Friday, September 17, 2010

"Dead Wives Club"

By Susan Murphy-Milano

Earlier in the week the case of missing Utah mother Susan Powell, who has not been seen since December 7, 2009, made national headlines. The family was contacted by authorizes when remains were discovered in a Wyoming field that might be those of the missing Utah mother, the family as they have been since the day she vanished braced themselves hopes of finally being able to bring her home. But, it was not Susan Powell.In the world of intimate partner violence, the person responsible or those labeled as “person’s of interest” or “prime suspects” hope the person with whom they were in a relationship or married too, are never found. This speaks volumes as to the mindset of these killers. They look at the women, the mothers of their children as their property, similar to the assets acquired during the marriage.

The abuser is often enraged by the loss of power and control, not interested in what I term "sharing the dolls and dishes" accumulated during the marriage. So they formulate a plan and change the marriage certificate into a pending death certificate to be filled out and completed like a deadly bill of sale for discarded property. Before my mother was made a member of the "dead wives club" the rights to her own life, no different than those listed, were always owned and operated by my father.

After these pieces of cowardly human garbage wives and the mothers of their children is reported missing, the vanishing victims lives are weaved into brief by-lines in a community paper then the case stays alive because it is continued over to interactive forums and Internet sites like Websleuths, Scared Monkeys or Help Find The Missing. Human lives, that once move out from the 20 second headline blurb are kept warm with new developments posted until an arrest is made or it has been solved.

The wives and mothers, whose bodies have yet to be recovered, all vanished -- not under mysterious circumstances. The women simply wanted out of the abusive and often violent marriage. It's rare that most of these so-called missing persons cases includes any records of the abuse during the marriage. And in my opinion, once a report is made, each time enough information is gathered by authorities the crime reporting category under how it is checked off on the form box needs to be moved from "a missing persons" case to "intimate partner homicide investigation" case. For a victim of abuse, calling the police during a violent incident can and does set off the abuser and escalate the violence. If the victim has children, her motherly protection mode kicks in, and she backs down for the safety of the kids.

A victim of intimate partner violence makes an initial request, as they attempt to calmy reason with their potentially violent, controlling husbands to amicably end the marriage and move on is what happens to women such as:

Susan Powell -vanished December 7, 2009;
Stacy Peterson- Vanished October 28, 2007,

Kellisue Ackernecht- vanished September 30, 2008;

Sandra Travis-vanished July 31, 2005;

Tara Grinstead-Vanished October 22, 2005;
Rosa Lisowski-vanished September 5, 2008;
Bethanie Dougherty-vanished May 4, 2007;
Venus Stewart- vanished April 26, 2010;
Liza Murphy- vanished August 19, 2007;
Rachel Anderson- vanished April 16, 2010;
Lisa Stebic- vanished April 20, 2007 ;
Renee Pernice, vanished January 1, 2009;

Or those found dead, like Kathleen Savio in a dry bathtub; Monica Beresford-Redmond, beaten to death and left in a drainage sewer in Mexico; and Linda Yancey, whose police officer husband claimed she was a victim of a home invasion. They are only a handful of women who were forced into membership in the ever growing “Dead Wives Club.”


  1. Very common, yet no one seems to want to hear it until it happens to them or someone they know...Very sad. We need "Intimate partner violence" education to become mandatory in U.S. Schools, to help young women understand the dynamics and signs of abusive men before become sexually involved. Also, Boys need to be equally taught what to look for in dangerous women as well. We need to stop reproducing with monsters in our society..

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  3. Excellent article Susan. Thank You for this. Yes it is frightening and seems to be a growing *trend* and one club I do not wish to be in. I have had more than my share of brutal relationships and violent marriages.

  4. Thanks Susan. I agree we need that category designation change to get the momentum going in the right direction. I agree with the first commentor as well. We need to educate the kids before they are dating.

  5. Great article, very well said! I agree with the first comment too!

  6. So do I. However, even more important, we need to figure out what CAUSES this behaviour in men, and try to educate our sons.

    I think it's probably very easy to produce controlling sons. If Dad is controlling, the boys grow up thinking that's how it should be. If Mom is controlling, the boy grows up with no respect for either parent, and vows that no woman will ever control him as his mother controlled his father. the only solution seems to be to maintain shared control and shared parenting, not to mention mutual respect between parents.

    Every few months, on my blog (which is a personal one, with some writing about this sort of crime), I'll post some of the red flags I've seen. I get found by searches such as, "My boyfriend hit me. How can I get him to stop?"

    Education in How to Spot Red Flags and Trusting Your Instincts would certainly help, but it doesn't eliminate the problem. Something very basic we are doing is causing some boys (a lot of boys) to grow into men with this sense of entitlement. It could be as simple as failing to hammer home my mother's credo: "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" I heard that question every single time she saw, heard, or overheard me doing something hurtful to anyone or any pet. Teasing the cat, talking about my friends behind their backs, hitting anyone...she developed a sense of empathy in me, and the ability to walk a mile in another's shoes. I can usually see both sides of an argument, due to her. Are we not doing this any more?


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