On March 21, 2012, I saw a photo published by the local newspaper of a local political event held the day before.
In this photo were two of Richard and Tracy’s kids: the 3rd child and the oldest, the one who had been choked. The poor girl, the oldest is wearing a sling.
In the photos, I saw no evidence of the other two kids, or of Richard. I thought I saw Tracy in one photo, but the picture was not close enough to be sure, and others showed only the back of the person who might be her.
I knew from ads for this event, run in the newspaper a few days before, that if the kids were there, Tracy would be there, but Richard would not because you had to be a member of that party, and they’re of two different parties.
Tracy and Richard are both very active in local politics, so they and/or their kids show up in the local newspaper’s photos from time to time.
Heck, I even saw a picture of the eldest child, in the middle of 2011, on the front page of the “Life” section of the Sunday paper; she was holding a tuba or some other kind of instrument, to demonstrate a local program that helps poor kids get musical instruments.
Another evening in 2011, I read on the newspaper website about an accident that had just happened on Johnson St., and could swear that was Tracy as a witness standing around in one of the photos. (Unfortunately, the story and its photos were soon removed for some reason, so I didn’t have a chance to confirm it with Jeff.)
Then right after the state primary in 2012, the local paper posted a picture on its Facebook wall (people waiting for election returns) with one person who looked (from the back) like she was probably Tracy; because I “liked” the newspaper, that photo showed up in my news feed.
So as much as I might want to just block Richard and Tracy from my mind and never think of them again, I still see pictures of them in the paper, still see them occasionally at church, was face-to-face with Richard for a moment at Greekfest in 2011, and Jeff sees them (and gives them the cold shoulder) at the grocery store now and then.
And now that our city has changed around polling places, there’s a good chance we’ll run into them while voting one of these days.
So unfortunately, it’s impossible to just forget about them, at least until I hear that they’ve moved to some other city or even some other state.
Considering how often they moved around from city to city and state to state just in the four years they’d been married before they moved here, and that they’ve moved three times just since they moved out of our house 4 years ago, it is indeed possible that they’ll move away at some point after Richard gets off probation.
I can only hope so, unless they find it in their hearts to stop being jerks who have to have their way or no way, act like adults who want to actually resolve the issue instead of like children throwing tantrums and yelling and cussing, and come to us with apologies and repentance.
So it is good to see that, at least, Richard was not being left alone with all four children.
Since he only had two kids with him when he came to my church shortly after he was put on probation, there’s probably some rule about this, but for some reason, it’s not on the state’s court records website.
(Other cases on the website have notes about terms of probation, so I’m not sure why his does not. All I can do is guess, which means I also can’t help the probation officer by reporting Richard if I see him violate the terms.)
But it’s discouraging to see that they apparently still have custody of the eldest. Is that even safe? Can I trust Social Services and the courts to do their jobs keeping her safe?
I’ve already done all I could possibly do for those children by reporting everything I knew and had witnessed, to Social Services.
I’ve already done all I could possibly do to help keep Richard from killing Tracy one of these days if she ever hit him in the face, because I also mentioned their own spousal domestic violence, emotional and physical, in hopes that Social Services would help with that as well.
But unfortunately, I don’t feel like I can confidently just let it go and trust that Social Services and the courts will keep those kids safe, or that the domestic violence will cease.
I read the paper every day, and far too many kids, just in our county, slip through the cracks; far too many kids die, or almost die, at the hands of a parent who was already in the system.
Far too many times, I look up somebody on the court records website who’s been in the newspaper for strangling a girlfriend or abusing kids, and find a long rap sheet of child abuse or domestic violence cases.
Currently there’s a case going on in the state capitol of a teenage girl who had been kept in the basement for years, starved and tortured.
CPS had been called many times, her brother was on probation for molesting her, he lived in the house with her, and probation officers visited their house.
Yet she still had been kept in the basement for years, forced to eat her own feces and garbage, until she finally escaped. The probation officers didn’t even know she was down there!
I wish I could put more faith in the system, but I just can’t. So I continue to worry about Richard and Tracy’s children, and continue to wonder if one day I’ll hear that Richard has beaten Tracy to death or Tracy has poisoned him (as she often “playfully” threatens to do) or some other horrible thing has happened.
I thought for sure that the natural father of the eldest would petition for full or primary custody, because by law he’s supposed to be kept apprised of things like, the stepfather nearly killing his daughter, or reports to CPS. Yet there she was, with Tracy.
Richard nearly killed this girl–how can she still be living with him? This was no spanking too hard, or forgetting to buckle a car seat–he deliberately choked her, nearly killed her! Why is she still living in his house? Who made this decision, and how?
And Social Services knows about Tracy’s temper as well, that she smacked a tiny 3-year-old in the back of the head (that 3rd child who was also in the photo), yet there she is with Tracy.
[Smacking a child that small is especially dangerous for the developing brain, basically giving the brain whiplash.]
I’d love to be able to stop worrying about them, to believe that Social Services and the courts will take good care of those kids. But I can’t.
I keep second-guessing myself about whether or not we should’ve gone through that “conference” Tracy wanted to have. After all, you’ll read on the Net how you should listen to other people’s concerns, etc. etc.
But Jeff tells me to stop doing that second-guessing, especially after we just had to sit through a conference with our son’s principal over attendance records. (Apparently our idea of “too sick to go to school” differs from their idea, even though we were following the guidelines in the school handbook.)
Jeff said that conference with the principal demonstrated what it’s like to be confronted by someone who is sure they are in the right and wants to intimidate you and cower you into submission.
He says that it was a walk in the park compared to what Tracy would have done to me, that at least we got a few concessions from the principal and nurse that the handbook needed to be more clearly written.
We certainly wouldn’t have gotten that from Tracy, and as proof, there was her response when Jeff tried to tell her that the rules she wanted me to follow were vague and constantly changing, that there was a lot of doublespeak from Richard (and, though he didn’t mention it, double standards from Tracy and Richard both): “Oh, baloney….A 5-year-old could understand.”
Tracy wouldn’t even meet us halfway, never would meet us halfway, and always insisted on her way or no way, that my opinions and feelings mattered not a bit and made no difference whatsoever.
That’s called steamrolling, and I was sick and tired of her steamrolling me all the time.
She doesn’t know the meaning of compromise; in fact, she belongs to a political party which treats “compromise” as a vice.
When I said I wanted a six-month break, an amicable one, so we could come at things later after we’d cooled down, her response was, “Have a nice life.”
Run, RUN far away from people like this who will not compromise, will not meet you halfway, who insist on their way or no way!
It’s been nearly 6 months since Richard’s probation began, which means that he can now ask to have his probation terminated early, if his probation officer agrees.
If he’s let off, or if he’s not, I hope the court reporter notes why; I’ve seen other cases on the court records website with far more information in the notes than this one has. I’d love to be reassured
- that the probation officer has that girl’s best interests at heart and isn’t being charmed by Richard, and
- that Richard is putting an honest effort into changing and eradicating his violent tendencies.
Then, at least, I could relax a little.
Oh, if only I could take those girls to me and press them to my heart and keep them safe. If only I could stop all the abuse in the world. A friend tells me I should be a foster parent and/or help with domestic violence, that I have the passion about it to do a lot of good.