the hearing screenings.  When he was in kindergarten, his teacher complained on an almost daily basis about his lack of listening skills.  She was driving me crazy with all her complaints because at home he seemed to listen fine.

The following year, his teacher called me and asked if I would give her permission to have an audiologist do an in depth examination of Ian.  She didn't think he could hear much.  I agreed.  It turned out that Ian had very poor hearing.  No hearing at all in the right ear, and limited in the left.

We spent the next couple of years taking him back and forth to Pittsburgh to a hearing specialist, who in the end could never find a cause for his hearing loss.

Ian wore a hearing aide, but when he was old enough to make decisions for himself, he abandoned it.  To this day, he refuses to wear it.  Remarkably, he has succeeded quite well at relationships, school, work, and other areas.  I do wish he'd wear the aide, but he's very stubborn. 

When he was born, I thought somehow his defect was my fault.  I took such good care of myself.  I didn't smoke, had never used drugs, didn't even use medications for anything legitimate, didn't drink alcohol, and not even coffee.  What did I do to cause this?!

Thankfully, a very wise nurse who taught my childbirth class talked to me.  She informed me that TEF/TEA is a random syndrome that is often found in firstborn males.  There is no reason it happens.  There is no one to blame.  It happens when the esophagus and windpipe are developing.  Interestingly, at the time of pregnancy when those tubes are developing, I began to bleed and ended up in the ER.  My doctor said my body might be miscarrying and that the chances of the pregnancy continuuing was 50/50.  I wonder if my body was aware that something was amiss?  No matter, I am thankful I did not miscarry!!!

Ian is so intelligent!  He is talented in writing, the art of persuasion, and games of strategy.  He has an almost perfect memory.  He has taught me so much about life!  I've never seen anyone with as many friends as Ian.  He is very popular and likeable. 

He has a witty sense of humor, and is a great big brother to his five younger siblings.  He is generous with them--buying them gifts and sharing his video games and systems freely with them. 

I'm so happy and proud of my son!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Something you might not know about me...

When I was just a wee little girl--just three years old--I owned 3 dolls named 'Big', 'Medium', and 'Little'.  I remember my mom asking me what their names were, and 'voila!' that was when they were christened.  (You can guess that one was big, one was smaller, and one was very small.)  I recall Mom chuckling at that.

I was already very much aware of how much I wanted to be a mommy, even at that age!!

As I grew, my favorite toys remained dolls, and I accumulated over sixty dolls throughout my childhood.  Each one was special to me in its own way.  I dreamt of someday having my own 'real' dollies to take care of.

John and I met through Buhl Summer Playhouse, and within two weeks, we decided we were going to get married.  (I was 17.)  We waited for four years, of course, because I've never been that impulsive!!  I warned him that he had better want a houseful of kids because I did.  He said that he would love that, and hoped for at least five kids.  Done deal!!

We were married on June 8, 1985, and I was overjoyed.  Our wedding was so meaningful and memorable.  Everything was just the way I'd hoped it would be.  The honeymoon was one of the funnest times of my entire life.  We drove to Florida, went to Disneyworld and Epcot, then drove back to PA.  It was truly wonderful.

John and I conceived our first child the following February.  I was beyond ecstatic.  I loved being pregnant.  We attended childbirth classes, I watched my 90 --something pound body round out, and I carred Ian like a basketball in my shirt! 

He was due on October 23rd, but that day came and went.  So did the next day.  And the next.  Finally, on Sunday, November 2nd, I went into labor.  I labored all night, and into the morning.

At 9:03 on Monday, November 3rd, little Ian Gerard Elliott made his grand entrance.  It went nothing like I'd planned for.  The heart monitor during my labor had indicated fetal distress, which created terrible mother distress.  My mental state was frazzled, which made dealing with my first labor and childbirth a nightmare.

Thank goodness John was there the whole time to support me because I was way beyond worried.  I felt 'out of control' with worry. 

Why was my baby completely blue?  Why was he as floppy as a dishrag?  Why couldn't he cry?  The nurses snatched him up before I could really get a good look at him.  The pediatrician was already in the room with me, examing Ian.  I finally heard something that sounded like a weak kitten mewing, it was his first sound.  To make a very long story short, they found a lung collapsed.  They operated on that.  He didn't improve.  I couldn't hold him or nurse him.  I sat in my room and sobbed.  I was deliriously tired.  I was so exhausted I didn't have the strength to walk to the nursery to see him.  I had lost a lot of blood, and was being monitored for that.

That night, the pediatrician told me that Ian would be transferred to Tod Children's hospital in Youngstown.  The diagnosis was Esophageal Atresia w/Tracheoesphogeal fistula.  "TracheoWHAT?"  They showed me a diagram.  Ian was born with an esophagus that ended in a tiny pouch in his throat.  He could never eat, and therefore, he would die if he didn't have surgery immediately.  In addition to this, his trachea (windpipe) was connected through a tube to his stomach.  This could result in a deadly problem as well--stomach acid could enter into his lungs and cause a caustic pnuemonia.

I can't begin to express the horror this news brought.  I was so ill equipped to deal with anything near this.  I was just 22, had never really been through anything that had tested me to any degree, and then: WHAM.  I don't know how I made it through the next six months.  John was a tremendous help to me, as well as my parents.  My aunts and uncles were very helpful and supportive as well.  Ian had a feeding (gastrostomy) tube inserted into his duodenum so he could be fed through that.  He had the major corrective surgery at 4 days old.  He remained in the hospital all through November, through Thanksgiving, then almost half of December.  He finally came home with us at almost six weeks of age. 

I had so wanted to breasteed my baby, but that proved to be futile.  He didn't have the strength and energy to nurse.  He had to learn to suck all over again because he lost the instinct to suck.  He had physical therapy for that, but a bottle was easier for him to get milk from, so I had to accept that and move on. 

We stayed at my parents' house the first couple of weeks that he was home because John worked long nights and I needed their help.  I had to feed him every 1 to 2 hours, and whatever he didn't take in through the bottle, I would pour down the G-tube.  If I poured to fast, he would vomit the formula up through the tube!  It was weird. 

Well, enough of my story for now...

I'll write more later....

Gotta do some housework or I won't be able to walk through the house without tripping over something.  Yikes.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Early morning quiet thoughts

Traditional Sitting Chocolate Easter Bunny, Milk ChocolateIt's Easter Monday morning, John is long gone off to work, all the kids are still asleep, and the only sounds in the house are the clicking of my keyboard, the furnace blowing, and the hamster nibbling at his seeds.  Outside the window I hear the sweet chorus of morning birds.

I'm thinking. 

I don't have to cook today.  There's leftover ham!  Yay.  And it was a good ham, too.  A little fattier than I like, but very tasty.  The gravy was saltier than I like, too, and I didn't add a grain of salt to it.  I love gravy.  I got that from my Mom.  I could eat a platefull of bread with gravy and call it dinner.  That is comfort food to the max.  There's leftover stuffing, too.  I don't make the kind in a box.  That's edible, but I like the real McCoy.  It isn't that much more time consuming to make, either. 

Easter Bunny brought a family gift--'Just Dance' for the Wii.  The kids have been thoroughly enjoying it.  I was going to play yesterday, but after having overindulged at dinner, my tummy wasn't up to jumping around.  Ha ha ha.  Maybe I'll dance with them today.

John gave me a big chocolate Philadelphia Candies bunny.  It's already gone.  No surprise there.  He knows that chocolate is my biggest weakness.  He won't eat chocolate rabbits.  I tease him about it.  He will eat chocolate in any other shape, but not in the shape of a hare.  So, I buy him eggs.  :) He got a Daffin's chocolate and peanut butter egg. 

My deceased and beloved uncle Jim used to buy large chocolate bunnies by the truckload and pass them out.  He was the most kind hearted and generous man, only one problem.  He bought the 'bargain' chocolate, which he proclaimed to be 'every bit as good' as the finer chocolates at our local candy stores.  (Daffin's and Philadelphia Candies)  I don't know if his taste buds were different than the rest of ours, but this was like comparing a Chevette to a Rolls.  They are both cars, and they can get you from one place to another, sure.  But, there's a big difference in quality.

Some of the chocolate he would buy wasn't even 'chocolate'.  If you read the ingredient label, you'd see something like this: chocolate flavored partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Just give me a chocolate scented candle to nibble on.

Uncle Jim was so good, and full of love, bless his soul.  I loved that man so much.  Once he got into a scrap with a guy and the guy called Uncle Jim an S.O.B.  Jim went back and beat the guy up, exclaiming loudly, "My mother's not a b****!!".

He always called me Marianne.  He used to pick me up and swing me in his arms when I was a little girl.  Every time he visited us, which was pretty frequent, he'd have a shiny quarter or even a dollar for me.  Sometimes he'd show up with a balsa wood airplane or a punching balloon.  When we visited him, he'd put out candy for us (or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil--LOL), or open a can of fruit and give my brothers and I big bowls of fruit cocktail or peaches.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Skeletons in and out of the closet

I just finished reading the newly released book, Bloodstains, by Jeff Mudgett.  I had planned on reviewing his book on, but realized they wouldn't let me do it!  Something about having had to purchase something first!!  Well!  Can I help it that I bought the book through his website!!?

So, here goes---

Every family has so called skeletons in its closet.  If you think yours are bad, you haven't yet become acquainted with the Mudgetts.  Not only do they have skeletons in their closet, they have them out of the closet, even in some medical schools!!!

Jeff Mudgett takes the reader through the harrowing tale of his experiences with epilepsy, a brain tumor, strange voices and murderous urges.  Jeff's ancestor, H. H. Holmes, comes to life through a mysterious diary as well as a haunting voice. 

One day I took the book with me to the school and was reading while waiting for my youngest to be dismissed.  Unbeknownst to me, my son and his girlfriend snuck up on me and tapped on the window.  I almost jumped through the roof of my vehicle!  I sternly warned them never to do that to me again if they saw me reading a book about a serial killer!

So, if you have the typical skeletons in your family tree, say a philandering grandpa or a drunk mother, don't pity yourself too much.  At least your great great grandfather didn't build a 60 room mansion for the sole purpose of torturing people to death. 


Monday, April 18, 2011


Today I received the book 'Bloodstains' in the mail that I had ordered last week.  I have only just begun to sink my teeth into it and find myself asking this question:  how much of it is fiction, and how much is reality?  I can't quite decipher yet whether this is a work of fiction, based very loosely on a real person, or whether there is more to it.  I hope it doesn't disappoint.

I gravitate towards real facts in these stories because nothing in fiction can compare!  I have just about finished reading Black Dahlia Avenger and am almost certain that this crime has been solved.  It appears that the killer was a Dr. Hodel from Los Angeles.  There was a big time cover up by the LAPD, of which the author has solid proof.  Hodel's monstrous murder of this girl, Beth Short, was only one of many.  He was a serial killer, just like H. H. Holmes. 

I've viewed the crime and autopsy photos of Beth Short (I don't advise you all do this unless you are of a strong constitution) and I observed this about her: when she was left posed in the empty lot, surrounded by unkempt grass, her freshly washed face looked almost angelic and innocent, like that of a little child.  It made me feel such sorrow and pity for her mother.  Her mouth was defaced, but I won't go into the details of what the wretched killer had done to defile and degrade poor Elizabeth Short.

The victim was subjected to some of the worst sadistic tortures I have ever heard about.  It seems unimagineable that humans are capable of such evil. 

In a cruel twist, Mrs. Short learned of her daughter's horrific demise through the press.  The newspaper reporters called her to tell her that her daughter had won a beauty contest.  They lied to ply information about Elizabeth from her!  I wanted to go back in a time machine and kick their butts!  How dare they make up a tall tale and woo her, just to shoot it all down and tell her the brutal truth later?  That's SICK!!

I'll keep you all up  to date on my thoughts regarding Bloodstains.  I'll have my nose buried in the pages for the next couple of days!!


If any of my followers is interested, there is a very comprehensive website by Steve Hodel (Dr. Hodel's son and retired LAPD detective) called  Give it a few minutes of your time, you'll find it fascinating.  If you like what you see there, why not order a copy of Black Dahlia Avenger for a fascinating and scary read? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cheap Chic, Panache on a Shoestring budget!!

I used to work for Estee Lauder as a beauty consultant and makeup artist.  It was a fun job--I always liked playing around with cosmetics.  Based on our sales, we girls would often accumulate points towards free products (called gratis).  I loved it!

What I've learned about this industry is that the drugstore brands are often equal in quality to department store brands, but the packaging is cheaper.  This isn't always the case, but in general, it is true.

I'll take that a step further and tell you about a few of my favorite bargains and how 'cheap' they were. 

I love expensive lipsticks because they have pretty and sturdy tubes.  But a lot of the time, the cheap lipsticks actually look nicer on my lips!  There is a brand called LA Colors.  I love their lipsticks!!  One of my favorite and most versatile shades is Cocoa Shimmer.  It even has a faint chocolate scent.  (Maybe that's why I like it.)

It looks natural and shimmery, not overly made up.  At $1 a tube, I can buy as many tubes in many shades that I want! 

They have a product I absolutely love (again, for one DOLLAR!!) called Mystic foundation stick.  I don't use it as a foundation, but rather, as a primer underneath my foundation.  I apply it to dark spots, wrinkles, under my eyes, etc, then I blend it before I apply my base.  It works like a charm! 

I haven't tried any of their other products, so I can't vouch for them. 

Another cheap line I like is E.L.F.  Their brushes/applicators are very high quality but cost next to nothing.  I love their stiff eyebrow/eyeliner brush.  I use it to fill in my eyebrows, and it is great!  I think it cost $1.00.

They have nice eye shadow palettes at extremely low prices.  I don't like everything in their line; some of the things I have tried did not impress me.

I bought something at Walmart called Fab shimmer pot for 88 cents!  I love this product!  It is a glittery powder in a tiny plastic pot with a pink powder puff on top.  It can be used anywhere on the body.  I use it to give my cheekbones and nose a little glimmer, and on special occasions I apply it to my hair with a powder brush.  In certain lights, my hair sparkles!  Unfortunately, WalMart no longer carries this.  Here's the funny part--Fab is 'little girl makeup'.  I had originally bought the shimmer pot for Maria a few years ago, loved it myself, so I went back to get some for myself!!  ;)

For a great facial toner, (as well as cheapo), try using Witch Hazel.  It is wonderfully healthy for keeping your skin clean and your pores tight.  There is only one drawback, other than the strange smells ICKY!  I have to hold my breath when I apply it.  It is way cheaper than any other toners out there, and works just as well, if not better.  And it is not drying at all.

The loveliest thing I do for myself (that is free) is that I always keep my teeth brushed and flossed.  I cannot stand to have debris between my teeth.  It is amazing how clean my mouth feels when I floss! 

There are little things like that, and spritzing body spray on that make me feel so pretty!  Amazing!  I just bought myself a new body spray this week called Butterfly Flower (Bath & Bodyworks) and it smells reminiscent of White Shoulders.  It is soft and feminine, very lovely.  I'll let you in on one of my secrets, too...

I don't like to smell like a perfume factory--I just want to have a very soft and pleasant aroma.  So, instead of spraying cologne (or body spray) on my upper body, I spritz my ankles.  That way, when I am sitting by someone, they aren't beat over the head by a strong smell.  They catch a slight hint of my fragrance without it being obnoxious.


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Annie Zone: Narrow escape from a maniac

The Annie Zone: Narrow escape from a maniac: "My great grandmother was tough. She had to be. Born in Nerka, Sweden, and raised in a large Lutheran family, her father worked t..."

Narrow escape from a maniac

My great grandmother was tough.  She had to be.  Born in Nerka, Sweden, and raised in a large Lutheran family, her father worked the land for a wealthy man.  He raised fruit, and one day the landowner came by, picked a ripe apple and handed it to Helen, a child at the time.  He facetiously smiled at her and offered her his pinky.  Even as a youngster, she thought, 'Hypocrite!  My daddy raised this, not you!'

At the tender age of 11, her elder brother sent a ticket for her from Chicago.  He and his wife had settled there and were expecting their first child.  He could only afford one child's ticket, so he sent for Helen to travel to the new country and be a help in caring for the new baby.

Helen, or Elin as she was called in her native tongue, journeyed to America, all alone as a very young girl!  Imagine that.  Sailing on a ship across the ocean with no one there to rely on!  She was a reddish blonde little girl with high cheekbones and a feisty personality.

She stayed with John, her brother, and helped out with the new baby.  Eventually, he and his family moved back to Sweden, leaving Helen all alone in the Windy City.  She worked as a clerk, in a confectionary (candy) store, and as a nanny (mother's helper). 

Helen answered a classified ad that offered work as a nanny.  She reported to her job, and was hired by a doctor.  No one knows the details of all that happened.  It's too bad no one thought to ask more questions!

She often told the story of how she was awakened late one night to hear the doctor exclaim that he'd 'shut the damn brat up!' and witnessed him suffocating the child.  After she realized he had murdered the child, Helen fled.  She was terrified.  I don't know if the doctor knew she had seen him or  not.

I surmise that he used chloroform, and H. H. Holmes was known to have done that to some of his victims.  It is documented that he killed at least one child using chloroform. 

H. H. Holmes was 'doctor' Holmes.  He had gone to medical school and was also a pharmacist/druggist.  Holmes also owned a confectionary store.  Is it possible that he hired her to work there?  Is that how she got hooked up with him?  Several of his victims were young women that worked for him, either in the confectionary store or within his 'murder hotel' in some other capacity.

Ironically, a gang of Irish brothers frequented the confectionary store she worked in, and she eventually married one of them--my great grandfather, William Fitzgerald.  Is it possible that they prevented her from falling prey to Holmes?  Perhaps they scared him off?  There are more questions than answers, I'm afraid.

I do know that the Fitzgeralds lived in the Englewood section of Chicago, and that William and Helen were married in Visitation Catholic Church (probably the rectory because Helen was not Catholic).  The church was only blocks away from the murder castle.

I'm not done researching this.  I still hold out the hope that somewhere I will find some concrete evidence that the doctor that murdered the child in Great Grandma's life was the same Englewood doctor that murdered dozens to hundreds of victims.  Jeff Mudgett, great great grandson of Holmes seems to believe they were the same man.  That's a pretty strong indication to me that it is very possible or even probable.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Annie Zone: Whitechapel ripper

The Annie Zone: Whitechapel ripper: "Continuing my thoughts on Jack TR and H. H. Holmes... A friend raised a good point yesterday--these two men, as horrid as they were, seemed..."

Whitechapel ripper

Continuing my thoughts on Jack TR and H. H. Holmes...

A friend raised a good point yesterday--these two men, as horrid as they were, seemed to have entirely different M.O.'s.  I actually dismissed the notion that they could be the same man the first few times I read anything that tried to link them.  I thought, "How far fetched is that?!"

Upon deeper investigation, I must say that I can't rule Holmes out as a suspect in the Whitechapel killings.  There are some intriguing clues.  The thing about the Ripper is, this case is so hyped and shrouded in mythology that it  has to be analyzed with the strictest up- to -date understanding of the case.  All the myths have to be separated from the hard truth.  It isn't an easy task to set upon because the crimes took place so long ago.  In those times, investigators were unaware of contamination of the crime scene, what a serial killer was, etc.  They were rummaging about in the dark compared to what our modern day detectives can do.

I ordered a newly published book this week called 'Bloodstains' by Jeff Mudgett.  H. H. Holmes was an alias, his real name was Herman Webster Mudgett.  Jeff is his great great grandson.  I look forward to reading this, and I believe he addresses some of the evidence that points towards his ancestor as a possible Ripper suspect.  I will blog about the book when I read it...I expect to receive it within the next few days.

To think my great grandma, Helen Erickson Fitzgerald, may have escaped the monster of Chicago (and maybe even Jack TR) makes me realize how different things could have been.  For one, I wouldn't be here if she had not fled.

The first time I had heard of H. H. Holmes was quite a few years ago.  I believe it must have been late 80's or early 90's.  I saw a book in the store about a 'murder castle', so I picked it up and was mystified by this.  I couldn't believe I had never heard of this case before.  I read it with simultaneous interest and disgust.  It was unimagineable.  In fact, after I read it, I did something I had never done before.  I threw it away.  I felt like I had to purge my house of it because it felt like I was contaminated by it.

Little did I know that I was reading about something that would touch me in a personal way years later.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jack The Ripper

This is the 2nd installment of my serial killer  (Not that serial killers deserve any kind of humor or joking around.  I don't want to glorify them in any way, please understand.)

I remember the moment I first learned in detail about Jack The Ripper.  I was 14 and my  innocent eyes were opened that day to the depravity of humanity.  I was shocked by what I read and saw in that book.  I read it all the way through, took it back and renewed it, and re-read it.  I studied it like I studied a text book.

I was intrigued by this mystery.  Why would anyone do this?  Psychologically, what motivated this man?  Why didn't Scotland Yard ever catch him?  I wanted to understand this.  Needless to say, most of my questions were left unanswered, or they created more questions.

Since reading that book, I have read dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the topic of serial killers.  For the most part, the same questions remain.

I have gained some insight into their thinking, due to the research of psychiatrists/psychologists/criminal profilers, etc.   There is still one factor that goes unexplained, though.  What makes the serial killer follow through with his deadly impulses?  A careful study of his/her upbringing, family, environment, education, etc.  may help us understand.  And yet, another individual may have similar circumstances and never harm anyone.  What is the impetus that pushes the killer to act?

I am left with the only answer I can come up with--  evil.  This is a spiritual dimension, and many people might scoff at the idea.  I believe in God and in free will.  I believe that He created angels and that Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God.  I also believe that when God created the first humans, there was no evil exercised in the world.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they 'invited' Satan and the demons to use their powers on earth.  This helps us to understand why we suffer, why the weather is often deadly, why we have disease, why we have death.  Until the end of time, when Christ has His final word over Satan, we will suffer the consequences of evil in creation.  As an aside, each time I commit a sin, I feed into that evil force.  That is one reason I try to resist my own sinful tendencies, I want to make the world better.  Think of how the world would be different if more people desired to overcome sin...

I had written in my previous blog about H. H. Holmes and the possibility that he may have also been the elusive Whitechapel killer.  I've read many other books on Jack (TR) and there are many eligible suspects.  One book I particularly liked was Patricia Cornwell's best seller in which she set out to prove that Walter Sickert was Jack.  I was fairly convinced by her methodical laying out of profuse amounts of circumstantial evidence that she was onto something.

And yet, now this new possibility has impelled me to look into Holmes further.  There are some pretty interesting coincidences and signs that he could have very well been the ripper.

A man from Pennsylvania has written a thorough examination of this possibility and compared Jack and Holmes' handwriting.  There are stunning similarities.  I'd really like to see an expert analysis of this. 

Also, Holmes was missing all during the months that the ripper was active, and when Holmes returned to Chicago, the ripper murders ceased.  The Whitechapel victims were possibly killed by someone skilled at anatomy, and Holmes was a doctor.  At that very time, there was a person from America attempting to sell human skeletons to London medical schools.  Holmes sold his victim's skeletons, claiming they were accident victims or that they died of natural causes.

Just this week, further evidence has been discovered.  In a letter written by Holmes while  he was in prison (awaiting execution), he wrote about having been in London. 

So, needless to say, I am amazed that maybe Holmes and Jack are one and the same.

I personally don't think there is a monster out there that rivals the monster called the serial killer.  I'm currently reading Black Dahlia Avenger which was written by a man who is convinced that his father was the Black Dahlia's murderer.  He also asserts that this man was a serial killer, which I wholeheartedly believe as well.  Crimes like that are not typically one time events.  They smack of the serial killer mentality. 

My parents think I should have gone into some kind of investigative work!  :) John agrees.  Maybe I should think about that...


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spine tingling!! Chilling!!!

So, quite awhile back I began to research my family tree, wanting to find out if my great grandmother had had a brush with H. H. Holmes.  He is the horrific serial killer from Chicago in the late 1800's, who built a murder castle/hotel in Englewood (South Chicago).  He drew in victims, murdered them, disposed of their bodies in outrageous ways, one of which was selling their skeletons to medical schools.  A popular book, Devil In the White City, gives excellent information on this monstrous man.  Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be preparing to star in a movie based on this book.

Well, I'm still researching because Helen (g-grandma) had been witness to a doctor (Holmes was a doctor) who murdered a child i her presence.  She, of course, feared for her own life, and left immediately.  She died long before I was born, and she never revealed any further details to her children about the incident. 

Thru my research, I have convinced myself that this doctor was Holmes.  She lived and met my G--grandfather in Chicago at that time.  She worked as a nanny and in a confectionary store.  (Holmes also owned a confectionary store.) G-grandpa lived in S. Chicago because he worked there in the steel industry.  He also attended Visitation Catholic Church, which was only blocks away from the so called murder castle.  This church is where he and Helen were married.

So, bringing you all up to date.  I learned that Jeff Mudgett, great great grandson of Holmes (who's real name was Herman Mudgett--he used dozens of aliases) just published a book about Holmes.  I wrote on his blog a little blurb about Helen and asked Jeff what he though.  He wrote back saying he had little doubt that her 'doctor' and Holmes were one and the same.  I ordered his book and I expect it to arrive this week...

Interestingly, there are theories that Holmes may have also been Jack the Ripper.  I'm currently reading up on this and there is a good deal of circumantial evidence to raise this possibility.  I'll write more later on that!!!

Chills down my spine, baby!!


Sunday, April 10, 2011


There's just nothing like having to break the news to your teenaged children that a special teacher and his family have been involved in a horrendous car accident, and then informing them that two young people they knew died in that wreck.  There is something raw and cruel about watching their reaction. 

In 1980, I was 16 years old, and school was out for 'senior skip day'.  I would return for my report card the next day and then I had the next three months to have summer fun.  I spent the entire day at the beach on the Shenango, sunning and swimming in the still frigid water.  I was there with a gang of my girl friends.  We felt careless and excited about a day off, sunshine, the beach, and impending summer vacation.

Late in the afternoon, my mom and younger brother arrived to pick me up.  I hopped in the back seat and began to tell them all about my exciting adventures of the day.  They seemed awfully quiet and somber.  12 year old Jim looked at me and said, 'Our cousin was killed today.'  There are truly no words to describe the effect those words had on me.  It was like this obscene violation of my deepest spirit--like a sword plunged into my soul and ripped it to shreds.

  I couldn't begin to process this.

I learned that my cousin, Jim, who was born just a few months after I was, and was also my classmate, had been killed when a tractor trailer (18 wheeler) cut off the car he was riding in, and the truck actually fell on top of the car.  Jim was the youngest child in my aunt Mary's family.  His dad had died just a couple years earlier of bone cancer, and he was Aunt Mary's only son.  He had not even reached his 16th birthday yet.  He was a tall thin blond boy, with an incredibly high I.Q.  Jim showed so much promise for his future, and had just begun to notice girls.  Jim had been on a trip to Geauga Lake with some of our fellow classmates.  None of them sustained any life threatening injuries. 

I have never recovered from this awful event.  Decades have passed, and all it takes is an accident like the one from last night to tear the scab off my wound and I begin to bleed all over again.  I have never even quite been able to face my feelings about this head on.  The next day when I went to pick up my final report card of my sophomore year, I sadly asked for my cousin's, so that I could pass it along to my mom's sister.  Poor Aunt Mary, she had lost her husband and now her young son.  I...don't... know how she ever lived through that.

I guess that's about all I can say right now.