People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Issy and Kelli Stapleton: Murder, Suicide, and Family

I have been deeply disturbed for weeks. I keep trying to write this blog post and backing away from it, over and over. I have decided not to publish it, and alternately been compelled to publish it. Ultimately, this is my truth. This is what my family survived, and if it was the reality for my family, then it’s the reality for other families because we aren’t unique. But back up; this doesn’t begin with me, but with another family.

The facts of the story: On September 3, 2013, Kelli Stapleton published a blog post in which she described an IEP meeting that ended with the district school refusing to provide services for Issy, Kelli’s 14-year-old autistic daughter. Issy had just been discharged from an inpatient treatment program in Kalamazoo, MI (three hours from the Stapleton home) where she was being treated for, among other things, aggressive behavior related to her autism. While at her inpatient program, Issy had developed a good relationship with a teacher in the junior high she attended while she was in treatment. Kelli and her husband, Matt, decided that Kelli and Issy would move to Kalamazoo so Issy could attend school there and Matt and the couple’s other two children would remain at home.

Later that same day, police found Kelli and Issy in the family’s van in a rural area near their home, both unconscious, during an apparent attempt by Kelli to end both their lives. Issy spent about a week in the hospital and is now recovering at home. Kelli is being held without bond on a felony attempted murder charge.

Kelli’s act set off a virtual bomb in the special needs/disability blogosphere, and especially in the autism world. I will not guess at Kelli’s motives for trying to kill herself and her daughter (we will only know her motives if and when she tells us), but I do know how I got to the edge of the cliff that Kelli went over.

I have been consumed by what Kelli did since I heard the news. Part of that is because I know Kelli and part is because I have been close to doing what she did. Since the news broke, the cry that has gone up from autistics and people with other disabilities is, we have been dehumanized. We are not considered valuable or worthy of consideration, kindness, freedom, or even our very lives.

That is true. Our culture as a whole, and we as individuals, have not honored every person as we should. We have hurt, isolated, ostracized, assaulted, sterilized, tortured, and killed people we don’t understand. We have deemed those who seem different less worthy, and often we have done the hurting in the name of helping, calling it therapy, treatment, or religion. If you or someone you love have been on the whip-crack end of that terrible phenomenon, I am sorry. You deserve better. You deserve all good things, all the support and kindness and love that this world and the family of humanity has to offer. The people who hurt you were wrong. If they had good intentions but hurt you anyway, they were wrong. If they loved you but hurt you anyway, they were wrong.

All that said (and all that true), there is a complexity that we’re losing by insisting that a discussion of what may have caused Kelli to do what she did (or that any discussion of why so many caregivers kill or attempt to kill the disabled people in their care) is necessarily devaluing Issy and other victims. Condemning Kelli will not stop the next desperate parent from taking a similar action, and in fact may prevent people from reaching out when they are in danger.

Kelli and Issy were (and are) victims of the same system, and that system made them victims of each other. When we, the ground-level stakeholders (people with disabilities, caregivers, and people who would like the world to be more just), focus on the ways Kelli and Issy victimized each other, we let all the other people off the hook. When we vilify Kelli, or autism, or the various therapies (on which I am no expert, since my disabled child has serious mental illness, not autism), we don’t scrutinize all the people who hold the power and the pursestrings.

Think in terms of power and investment. Kelli and Issy and the rest of the family were relatively powerless. Therapies, education, and help for Issy would only come via the bureaucracies that hold the purse strings, as they do for most of us who don’t have a few million dollars at our disposal. So let’s say the Stapleton family needed a level of help we’ll call X. That X represents the amount of help that enables the family to have a life that is life. Issy goes to school all day and there is adequate care there for her to be safe, healthy, and to learn as much as she can. There is enough help in the evenings and on weekends so that the other Stapleton children can have the attention of their parents, help with homework, family meals together, and regular outings. The Stapleton parents have the space they need to nurture their relationship and their individual interests. Issy has all the appropriate therapies that her team parents, teachers, and other care providers agree she needs, and her parents and siblings have therapists, too. There is so much help that the parents are not overwhelmed and the children are not afraid.

The Stapleton parents are completely invested in the family getting help level X. Their desire is for a life that resembles normal family life as much as possible. I’m making that assumption, of course, but it’s based on what I want for my own family so it’s not a big stretch.

What are the chances that they will get help level X? In my experience, nearly zero. I know dozens of families in which there are children with extraordinary needs, and the amount of help they get is always X minus at least half.

In late 2009, I had begun to consider that suicide was reasonable, as was ending the life of my mentally ill son, Carter, then 7 years old. There was no hate in me for Carter; in fact, it seemed to me that ending our lives was the only loving thing I could do. When I read of people condemning Kelli’s actions, saying that autism or disability is no excuse for murder, I am perplexed because I wasn’t looking for an excuse to kill my son; I was looking for an excuse not to. I believed that ending our lives was the only loving response to my son’s illness and suffering that was available to me.

(Pause. Breathe. We are all well now, and very safe.)

I’m not a stupid person, nor am I in general delusional, but when I lived with unrelenting and profound stress, fear, grief, and anger, coupled with severe sleep deficit, I changed. I watched the light go out in my other children’s eyes, watched my husband descend into periodic despair, and that changed me. Some people told me I was overreacting and others told me I was a saint, an angel, and a hero, and that changed me too.

Everything about Brian’s and my lives was shredded in the early years of Carter’s life. All the things we did that gave our lives meaning and joy were gone: church, prayer, sex, family relationships, play, conversation, reading, walking, writing. All the things we did that made our lives work were destroyed, or minimized to the point of dysfunction: maintaining our home, maintaining our yard, keeping up with the laundry, preparing meals, shopping. Those things that kept us feeling good about ourselves disappeared: hobbies, friendships, art, routine medical and dental care, taking care of our personal appearance, even hygiene, and of course sleep. We slept so little for so long, I’m not sure how we functioned at all.

I’m not talking about things that we experienced occasionally, or sometimes, or during the day, or for a few weeks here and a few weeks there. I’m talking about every minute, day and night, for months and years. We know that war and poverty change the structure and function of the brain; it’s not a stretch to assume that living with unrelenting and profound stress at home can do the same. And just as some infants come out of their painful early years in Russian or Bosnian orphanages just fine, and some come out deeply damaged, parents come to special needs parenting with our own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us will bounce, and some of us will eventually shatter.

In the midst of the chaos of our home life,  we were condemned and criticized everywhere. I was patted on the head (once literally) and called a worried mom (many times, in many ways) when I told doctor after doctor after doctor that my child did not sleep, could not laugh, smashed his own face into the floor, and was not happy. I spent hours on the phone with the insurance company and got very little in return for my efforts because we just don’t cover developmental delay. I heard the questions again and again, searching for how Carter’s problems were my fault: did you take medicine, what do you feed him, were your other kids this way? I saw the nasty looks and heard the foul words from people at the grocery, the post office, and restaurants. We called for help and were added to waiting lists for tests, waiting lists for appointments, waiting lists for services.

I begged for help and heard, in a million ways and on a thousand days, no, we can’t help you. There’s nothing to be done. Go home. Deal with it.

I never devalued my son’s life. Our culture, society, and systems did that. When I waited on the playground for the kindergarten bell to ring and none of the other parents would talk to me because my son was “that boy,” the one who attacked other kids, couldn’t sit still, and occupied all of the class aide’s time and attention, I felt that shame, but it wasn’t mine. That shame belonged elsewhere—with  the principal, lawmakers, and supervisors who refused to provide appropriate placement. They devalued my son and my family. Doctors who saw me, frantic and pleading, for a standard 5-minute visit, and handed me a book about sleep instead of sitting and hearing me and working with me to find a solution—they devalued my son, my family, and me, but I felt the shame.

In the midst of all of that, with my life swirling in pieces around me, the dominant emotion was sorrow. My little boy was in agony. He was afraid, sick, psychotic, depressed, aggressive, suicidal, manic, and miserable. Even the most basic pleasures of life, a good night’s sleep or an easy poop, were denied him. I would have happily chewed off my arms if that would have eased any portion of his pain. I have held him through thousands of hours of sleepless anguish, pulled him back from the brink of his own attempts to hurt himself or end his own life, and watched a million hurts chip away at his heart. I would have done anything to fix it. I did everything I knew to do, and still, he suffered.

We lived like that for eight years. It changed me. It very nearly broke me. I didn’t get to the place where suicide and murder seemed like appropriate actions because I was selfish. I didn’t get there because of hate or even anger. The world was hopelessly dark, help far too scarce, and the shame too large. Most of all, the agony seemed endless, limitless. I have read over and over in the weeks since Kelli Stapleton tried to kill herself and her daughter, “A mother should protect her child!” Sometimes, I couldn’t see any way to protect Carter except to take him home to Jesus.

We have enough help now. Carter isn’t nearly as sick as he was, and my husband and I have more ability as caregivers than we used to. We survived long enough to get to the tops of some waiting lists, and we finally gained access to an excellent pediatric psychiatrist, a therapist, and a behavioral management specialist. We found a parent support group and a wonderful school that my parents have paid for. We began the process of turning our lives around, and while it hasn’t gotten easy, it has gotten manageable. There is joy again. My gratitude for Carter’s relative health and my family’s improvement runs deep like a river, but many families don’t get to experience the relief we have enjoyed in the past few years.

Violence perpetrated upon people with disabilities is a dark and ugly part of the human story, but I refuse to believe that we’re not capable of thinking around the corner and separating the cruel perpetrators from the desperate ones. Issy, Kelli, and the whole Stapleton family were left twisting in the wind. They had services, but they weren’t enough. When someone in a family is repeatedly aggressive, that means that family needs more help. When people in a family are repeatedly seen in the hospital for injuries sustained at the hands of a family member (Kelli sustained brain injuries when she was attacked by Issy), that family needs more help. When people are being bitten, scratched, and punched; when people are not able to stop biting, scratching and punching; when some children are hiding in closets dialing 911 (as one Stapleton child is said to have done); that family needs more help.

Silence and condemnation are not the solutions to those problems. The only solution to the problem of not enough help is more help.

We need a serious cultural shift in the way we think about family and caregiving in general, and caring for people with disabilities specifically. Even in the worst times, I was not a cruel or bad mom who hated my child; I was a desperate and isolated mom of a very sick child who I loved. We have to speak the truth, listen to each other, and insist that we all deserve better.

No Points for Style

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212 comments to Issy and Kelli Stapleton: Murder, Suicide, and Family

  • Britmom

    Brilliantly written. As an adult who suffered mental illness and the impact it had on the rest of my family I can somewhat relate – so many of these points are relevant in that context as well. And when I almost committed suicide it was for the same reason – it seemed like the most loving thing to do for my family – to remove me from the equation. I wish more people were capable of empathy instead of judgment. Even the lack of help and release would be easier if that were the case. My heart goes out to everyone suffering in this way. We cannot know how we would deal unless we walk that person’s path, but with their brain not ours. No one can do that and so no one can judge.

  • Pablo

    I have a no sympathy for this woman. She made a blog to whine about her life as a parent to a child with autism in which she exploited her daughter in every possible way and made her daughter’s condition all about herself. She’s an ego maniac who tried to kill her child after she failed to dump her responsibilities off on someone else.

    Anyone who empathizes with this woman needs to question themselves and ask what sets this woman apart from any other empty vessel that selfishly kills or tries to kill their child. Does Issy’s autism give her less rights to live than any other child?

    It’s too bad this woman is not facing the death penalty.

    • It’s clear you’ve misunderstood everything I wrote, if you read it at all. I invite you to explore your thinking and see if you can’t find a way to allow a little more complexity. Or course Issy has a right to life, and all the same rights of every other person, as I indicated at the beginning.

      • bs

        adrienne, i think pablo understood completely and was offended that your article is seeming to discount what she did. I agree with pablo, and I quote “She’s an ego maniac who tried to kill her child after she failed to dump her responsibilities off on someone else.”

  • MammaLynn

    Pablo-you’ve made several judgments that I think are wrong. You called Kelli an egomaniac & an empty vessel-I don’t think either is the case. The great lengths she went to, as a mom, to help her daughter, that’s not what an egomaniac does. I don’t question my empathy here-rather, I question your lack of it.

  • Ali

    I have nothing but empathy for Kelli Stapleton. It is hard to be a great parent to a “normal” child. It is life altering to paren a child with differences.
    It breaks my heart that more people don’t question why a mother felt so desperate that she thought death was her only option. It kills me that I’m not hearing cries for reform.

  • Joan

    Adrienne…I applaud your blog. I have worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 25 years and your are absolutely correct – we consistently tell parents about waiting lists, entitlement versus eligibility, etc. When I read the People article about Kelli and her daughter, Issy, it broke my heart. I would imagine that your struggle with your son has been just as challenging. I do have to point out, however, that Kelli’s brain injury seems to be down played. How ironic? I do not know the details of her injury but a brain injury , whether severe or mild, can have long term, serious consequences. I have always called it the silent disability. The deficits of a brain injury are “nontangibles/non-measurable” traits – impulsivity, personality changes, lack of judgement, suspectible to depression, etc. Is it possible that Kelli no longer had the coping skills that she previously had? If you are still in touch with Kelli, please advise her attorneys (as I read she is having a competency hearing) to have a neuropsychological evaluation (not a psychological evalulation). Recent media coverage of CTE (chronic traumatic encephlopathy) in football players is further evidence that brain injuries change ones personality (Junior Seau)and has resulted in suicides. It is my hope that BOTH Kelli and Issy get the help that they need. Please keep me updated.

  • Joan

    Sorry misspelled susceptible!

  • Liz M.

    Thank you for your very brave and extraordinarily articulate description of all the factors that can lead someone to the point where there seems no other way. I have been so saddened to read many of the posts on other sites that confuse understanding the despair that Kelli must have been in to get to the point that she did, with condoning / sympathising with her actions. I am a parent of a young child with autism and it often feels like I am living in a never-ending nightmare – years and years of sleep deprivation, ongoing stress, grief and sadness. You have explained so well what living with that can mean. Research has shown that mothers of children with high-needs autism have higher levels of stress / anxiety then combat soldiers. Most combat soldiers (even though many are severely impacted by the trauma associated with their experiences) do get to come home from the combat zone. Parents of children with high-needs disabilities, particularly those who are violent, are living in a “combat zone” day in and day out with no end in sight.

  • bs

    This article and many of the replies are obviously written with the hope that their dear friend will not be punished for the crime she allegedly committed. My hope is the prosecutor or any potential jurors who read this blog realize this and do not let any of this rubbish about compassion for the defendant get in the way of doing their job. This woman admitted to planning and carrying out her plan to kill her daughter. It’s called murder. She intended to MURDER her own daughter. The only question is how long was she planning to murder her daughter? Was it just a few days? A few weeks? Maybe a few months? More likely, I think she planned this out years before she took the steps of overmedicating her daughter, starting the fires, and enclosing the space her daughter was trapped in. I do not believe she attempted suicide. Her call to her husband and the police being able to find her ‘in time’ supports that theory. Let’s look at the facts –> She started a blog in February and began detailing how supposedly overwhelmed she was. Her daughter was in a residential care facility for eight months and she tried to kill her just 36 hours after her release and return to the family home. The woman was pleading for and received tens of thousands of dollars in donations even though the daughter’s care was paid for with medicaid and insurance. Where did all of that money go? The daughter had caretakers, schools, and doctors, hospitals, etc. bending over backwards to help. Yet, the woman continues to feign poverty and being overwhelmed. She traveled yet claims she was depressed. She went to lunch with her buds yet claimed she spent so much energy taking care of her daughter. She browbeat the teacher then feigned fear about where oh where could her daughter go to school. She says the next school is 2 1/2 hours away yet it’s a thirty minute drive. Her daughter attended regular school through the fifth or sixth grade yet suddenly b/c violent? Bull. How was the daughter being treated by her mother when nobody else was looking? That is the question you should be considering instead of trying to use her daughter’s autism as her excuse for trying to kill her. Overwhelmed? Bull. She didn’t work outside the home and she spent hours on end playing on the computer trying to make herself look like some kind of martyr. She is no hero. She is a woman who appears to have consistently placed her own needs b/f the needs of her family and when she couldn’t get her way and all of the attention she appears to crave then she staged her ultimate hissy fit. She was told many years ago to face her problems and that it wasn’t her daughter who needed the help. Her response? Seems it was the same as every other bit of advice she received… She ignored it and continued using her daughter to fuel her own narcissistic need to be the center of attention. My theory is that she was abusive to her daughter and that she wanted her to die. That’s called attempted murder and thankfully she has been arrested for allegedly committing such a heinous crime and will face a jury of her peers for judgment. Before you start slamming my post and claiming I should be compassionate or have empathy for this woman, please know that I am full of compassion and empathy for the victims in this case and the victims do not include the woman who plotted to murder her own daughter. If any of you well meaning people choose to send money, I suggest you consider sending money for the family so they can get the counseling they will need to overcome what this woman has done. And, I suggest you take your blinders off and realize the strong possibility that this woman has you all snowed. Consider how your posts affect those with autism or any disability. Consider how your attitudes make them feel. It is as if you are attempting to justify murdering this little girl b/c she had special needs and that, my friends, is despicable.

    • Did you read this post? Or even skim it?

      • Wow, I guess the thousands of hours I have spent educating myself about special education law, medical research (allopathic as well as alternative), brain research, nutritional strategies that can impact physical and mental health — all that time I was “playing on the computer.” Who knew. My bad that I was feeling heartbroken at times instead of having fun. And our situation is nowhere near as desperate as the Stapleton family’s.
        I do not know Kelli and had never heard of this terribly tragic series of events until reading Adrienne’s blog post, but I can’t imagine anyone being able to see into Adrienne’s heart and soul the way that “bs” claims to. This actually helps me understand how so many people can lay all blame at the parents’ feet, how people can be ignorant and yet vociferously anti-special education, anti education at all for medically fragile children who require extraordinary services to access education, anti-parental-rights, anti-everything that does not fit their view of how people should feel and behave. But I don’t blame them. How much easier it would be if we could just blame someone, right “bs”?
        What we need is a sea change in the way education is funded, and intensive consciousness raising about all the issues we are talking about. It is unconscionable that medical insurance companies are making unprecedented profits while many children are under-served, and that towns and middle class families are paying the lion’s share of costs while the 1%-ers around the globe are able to avoid taxes even while their profits depend on the infrastructure that our taxes pay for. But I don’t mean to highjack your thread, Adrienne. It’s just that the problems are so much bigger than “bs” is aware of. I applaud you for even attempting to address them, and am heartened by your compassionate response to even the most offensive comments. Your behavior is an upward call to me, and I thank you for that.

  • bs

    of course I read the article. Presenting a woman who plotted to kill her daughter as a victim is wrong. She had help. She had more help than most people ever receive who are caring for a special needs or disabled person. It seems what she lacked was self awareness or an inner strength which would have helped her hear the professionals many years ago who told her to get professional help for herself! No, she chose to ignore them. To paint her out as some kind of victim is wrong. And, it is hurtful to others who are caring for people with special needs and to the people themselves who have autism. In my opinion, this woman is a con artist who has duped many people into sending her money and used her daughter as the excuse. It appears when her daughter was improving (in her mother’s absence, no less) that her excuse would no longer work for her.

    • The Wikipedia article on fundamental attribution error is pretty good. I’m on mobile or I’d link. Neither you nor I knows why she did what she did. You are making claims and statements you can’t possibly support.

      • bs

        Adrienne, have you seen the youtube video yet? What kind of mother posts a youtube video of her autistic daughter being instructed to place the kitten in the oven. I’m surprised there weren’t arrests made from an animal rights perspective let alone charges of neglect for all three children. What kind of mother says she’s ‘feeling murdery’ because of spending too much time with her family? I’m basing my opinion on her own words, on her blog, and in her radio interview. She seems totally immersed in her childish and immature need for attention. I didn’t hear a woman who cared about her daughter. What I read and heard were words written and spoken by a woman who sounds like she’s in high school and getting tired of babysitting.

  • bs

    jerri, I’m not anti education for special needs or anti medical help for special needs. Just because you may not agree with my opinion does not make you aware of my position in both areas. In this case, the schools and hospitals were helping. The eight month hospital stay was paid for with tax dollars. Her education was paid for with tax dollars. I fully support necessary funding. What I don’t support is the whine fest that has erupted calling this woman a ‘victim’. She is not a victim. I’ve heard she traveled to Africa just fine on a solo vacation. Broke? Overwhelmed? doesn’t sound like it. And, as for any parenting award, please take a moment to look at search the video title “kelli’s kittens” where you’ll see all three children being instructed to place kittens in the microwave oven, the clothes dryer, and then Issy is told to put the kitten in the regular oven. Now, I ask you, when you have a special needs daughter do you really think it’s good parenting to teach her to place a kitten in the oven? No, of course not. I think this woman has fooled a lot of people into believing she needed help and last total in donations for the care which was paid for with tax dollars remember, in full, was over forty thousand dollars. Where did that money go? What was it used for? Her solo vacations?

    • To clarify, I never claimed to know your position. You wrongly inferred that. What I said is that “This actually helps me understand how so many people can lay all blame at the parents’ feet, how people can be ignorant and yet vociferously anti-special education, anti education at all for medically fragile children who require extraordinary services to access education, anti-parental-rights, anti-everything that does not fit their view of how people should feel and behave.”
      I was not speaking about you in particular, but I was referring to the way you make a simplistic judgment about a very complex situation and state your conclusions with authority and without even a hint of consideration that there might be more to it than meets your eye. I think a lot of people do that, and that is what I was talking about in reference to what is going on in my own town around special education. I was not talking about you and your opinions, but using that and this whole discussion as a jumping off point to reflect on what’s going on here.
      Here is the link to the Wikipedia article Adrienne mentioned:

  • bs

    Further, I do not object to the cry for help for families who are struggling to provide proper care for their children with special needs. What I object to is the way someone like this woman who allegedly attempted to murder her daughter being used as the poster parent. From what I’ve read, watched, and listened too so far pertaining to this case, I have yet to see any quality parenting going on by this woman. Yes, the discussion needs to happen but you won’t get many people to listen if you keep trying to glorify this woman.

  • Luna

    BS you have chose a handle that fits you perfectly because that is what you spew. You are cold and judgmental but you have no idea about the nuances of this situation. You base your opinions on ‘what you’ve read’. You don’t know ANYTHING. Maybe you spend too much time on your computer.

  • bs

    then Luna fits you well also I guess. No, I’m not cold. What I am is standing up for children with autism who are being mistreated by a parent who appears to only care about herself. Have you watched the video on youtube yet to see what a great parent this autistic child had? For all of you who are trying to discount or minimize the actions of this ‘mother’ please stop. She attempted to murder her daughter. When you try to say that you could even begin to stand up for her or that you could even begin to understand why she did what she did is just downright frightening. There are literally millions of children in the U.S. with autism, no that they’ve expanded the spectrum. This woman seems very clearly to be a woman who probably had munchausen by proxy and she used her daughter’s autism to meet her own narcissistic craving for attention and to be the center. Read about munchausen, it seems to fit her right on. I’m not saying not to stand up for funding for special needs kids, I’m saying don’t try making this woman into some kind of hero or martyr. Find a family who truly is heroic in their efforts to provide care for the child with autism, not some attention seeking fundraiser. Can anyone answer the question as to where the forty plus thousand dollars went they received in donations? The costs were covered with insurance and medicaid. So, where did the tens of thousands of dollars go? Interesting that so far only 3,000 has been raised with over a month long of their fundraising efforts. Looks like most people do realize they just may have made a mistake to have ever believed her in the first place. Also, ask yourself this question, do you think it’s rather odd that the daughter did fine in school all the way through the fifth or sixth grade then suddenly began with ‘violent’ outbursts? Do you find it interesting that the daughter was improving in the mother’s absence? Do you find it interesting that the teacher said to the mother, after the mother yelled at her inappropriately, remember, this teacher was there to help her daughter, “you are not my boss”. These are all wonderful examples to support the theory that this woman was a narcissist who craved being the center of attention and who quite likely created the ‘violent’ episodes in order to get even more attention and to have control over the situation. if it’s true that over forty thousand rolled in then it sure appears she was using her daughter’s autism to get money. Again, I fully support funding, awareness, and compassion for parents who are struggling to meet the needs of their children. I do not think this woman warrants such empathy or compassion.

  • It seems there are at least two separate conversations going on here. Some are concerned that any perpetrator of the abuse of a disabled child not be “glorified” and that people not be naively taken in. Others are more interested in reflecting on how a mother can be driven to do what seems unthinkable, yet what many mothers have thought about and not many talk about, and are concerned that the mother not be vilified. Neither of these is wrong, and they are not mutually exclusive concerns. I hope we can explore the topics we wish to discuss without attacking one another.

    • Jerri, I agree (And aye de mi, if you saw the comments I’ve deleted!). I do not see these conversations as opposing each other, but that’s the set up. I view it as a false dichotomy but clearly some people feel very strongly that I am wrong and any attempt to discuss how caregivers get to a place where they do the unspeakable (and it is really not uncommon) is akin to wishing all people with disabilities dead. Like if I don’t hate Kelli, then I must hate Issy when in fact I hate neither. It breaks my heart because it prevents us from having necessary conversations about how we may better protect people with disabilities and support caregivers.

      • bs

        you say that it is “really not uncommon” for the caregivers to get to a place where “they do the unspeakable”. This statement is false. It is extremely uncommon for a caregiver to do ‘the unspeakable’ as you call it.
        Also, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have compassion and empathy for caregivers, what I’m saying is that the woman in this story by her actions is not the person we should be concerned about. There are far too many discrepancies in her story and her actions for people to continue buying into her martyr routine. Do I think she is suffering from some kind of mental illness? you bet I do but I don’t think her mental problems had anything to do with her daughter’s autism. I think she was probably very strange long before any issues arose with her daughter’s care or acting out. In fact, I think she staged it and taught her daughter how to act out. We don’t know what went on behind closed doors when she was alone with her daughter but in my opinion it was her daughter who was suffering, not her. In my opinion, the daughter didn’t suddenly begin to improve her behaviors, I think the daughter was able to heal in her mother’s absence. Watch the video, listen to the radio interview, read her own words with an open mind toward the possibility she was abusive to her daughter and you may be able to see where people get upset at any hint of empathy or compassion for this woman.

  • Liz M.

    bs – as I understand it, Adrienne is saying that it is “not uncommon” for caregivers to get to the point of total despair and have thoughts of suicide (and taking their child with them as they know the high rates of abuse in foster homes and institutional care). Adrienne is NOT saying that it is not uncommon for caregivers to actually ACT on these thoughts.

    Do you personally know Kelli? Are you a psychologist or detective? You seem incredibly sure that you know Kelli’s motivations. You make some extraordinary claims eg she probably taught her daughter to act out and she did it all to get attention.

    If you are in fact correct with all of your assumptions it doesn’t take away from the point that Adrienne has tried so hard to make about the toll of caring for a child with severe behaviours or high care needs.

    I don’t think anyone who has posted on this blog thinks or is trying to portray Kelli as a martyr. We are just saying that it is absolutely tragic that this situation could arise.

    In Australia a young girl with autism was locked in a room until she died of starvation. No one ever thought for a minute that this girls parents were anything short of truly evil. I just don’t see that you can put Kelli in the same category. She fought for years to get the assistance for her child that her child needed.

    • bs

      Liz, I do think you can put her in the same category. She says she tried years to get her daughter help. The facts show that her daughter did receive help with insurance and Medicaid which is the State government paying for her care. She had caregivers, she had a husband who supported the family with his job as principal, she didn’t have to work, she traveled extensively. I think where our opinions differ is that you seem to feel sorry for her, I don’t. She spent her time trying to get financial donations and for people to feel sorry for her b/c she had and autistic child. You seem to think she spent her time caring for her child or trying to get help for her child. And no, it is not common for parents to consider killing their children Liz. It is not common at all. And here is the most important point to consider –> her daughter was able to succeed in the regular school setting through the fifth or sixth grade. Sorry, that is not severely autistic. However, if my theory is correct and the mother was abusive to the daughter, then it makes perfect sense the daughter was acting out the only way she knew. Don’t you see how many years the daughter functioned at a very high level? Don’t you see that the daughter improved in her mother’s absence? To hold this woman out there as being someone who suffered seems ludicrous. I think the people suffering were her husband and all three of the kids. The professionals tried to help her see that it was her who needed the help, and I don’t mean more donations or people to clean her house for her. They tried to explain to her that she was the one with the problem. Instead, people who feel ‘compassion’ or ’empathy’ for her are just promoting her seeming continuance of ignoring her own issues and trying to blame her actions on her daughter’s autism. I’m sure there are other stories which could be used to promote the discussion about services which are needed for families dealing with autism. I just don’t think this woman is being real with her ‘supporters’ and I think the supporters aren’t doing their homework to consider the big picture. Instead, they feel sorry for a woman who routinely refused the help which was available it appears so she could keep playing the martyr and keep trying to get the attention she seemed to crave. Have you read about Munchausen by Proxy? Have you read about Narcissistic personality? Have you asked yourself how a woman with a bachelor’s degree in biology can be calling herself a ‘biochemist’? Of course, once she was arrested for attempting to murder her daughter then suddenly the word biochemist was deleted from her blog. Don’t you see it Liz? She pulled in tens of thousands of dollars and had all sorts of volunteers. She traveled, she did lunch with her girlfriends, she had eight months of not having her daughter even at home and 36 hours after her daughter returns she tries to kill her? This isn’t about a mom pushed to her limits. It seems more to be about an abuser who wasn’t able to abuse her daughter anymore b/c her daughter had success with others and the new teacher knew her stuff. People with Munchausen by Proxy change schools, doctors, and move when their secret is about to be revealed. In this case, she was talking about moving four hours away and leaving her other two children behind. If my theory is right and she is an abuser then that’s the only way she could have kept abusing her daughter was to move away where it would be just the two of them. And I think her husband was probably catching a clue as to who the problem behaviors were coming from and said no to her idea to move away with their daughter. I think she got freaked out when she realized she would no longer be able to hurt her and I think there were people who knew all along that she was a self centered very selfish person who was using her daughter’s autism to get the attention and the money she seemed to crave.

  • Jennifer

    Wow, beautifully put. It is a shame that some people lack the ability to grasp the complexity of the situation. Hopefully you have helped some understand how a loving mother can reach that place where she just wants all of the pain to stop, especially for the child involved. These stories are not about mothers who hate their children. As well conceived/written as this post is, there are clearly some who do not have the capacity to understand. I suspect that they might see compassion as being unjust. I also suspect that they see the world in a pretty black and white kind of way. I understand how scary it is for certain members of the population to feel as if they are disposable and not worthy of fair treatment. That is a legitimate concern. However, that is not case here. Thank you so much for trying to help better elucidate this sad situation.

  • Jennifer

    bs clearly has a vivid imagination. I wonder if they realize that all of the details that they are filling in are way out in left field. I have also seen and read what is available and I have a completely different take on the situation. Could it be that, because we were not there, neither one of us actually knows and should probably refrain from filling in the blanks? The kitten thing was meant to be funny. Do you seriously get a ghoulish vibe from it? Perhaps the dark way in which you have interpreted it speaks more about you than her.

    • bs

      Issy has autism, right? And she’s being instructed to put a kitten in the oven.
      Think about this from the perspective of proper parenting. Now, consider the fact that Issy has autism. There’s nothing funny about confusing Issy and teaching her to do something like that.

      • Jennifer

        I have a 13 year old daughter with autism and she knows not to put pets in the microwave. Issy is functioning at a higher level than that as well. No one was confused by that silly family video. Except, maybe, you.

        • bs

          Jennifer, the video shows Issy hesitating. Please stop with the insults every time you respond to any of my posts. I’m not insulting you, so try the same courtesy. Each time you reply you do so with insults instead of discussing the case we’re talking about.

          • Jennifer

            She hesitates because it’s weird to put a kitten in a microwave. She is giggling the whole time and having fun with her family. Please stop trying to turn it into something other than what it was. I don’t mean to be insulting, but you have posted some pretty outrageous comments and I am just trying to point out that maybe, just possibly, you are way off on this.

            • bs

              so you insult when you disagree? if you look at the statements made by the mom in this case, the theories being posted are not only possible, but to many of us seem probable. The way you’re standing up for the ridiculous video makes it seem as if you’re not really interested in looking at the facts and are more interested in trying to make excuses. as for the kids having fun? it appeared the only one having fun was the woman who was creating the video for kelli when I’m not sure but I think she was off on another solo vacation at the time. the dad under the couch and then the other guy making a weird statement about what he was doing under there and saying ‘your daughter is watching’ is an entirely different subject. Not exactly parents of the year and I’m pretty surprised that a man who is the principal of a school would have approved having that video up on youtube.

  • Trixie

    I completely agree with bs 100%. All along I have been thinking to myself that this woman is an attention seeker from the get go. She DID have more help than most, the community rallied around her family with money and fundraisers and tshirts and videos etc. Kelli got sick of it. She didn’t want to deal with it anymore and when bs said, “she acts like a teenager who is sick of babysitting”, THAT is exactly how I look at it. She might have people fooled, but she certainly does not have me fooled, and any professionals who read her blog or watch her Youtube videos or listen to her radio interview are going to see right through her. I believe in our justice system and her day is coming.

  • Eliza

    Thank you for your erudition and courage. We all benefit from it, even those who vociferously object.

    Bs, Pablo, Jenny:
    Thank you for your passionate belief in the rights of children. I am wholly with you on that. I understand becoming so blinded by incomprehension and anger that I say damning things about those who visited unspeakable harm upon others, and my smoke point? Children, those in a position where power can be abused over them.

    I have read and re-read this, and I implore you three to consider this point, because it is the axis on which our seeming oppositions can turn into recognition: Adrienne IS NOT writing about the murder/suicide attempt. She stops there. At NO TIME does she condone, claim to understand or relate AT ALL to. the. crime. She’s. Not. Writing. About. That. Except to cry out in anguish, “There are parents all around you for whom a moment–a NANOsecond–of empathy (for a situation into which you may have NO insight) and care could pay off a hundred thousand times more than it costs you.”
    That ^”situation” is not Kelli. It’s not crime. It’s not violence. It’s the feeling of being alone, of shame.

    You–all of us, but perhaps especially you, Bs, Pablo, and Jenny–have that ability, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. It could be:
    -an offer to pick up a spilled bag
    -an expression that communicates, “You are not alone.”
    …or perhaps the biggest of all, the most arduous moment to achieve:
    -suspension of judgment.

    Again: NOT of Kelli. Of someone in distress.

    She bravely puts it to us all that this story has provided a catalyst for self-examination in a situation of despair, with alarming relevant similarities, which STOP at the point of acting criminally or EVEN with intent. That is why Kelli’s name is even mentioned at all, in the first place.

    I won’t judge you three, because you know what? Upon reflection, I can relate to your passionate denial of a human being’s capability to reach such a point. I get it. I am loath to grant such a thing is possible, even though, obviously, for Kelli, it was.

    So let’s stop there. Think of those around you for whom a moment of kindness–or even without a particular demonstration of kindness, but most clearly without judgment–could be all that’s necessary to take away the straw that would break the camel’s back. Maybe even a handful of straws. Maybe even permanently, because…moments are, inexplicably, powerful.

    We could all use that.
    And if, “We could all…” Is too much to grant, substitute, “We could all who have not committed a crime (or acted with intent to)” use that.

    You have that power, and you don’t have to alter any of your convictions beyond that, which is so infinitesimal and yet so immensely, shatteringly, life-altering.
    If only for a moment.

  • Eliza

    ^(Also a fourth, Trixie, please consider)

    • bs

      Eliza, you are painting us out to be uncaring or unwilling to reach out to others in need which is completely off base. WE care deeply for the rights of children like Issy. We perhaps have been overwhelmed in caring for our children/parents/good friends with special needs, we have become frustrated, perhaps we have felt alone. The stapleton case is not the case to use if someone is hoping to promote awareness for caregivers, it’s that simple. Take your blinders off and see this woman for real. Being duped by a narcissistic actress then singing her song of martyrdom does nothing to promote awareness for caregivers. It only serves to offend those of us who do see through the facade and who stand firmly for the rights of children.

  • Trixie

    Let’s for just one minute (which is way too long, in my opinion) say that Kelli didn’t attempt to kill her daughter. Let’s just say that she ONLY published the things on her blog about her autistic daughter. Those things alone say everything about the type of person/mother this woman is. Here is a mentally challenged teenage girl whose mother found it necessary to tell the world every little detail about her every single day. She video taped episodes in the privacy of her own home (which, in my opinion, were posted conveniently just prior to her attempted murder/”suicide” attempt, she blogged about how “sloppy” her daughter is; how personal hygiene is the furthest thing from her mind (let me remind you that Izzy is mentally challenged…hello MOM, try TEACHING her how to care for herself and make hygiene a priority)she referred to her daughter as “murdery” in a joking manner (um, tell me again who’s “murdery”?) She basically made her daughter out to be a monster and a big fat inconvenience to the entire world with her posts (which happened daily and in excessive length…how does a woman with so much to do, so much on her plate have time to blog such lengthy and frequent posts? And have a home that is such a disaster from what people close to the family have told me) Whatever. My point is: These are not things that a loving mother does. You don’t spew every detail of your teenager’s life on the internet for the world to see. How about some respect? Privacy? Compassion? Tolerance? None of these are characteristics that Kelli has shown through her blog…words that SHE put down.
    I believe there are a lot more things that happened behind the scenes with this mother and daughter than people know at this point. If MY mom posted my entire life on her stupid blog about every single move I made, I’d probably be violent and want to kick her ass too!
    In the end, I”m glad Izzy seems to be doing better and I’m glad this poor excuse for a mother is behind bars.
    Let me just add that this is not judgemental. Just because I don’t feel the same way as some of you do, doesn’t mean I’m judging. It’s my opinion and I have a right to it. When a mother tries to kill her child, there’s no need to judge…the actions speak for themseleves and the action was attempting to kill her daughter. That’s not OK, people. Regardless of how tired you are, how fed up or overwhelmed you are, how scared, worried, stressed or sick and fricken tired of life you are, you don’t try to kill your kids. DUH!

    • Jennifer

      judg·men·tal adjective \ˌjəj-ˈmen-təl\

      : tending to judge people too quickly and critically

      : of, relating to, or involving judgment

      • I will add to that:

        o·pin·ion [uh-pin-yuhn]
        1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
        2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

    • bs

      Trixie, excellent post, thank you. I notice that when you post here on this comment thread that people who disagree rush to label you instead of discussing the facts. I support your post absolutely. She was showing in her own blog that she seemed to lack big time on parenting skills, for sure. I believe she was abusive to her daughter and when her ‘excuse’ to keep from having to work was healing in her absence then she it became more difficult for her to play the martyr routine. plus, I don’t think she ever intended on killing herself, but I do think she intended on killing her daughter when one considers how long it took the daughter to recover compared to how soon the ‘mom’ was conscious afterward. I hope the justice system doesn’t fall for any of her martyr routine and her daughter gets the justice she deserves in this case which would mean the ‘mom’ being convicted of attempted murder.

  • Years ago, a dear family friend killed his wife. In his confession, taken after he turned himself in hours after the crime, he said he had planned to kill himself as well but was unable to follow through.

    In the years since that happened, I have learned to live with two separate truths about this man. One truth: he is a murderer who ended the life of a woman I knew and for whom I grieve. The other truth: this man is a loving husband, a member of my church choir, a gentle, questioning soul, and a friend of long-standing with all the attendant shared history and entrenched affection that comes with that. Nothing will ever change either truth. They live side by side in my mental biography of him. The murder he committed doesn’t change who he was to me. His prior position in my life doesn’t mitigate the murder. Accepting both sets of truth is one of the hardest mental exercises I’ve ever engaged in; it would be easier to bury the memories and condemn the man. But that is dishonest.

    All of which is to say, we can observe the conflicting sets of truths about what Adrienne describes of her own darkest hour and of what Kelli Stapleton did. These are mothers who reached a place of darkness that I would never wish on anyone and what they did or didn’t do in those places does not erase who they are as parents, as human beings, as caregivers, as advocates for a better way for the mentally ill or disabled people. There are two truths: people can be loving parents and also do unspeakable things.

    This all is the terrible complexity of being human. The test of all of us is to work through the desire to condemn and ask ourselves the hard questions. Seeking to understand is not the same as seeking to absolve. Adrienne gives us a chance to understand.

  • Trixie

    Thanks for the English lesson. I went to 4th grade and am very aware of what both mean. As I stated, these are my opinions…”my personal view” and I’m entitled to them.

    • Of course you are, and nobody is going to change your mind if you don’t want it changed. I hope you’ll consider this, though: from this post and comments I’ve left on other sites, I’ve gotten several dozen emails from parents who are terrified and in danger. They contact me in search of support because they don’t know where else to turn. In most cases, I am the only person to whom they have ever spoken (or written) about those feelings because they are afraid that anyone who hears how they feel will react the way you are reacting.

      I do understand the temptation to make Kelli into a monster, some kind of person who is dramatically different from most other parents, fundamentally broken or evil. And who knows? Maybe she is. Maybe I am. And maybe these feelings are a common experience that seems uncommon to you because you have never felt it. My grandma never had an instant of nausea with any of her pregnancies, so she decided that morning sickness was something women made up to get their husbands to give them sympathy. She had never experienced that, so she refused to believe it was real.

      We want people who are in danger to know that if they ask for help, they’ll get it. You can’t insist on drawing and quartering Kelli in the town square and expect the next desperate caregiver to speak up when she’s in trouble.

    • bs

      Two truths? Yeah, abusive partners love the two truths argument. Or better yet, the love the person but not the actions. Well, the truth is the parenting skills seemed lacking in the first place. I believe she was an abuser to her daughter. And every once in awhile abusers kill their targets.

  • Eliza

    But Trixie,
    Nobody here is applauding the crime that Kelli committed. Nobody is saying, “I think trying to kill her child and herself is perfectly rational.” (<—quite the opposite!) Nobody is saying, "Let's see if we can all make sure something like this can happen again, for the betterment of all mankind."
    NOBODY has said, "She tried to kill her child and under these circumstances, that's OK." Nobody said that. Not one person.

    You can turn the dial down.

    I genuinely hear you. And I assume your vehemence originates in fury over anyone thinking this crime can be considered *less of a crime*.
    Nobody here has stated such a thing. The most salient points that can be discussed, with the exception of those litigators who are *actually handling* the aforementioned criminal case, are those having to do with the difference it can make and the opportunities that become possible when we don't judge people who benefit from non-judgmental support AS ANTIDOTE to despair and shame. Why? So that despair and shame might not triumph over love and reason.

    I'm going to afford myself the luxury of assuming you misunderstood my words above re: being judgmental. You, individually, are not required (certainly not by me, anyway) to think well of Kelli, nor even to afford her one iota of your personal empathy. But if you make that leap from observing a person who has that empathy to an assumption that s/he is capable of the same criminal act, that's affording undue judgment where it is unwarranted, unfair, and egregiously unjust.
    Not only is it unwarranted, it compounds what does not behoove us. It also can provide the ANTITHESIS of a possible antidote. It assigns outright complicity where there is none. Because NOBODY here has said her actions were JUSTIFIED.

    Do you see my point? You can turn the dial down. I promise.

  • Me

    I have a 15 year old daughter born with a brain injury. Before I begin, I would like to say that my daughter has come full circle at this point and is amazing. BUT this was not always the case. My family had so many terrible years before. So terrible none of us (there are 5 members) actually wanted to be in this house anymore. I am not talking about a bad day, or week or even month, I’m talking about Years…When you live in a “One Flew over the Coo coo’s nest”environment for a very long time, it’s not surprising that we all began to fly over the coo coo’s nest ourselves. She was violent, impulsive, negative. It was a very very dark DECADE seeing as these behaviors are never generally short lived. I wanted to die. It was so beyond tough I don’t even have any word to paint the mental dichotomy that unravels with a special needs child like my daughter. And believe me I know tough.

    The edge is never very far when you’re stuck in the middle of groundhog day for a very very very long time. I sympathize because I’ve been there. I had to fight so hard to get help and was rejected, I had to appeal and be bullied by the school district, as the whole process never favors either the child or the family but only budgets. I did find my heroes. LA based Shabani Institute. An amazing team of behavioral interventionists that I credit my daughter’s incredible change with, as well as a boat load of effort and thick skin on my behalf too. Having said this, good behaviorists are few and far between. My daughter had had others, I call them glorified babysitters, seeing as fundamentally they didn’t have a clue. The real trick is to find the right person who truly knows what they are doing. Not easy, as most are barely qualified and have no better ideas than the parents themselves. My heart goes out to this situation…I find it hard to believe that this was a well planned murder execution. It was a moment in time when everything went wrong.

    I am thankful for the outcome of my family life today…But holding on was more than difficult. I now know what a gun in your mouth feels like. I never would have thought that I would ever get close to doing something like that, but sometimes, under these circumstances a gun in your mouth can feel like utter relief.

  • Me

    Me again. This topic is SO important. I think the bigger issue is getting lost here…It’s all very well to say “she murdered her child” when you have no idea of the environment she has been living in. Our brains are very precious and can lead us into all kinds of worm holes over a life time. Generally, humans “bounce back” if not soon, eventually. When you have a special needs child with extreme behaviors “bouncing back” becomes harder and harder to do. Until one day…

    There seems to be a real lack of “experienced” help available and reading from the comments here, and anywhere else on the internet when it comes to, not only the child with disabilities but also the entire family dynamics with a child with disabilities, parents are always the ones blamed. We have not got the support we need because the truth about the life surrounding raising a disabled child is false. Most people say ” I am blessed” or ” God knew you were strong so gave you this responsibility” Crock of crap. Real support is needed, real meaningful support requires money. I haven’t had any neighbors offering me any kind of respite in all these years as most are too nervous and feel too inexperienced to help out. In my opinion, unless you have actually lived and breathed this environment day in day out, you are not entitled to an opinion, because you will NEVER understand the strength it takes.

  • Melanie

    Obviously those of you who are being judgemental about the Stapleton issue, have never been where this family has been.
    You know, it’s a law that we can murder our babies before their born,from which from the time of conception are a living human being; but when we’ve tried everything in this world to help one of our own children after they’re born, when we’ve loved them from before birth, and they grow up trying to kill us; then we don’t have an option of taking their life, when everything we’ve tried has gone in vain.
    Everything that Kelli had done for Issy, had been destroyed in one fail swoop in the IEP, when the Sp. Ed. person denied
    Issy to come back to her normal school.
    When Issy had worked so hard to become a different person, but yet the school couldn’t forgive her past, and how many of us, forgive time & time again to ppl all the time. But they refused to allow her to try again.
    You tell me when Kelli had any time to stop pleading for help for Issy, and the family, so they could have somekind of normalcy? Those weeks of Issy being away at the treatment facility, when did Kelli
    ever give up? She was reaching out for help in many different directions, to no avail. Knowone in any way to treat Issy or educate her? Kelli was at her wits end. She’d already tried everything. The only one thing, that I remember was mental health therapy, but when did she actually have any time to care for herself, without thinking of that child first and always. Kelli didn’t even have the time to really care suffitiently for her other two children, let alone take care of the needs of her marriage?
    You tell me, you self-rightous ppl, if you’d have time in your day, 24/7, 257dys a year, to care for a child without a beating from her, to take care of yourself, emotionally and mentally?
    Kelli had been beaten several times by Issy; Kelli still loved her, know matter what she did; and know matter what she did, she fought til the end.
    I’ve been where Kelli has been with the educational system. They refused certain
    techniques, unique to my child who couldn’t learn the same way other children learned. But they caused my daughter’s learning disability. Not me!
    In kindergarten, the teachers spread the word not to teach our daughter, so they could force me into keeping her back a year or two. They called her retarded, many times. I saw different, as she could
    follow instructions from the time she was two. She was very well behaved. Always well cared for, groomed, dressed, etc., mostly on her own, after a certain age.
    But yet, she was called names by the school staff. By the time she was in 3rd grade, she was definately showing signs of not being educated. That was not my fault.
    They never informed me, nor did my family that kindergarten the child had to know certain things before she could start school. When did things change that there
    were pre-requisites for starting kindergarten? I never knew. I felt like that was their job. That’s what they were being trained for. I was busy having
    surgeries, and taking care of my home & my children, one being 21mo’s younger than her, which was ill also. But that doesn’t make her retarded. Medical tests
    provide that information, doctors perform those kinds of tests, not teachers, not sp. ed. They didn’t know my daughter from the day she was born! I knew her. I’d have recognized the signs, if she was slow, or retarded! I’m not ignorant either. I too have a formal education, and
    a great student in school. They probably didn’t have as much education as I do. As while in elementary, jr. high, and HS., I worked daily with those children, and taught them indivually along side the teacher when the teacher couldn’t get them to understand something, I could.
    My daughter was also denied certain technologies within the Law. My daughter
    and I also attended classes given to certain families with disabilies, to learn & write the laws. But you return to these same school systems, for them to turn around and tell you the law was written for them, not your family; or your child doesn’t qualify for certain techniques, or when you do get the help from the State personally, they refuse to use it to help your child and others to stay up with their classes. Then want to take credit for what you’ve done. I wanted my daughter to learn the law so she could advocate for herself, so she could recognize for herself, when one of the staff was not following the law that was provided.
    Speaking of such things, our son was exceptionally intelligent. In some cases he knew more than the teacher did in elementary. He was much more advanced than his teachers and fellow students. We
    couldn’t afford to give either child everything educationally that they could’ve used, but we did our best to provide what we could afford, from an inheritance. Still not acceptable by the
    school standards. We had both children tested, to find out where they laid within
    the educational system. Where we had them tested at, showed that our son should be moved up several grades, as he tested at genius level, which qualified him for Mensa; our daughter showed that she was just not being taught.
    School refused any malfeasence(?spel). Still refused what our children needed.
    All I could do was pray that they hurried up and got out of our school system.
    When our daughter finally reached her Jr. year in HS., as she was taking reg. classes, only a couple of sp.ed. classes, she qualified to study a foreign language.
    They refused her that ability to try. If it wasn’t for the new sp. ed. director who’d come in that year, our daughter would not have been able to attempt it.
    Since she actually learned a different way than the rest of us (dylexia)she might have enjoyed learning a different language. She did graduate with a diploma, not a certificate like you would from 12yrs of Sp.Ed. Because of her taking 2yrs of French, she got a standing ovation from the Principal, Sp.Ed. Dir., Board of Education, and all that attended the ceremonies for graduation. She opened the door for other children of Dyslexia, to try a foreign language, before dismissing the capabilities of her learning abilities. These children are exceptionally intelligent, which should be given 1/2 a chance to learn their own way. The Special Education Laws & Restrictions need to be re-evaluated to allow children to learn in their own way.
    I plead with all of you rightous ppl here, to reconsider what Kelli has gone thru. Maybe thru my story, you can understand. I never got to that point, but I had other stresses along with these, that changed me to a person I didn’t know; and if you’re restricted councelling, because of where you reside, and the councellor doesn’t understand your situation, no amount of councelling will do you much good. Think about what you’d do in this same situation. Thank you

    • bs

      but melanie you’re painting her out as some kind of victim. do you understand that the school was set to help and she went in and tried to steamroll over the teacher?

  • Thank you for writing your blog. There will always be ignorant close minded people who can’t begin to imagine what one day is like in this life. Perhaps what happened to Kelli and Izzy what you have shared from your experience and what sadly will continue to happen will make the way for change that is so desperately needed. I too have lived this life moment by moment day by day. I confess I have not reached the point of thinking about murder-suicide but I beg the Lord daily to have mercy and take my son before he takes me because of the trauma and abuse he will be exposed to without me being here to care for him. I almost envy parents who children are terminal. I know “gasp” again many will not begin to understand that comment. I know most of those parents would give everything they had for one more minute, one more hour with their child, but those of us living this life, with the “not so easy ones, the not so likeable, not so joyful, not so lovable ones” do understand. I see reports every single day of teachers and aides abusing the crap out of these kids at school, and the older ones and even adults now without family to step up and protect and care for them they get tortured, stripped naked and humiliated and kicked and beaten. I have poured my life into my son. I have sacrificed my life for him and will do so until I take my last breathe. I think always about what his future will be like and what steps I can take to make sure he gets the best possible care when I am no longer here to provide it or intervene on his behalf. America and the World do not understand the crisis this epidemic is going to bring as the massive increase in numbers grows into adulthood. When you have 15 yr olds and 22 year olds and 35 or 60 year old men (and women) having two year old tantrums. They do not get that when that mental 2 year old hits you with his bulging bicep or pushes you away that you get physically hurt. Every moment in our life is about maintaining the calm, for life is as manageable as possible and what we go through in the moments of distress to bring them back under control before they hurt themselves or us or both is unreal. Scripture tells us that God works all things together for good. I know that one small, but not small to me thing that has come from the tragedy in the Stapelton family is that many of us who live mostly trapped and isolated lives because of the needs of our very special children have seen just how many “of us” there are out there. I wish we could harness that somehow for change. I wish there was an answer, a good answer, a healing answer for my sons future. There is not and while I will still pray every day that the Lord will take him home before me I do everything I can with every moment I have to make him more manageable, more tolerant, easier to care for because the easier he is the less likely he is to have a traumatic distressed and abusive life without me.
    Thank you again for sharing your life with the readers and to all the parents out there living this life I pray blessings and rest and peace and moments of joy all over you.

  • Eliza

    Bs, I want to genuinely apologize for making you feel that way. That was not my intent. Clearly, I have, so may I please draw your attention to something and then clarify?
    My first statement was an expression of thanks to you for your passionate defense of children, and the second an…actually, you can just scroll back and see it.
    Kindly re-read it if you have a moment. In any case, whether you do or not:

    I understand what you are saying about Kelli and blinders, but to be frank, I really don’t care about this individual. That sounds harsher than I think it is, but at this point it is after the fact; she committed a crime and there is a criminal case and it’s being handled by lawyers and advocates, neither of which I am.
    She’s not my concern. I just…I only have so much energy to give, and she’s beyond my capacity. I know that’s my OWN limitation.
    My concern is that the fact that many good people are overwhelmed and feel ashamed to say, “This doesn’t feel far enough away from me. That scares the hell out of me because I love my child more than anything and what if dark forces of hopelessness make me go crazy?”

    Let me repeat: I don’t know Kelli, nor do I care to, at all. She’s not someone I want to be close to. She–having committed a crime–doesn’t represent, to me, a worthy cause. IT’S ALSO NOT MY BUSINESS. It’s the business, now, of the law.
    I afford myself the luxury of reserving judgment of her because–and this is important–I have the inexplicable faith that it is in God’s hands, and whatever comes of that is…yeah, I do NOT want to get involved. That’s out of my jurisdiction, big time.

    But HERE is my point: I won’t–will NOT–attribute the capacity of her actions to those who read about this with alarm and say, “Oh, God, what if I crack? Holy ___, help me…”
    I will NOT turn my back on those requests, those informed voices of experience and knowledge, those PLEAS. I will not ALLOW the actions of Kelli to interfere with my ability to show support for those in fear.

    That’s giving Kelli something I don’t care to give. And if that’s misguided, I figure God (whomever or whatever God might be) can pick up my slack on that. Because I already asked that of God. And it went something like this,
    “Dear God,
    Really??? This is how you bring the needs of so many parents to my attention?? Was this extreme ACtually necessary?? Because I call it over-the-top, a little too Vindictive-Old-Testament for me, I reeeeeally think you could have effected greater awareness more gently.
    Don’t be hectoring me about not judging this Kelli Whomever, here’s the deal: I’ll wash my hands of giving her any of my time because um, just, no. And by the same token, anyone–ANYONE–who says, “Help! This I fear.” will not go un-noticed by me. I will not judge him/her. Please don’t press me on the Kelli part; she’s all yours.
    ‘K? Does that work? Because seriously, what. the firetruck.
    Your Not So Humble and DEFinitely Pissed Off Servant,

    That’s just how it went down with me. That’s all I’m sayin’.

    • bs

      eliza, i appreciate your post and i’m hearing you. this is where I’m at though –> the people who are saying yikes what if are considering themselves in her shoes. Her case and her friends’ attempts to portray her as a victim or as a woman who was so overwhelmed is not fair to the other parents who are now saying yikes what if. She and her friends are seeming to pretend to the world that this could happen to anyone. they are trying desperately to minimize exactly who and what this woman is and has done. So, my point is that the people who are freaking about what if they reach this dark place is only b/c they are buying into her martyr routine. And that’s where the problem is. A quick look at the facts that have been released so far and it seems obvious that she was not overwhelmed or lacking any support. to those of us with degrees in psychology and experience in working with victims of child abuse, it is alarming to see so many people buying her stories hook, line, and sinker. What I want to say to all of you who are worrying that you could possibly do such a thing is this –> Please do not let this woman’s actions give you any reason to be fearful. Consider the possibility that she was already an abuser who was abusing her autistic daughter and who was upset when she could no longer get away with it. That’s not you. You are not an abuser. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then obviously you know to reach out for help. For those of you who have experienced anything close to cracking or to imagining your life w/o your child, please know that help is available for you. pick up the phone, go to a blog like this, call your sister, call your friend, call 911. there is help available. This case quite likely has absolutely nothing to do with a mom who was feeling overwhelmed and each and every one of us who is dealing with caring for a special needs child or parent deserves better than to have a case where it’s quite likely the alleged criminal is using what we are going through as her excuse for her actions. I hope you can understand what I’m trying to say, and I hope the insults toward me and the others who do have experience, education, and training to question what truly was happening in this case and the guts to say so can stop and a discussion can begin so that more of you will hopefully begin to stop being fearful of any similarities and you can join those of us who are rallying around children and other victims like the girl in this case who deserve to have a voice, deserve to be safe, and deserve to be heard.

  • Molly Franks

    I am very uncomfortable with the effort to portray Kelli Stapleton as a crazy bitch. What you are doing, in effect, is saying her husband tolerated abusive behavior from her directed at their child. He would be complicit as a result. I am not buying this. It is a WAY over-simplification of the story, maybe because it reduces the story to pablum making it easier for you to digest. For everything off-the-chart negative you are saying about her, you are also saying about her family. Do you really believe her husband would have left her to advocate and be in charge of their daughter if she was as bat shit crazy as you portray her in your negative comments? These are not stupid people. Also, as much as I think that youtube video is painful to watch (just because I don’t find it amusing, it’s 6 minutes long and I had to watch it so I would know what some folks keep referring to), PLEASE QUIT REFERRING TO IT AS A SIGN OF KELLI’S CRAZINESS!! A grown up man (maybe Kelli’s husband) is videotaping and there is another respected adult from our community in the video, as well. It was meant as a joke, they were all in on it, and it is just terribly boring.

    • bs

      the person who made the video and the parents who posted it were not taking part in proper or healthy parenting, it’s that simple. to instruct an autistic child to place a kitten in an oven is absurd.

  • Eliza

    I haven’t watched this kitten video, I admit. I can’t imagine being able to. But it seems only natural to freak out about it and consider it a strong indicator of a parent being in a whole weird area. I wouldn’t chalk it up to um, good judgment.

    And to my previous points, if I knew of a parent doing this? I would be figuring out how to intercede in a way that was helpful, not harmful. It seems pretty extreme to me. Definitely a bright red waving flag.

  • Eliza

    Okay, yeah. Wow. That video is…not okay. Not.

    But we have the ability to make distinctions. I won’t assume anyone feeling overwhelmed and desperate by life with relevantly similar stressors possesses such egregiously immoral attributes as the video exemplifies. (Because she’s actually committing a crime–it is, in fact, against the law to put a kitten in a bag and swing it around your head, among other acts–and on video to boot)

    That’s not representative of Persons-In-Kelli’s-Shoes. It is representative of Kelli. I do see that Kelli representing parents under her same stressors is thereby problematic.

    But I don’t have to like or support a single thing about Kelli’s parenting to appreciate *this*: her crime threw light on a subject heretofore not obvious to me.

    • Eliza, I so appreciate that you keep trying to bring the conversation back to the point as I originally intended it. This isn’t about Kelli at all. None of us knows enough about her or her family to reach any broad conclusions. This is about a broader social issue that we can’t address if we just write Kelli off as an evil person.

    • Jennifer

      Watch closely, no kittens in microwaves that were ever turned on, no kitten actually put in the bag (it was something else), no kittens were harmed!!! IT WAS A JOKE!!! You even see her fake catching the kitten at the end – like an out-take. She was having fun with her kids. Video editing isn’t magic. it actually shows a family being creative and having fun together. Wow.

      • bs

        jennifer, it wasn’t kelli, she was probably off on a vacation again and ‘she missed her kittens’. watch it again and notice that kelli is who posted it four years ago, showing her approval then, right?

  • Yes, thank you for keeping that very important conversation alive. Last year, I was able to participate as a Family Fellow leader in the LEND program at Children’s Hospital, Boston. In a conversation on a list-serv that included all the LEND fellows and faculty around the country, there were only two of us (each of us a parent, although the other fellow was a clinician as well) who chimed in with anything personal in a thread about how to encourage parents to fully participate in their child’s medical care. I wrote about how scary it can be to get real and honest with people who have the power to take your child away from you, how hard it would be to be open about feeling anything less than like supermom. This topic is so important, yet the stigma around disability and mental health is compounded by the stigma of being judged a bad parent, so it is very difficult for people to speak up. Thank you for providing a safe place to do so.

  • Melanie

    I do believe in some-way, that Kelli was a victim.
    I don’t believe she, knowing Kelli, she went in, in anyway to steamroll the Sp.Ed. Dept.!
    Kelli, is soft-spoken, tender-hearted, and downright, lovable!
    I’ve never known her to have a mean bone in her body.
    What I’ve seen out of her with Issy, is total, unrelentless Love to her and her other children.
    Our family love our children, til it engrains in us, a love that goes so deep, that we will take anything to keep them from anykind of pain & agony.
    I do believe the teacher that came into the IEP, was set-up to destroy everything that they had succeeded with.
    To me, they weren’t willing, to give Issy
    another try at the school; nor were they
    prepared to give any suggestions into where they were suppose to go next, for a
    child with her violent outbursts. The
    Special Education Dept. are suppose to have most of the answers, or at least try to find and pay for everything that the
    child needs for educational purposes.
    These were totally denied to Issy; so with
    everything that Kelli had tried for Issy,
    that teacher came in with one fale-swoop,
    and destroyed everything that had been tried in the facility.
    Issy is not an easy child to raise. If you’re frustrated at having a normal teenager, try living with a child who is
    totally out of control, and is 20x worse than any normal teenager. There has got
    to be placement for her somewhere at the
    State’s expense.
    I feel for the Stapleton’s, because I know
    finances have to be stressed beyond belief. I know, from our own personal experience, that with someone with special illnesses, and educational issues, it can drain a wallet quickly; you can lose your car, home, anything you think you own. Did you notice the vehicle
    she drove? It sure wasn’t anything new!
    It may have been a nice mini-van, but it wasn’t brand spanking new. With his job, you’d think they’d have a super-nice home, car, clothing etc. They didn’t! Everything went to raising this particular child. Can you imagine the feeling of their other children, of what they’ve had to do without, to put into just one child? Well, I do. We’ve lost
    vehicles, a home, our finances, for two
    children, with me being disabled on top of everything, I couldn’t work. My dh didn’t, and still doesn’t make the income that the Stapleton’s do/did?
    Kelli was pushed so far, that the only hope she felt was destruction of both of them. Other’s have killed for less! All she wanted was some hope for her helpless child.

    Thank you!

  • Eliza

    This is a brief statement with links to supportive services and sources. Please take note and reference it for your own needs and the needs of others.
    I have bookmarked and saved the link in my Notes app. I think it is well worth putting aside any speculation to have this information at hand to respond kindly to members of *our communities*.

    It’s also worth mentioning that many of the crisis coping skills useful to families that incorporate autistic individual care into their daily lives are fully applicable to those who struggle with the crises of stressful family life in general.

    Sometimes we just need to re-equip our toolbox, but can’t figure out how to get around the hardware store. Let’s have the maps ready.

  • Eliza

    The video is horrifying in its inTENT. Come the heck on. It’s appalling.
    If someone has fun with their kids like that and I know him/her to be a kind, loving person in my other experiences of him or her, that’s where we sit down and I ask, “Tell me what’s going on. You’re exhibiting signs of alarming instability. You’re not like this. What do you need, and how can we get it for you?”

    I would try to say that, anyway, instead of my instinctual blue streak of swear words bracketed by, “What the…” and, “…is wrong with you???”

    Because vilifying just isn’t very efficacious.

    • Jennifer

      Its intent was to be funny, using irony. I get that this is an advanced form of humor, but Kelli is a pretty smart lady (as are her kids).
      iro·ny noun \ˈī-rə-nē also ˈī(-ə)r-nē\
      : the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny

      : a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected

  • Eliza

    Yes, I understand that, from the Greek, εἰρωνεία.

    If that’s what was intended, I don’t think I’m alone in not finding it successful in that intent, but I’ll grant you that’s subjective because I AM NOT TRYING TO ARGUE with you. Nor do I assume that if you think its intent was ironic it makes you any particular type of person. I don’t know you, I’m not bent on insulting you or anyone else, I can appreciate what you say, and I apologize for my tone when I said, “Come the heck on.”

    Would you agree that, regardless of K. Stapleton’s attributes in the moral sphere, it’s important to be mindful and pay attention in our communities, especially to those we know, and that when something seems askew, we determine if there is a way to help? It’s difficult. It’s hard not to come off as patronizing, critical, or judgmental.

    And we have to be able to step back and say, gently, “I could be wrong. Maybe it’s a form of humor I lack. But I want you to know that if you need me, please ask. And if it’s beyond my capabilities to respond, I will tell you that, and we’ll figure it out.”

  • Melanie

    I do feel like Kelli’s situation has been so misunderstood, and misrepresented. Yes, she did wrong, but it did however bring attention to the misfit education is for autism.
    For everyone’s understanding, Kelli had been reaching out. She reached so far out, that she fell off the ladder. I feel so bad for her, as I know exactly where she was, altho I didn’t fall off the ladder, but slipped into a deep depression, as I didn’t know what to do either? Everytime I came into an IEP, I
    felt they were against our daughter, and me. They kept shutting everything down, everytime.
    If it hadn’t been for the fact that we’d
    gotten a new SP. Ed. Director, there wouldn’t have had success in the end.
    As far as Issy is concerned with her particular kind of Autism, the only success there was hope for was her not being abusive. If they could get her to that point, maybe, just maybe, she could learn to be a contributing member of society. I think that was probably the only hope Kelli was asking for.
    Thru all of this from the beginning of what I’d learned of this, and started following her online conversations, I read
    between the lines of her deep-deep pain.
    I almost could see what was coming to an end, of what was going to happen, but being so close to the situation, in feeling her pain; I was hoping and praying that she’d think all of this thru, and smart enough that she wouldn’t do what she did. I do believe that she was in such stress, that she felt life was hopeless. I don’t know, I’ve not talked to her, but only a couple of times, but those times I didn’t read into her situation until the real end of all of this. I wished I could take away the
    pain. I had told her, online, at one point, I threatened to come up there to help her, but I lack the resources to travel without help. The next thing I knew this all happened out of knowhere.
    I am an advocate for persons with disabilities, trained thru the IN govn’rs office. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give
    you an expense acct., to travel the country to help ppl in hopelessness. I wish I could’ve done more for our daughter, her daughter, and other children. But school systems are stubborn, and unwilling in some circumstances to help as much as they could.

  • Melanie

    As far as the video goes on U-tube, I have not seen the video, or had heard of this before? I really wonder if she’d posted a video that wasn’t her? There are many things you can get off the internet, and ppl mistake a person as being another?
    I don’t know, I’ve never seen it, would you please post it so I can see it?
    I’m going to draw at straws here, but there has to be a different interpretation of what happened there.
    I cannot make a judgement call without seeing the video.
    As far as someone’s statement, about her
    travel to Africa? I talked to her sister
    the other day, and she said, there was a time, that Kelli had done some traveling, but doesn’t know if Africa was one of them?
    What I understood her sis to say, was that
    before Issy was born, and perhaps before her marriage, that there was traveling done. Didn’t you do things that would be
    out of your norm, before you were married, or had children? I did, did you?
    After I had children, traveling was very much out of the question, as the children’s welfare was much more indicative than my affairs! I think there
    is alot of judging here, and ppl don’t know the whole truth about anything. I
    refuse to judge Kelli, as I don’t know everything about her, but know enough, that she is not a dangerous type of person. She’s very loving, and supportive of others going thru any type of difficult time.
    Her blogs, were just that. BLOGS!! They really didn’t mean alot, unless you were a new mother. I’ve seen blogs, that were
    definately questionable, but if you knew
    the person, they were not what they seemed. The eyes and the brain are blurred
    to the truth. I believe that the judgemental ppl on here, need to have their eyes opened to the truth, and stop living in a fantasy world for other ppl.
    That’s all for the night.

    • Jennifer

      It’s her (and her husband) in the video. Not sure what that is about. Also don’t understand the constant insistence she was often on solo vacations. You can find the video on YouTube if you search on her name. It appears that they were looking after someone else’s kittens and made a funny video about how they were being cared for, that’s all.

      • bs

        i think you’re wrong jennifer. i think it was made by someone other than her and her husband. her husband is in the video (the guy under the couch and then the very disgusting comment following).
        And yes, I think she was off on another one of her solo vacations.

  • bs

    Jennifer, what a strange comment. If someone is feeling overwhelmed or needing help there is help available. To use the case in question to try to raise sympathy for someone who allegedly attempted to murder her daughter is disingenuous. Again, if you care to discuss the issues myself and others have posted, fine. but to simply attack others who disagree with your position and tell them to go away b/c obviously you seem not to want to address the truth of what has occurred is about as childish as the kitten video or the many blog posts by the woman who tried to murder her daughter. It appears her supporters don’t seem interested in facing the facts and are only empathetic to others who agree with the stories. For those of us who see things differently, suddenly the compassionate turn closed minded.

  • Me

    Since I posted a few days ago, I feel there has been a real this or that debate going on. I am not speaking for Kelli here whatsoever. I am not agreeing or condoning what she did, as others have said, the courts will decide. BUT having read many different posts on this issue, I do feel there is a real need for help. I think we can all agree that Kelli was not born a murderer. I am convinced that when she had her baby, she never predicted this as an outcome…Which mother does?. This grew overtime. I agree with Ms Newman in the sense that parents of special needs kids do not feel like they can really open up to strangers/social services etc.. because our feelings towards our kids are so ambiguous that the state will first and foremost take them away. I have two regular or whatever you want to call them kids and a daughter with special needs. I am not American and I have come to notice that this beautiful country is very opinionated. It’s either black or white, no middle ground. (especially where the state is concerned). It’s this righteousness that does not help the parents of disabled children. This shame that they (the parents) are either right or wrong. You put a kitten in the oven, as a stupid (Very Stupid) You Tube jest, you must therefore be guilty of murder! WOW! what a jump! WHAT A JUMP…Have you forgotten about the 15 years before? Did she feel this way the day her daughter was born? Was she always this person, premeditating her daughter’s murder since birth? Is this all Kelli ever amounted to, an awful, blood thirsty, selfish child murderer? This was her given journey…A long journey…with a hard disability to learn and modify her own life with…and she failed. BUT before she failed..She was tested, tested beyond her own personal abilities. I am not speaking for Kelli here as I do not know her full story, BUT I am speaking for those tireless moms and dads who go through this 24/7 with so many opinions thrown at them on a daily basis. Let the courts decide…The full story will come out. I just cannot stand opinions based on you tube videos and blogs….There are 365 days in a year…

  • Eliza

    I have an idea. Let’s make this all about Kelli and miss the entire point.

  • Bridget

    Adrienne, I hear your cry for reform and can identify with many points you have made in the article as a parent of a child with disabilities. Thanks for putting it all out there. Whether you know it or not it does make a difference and even one person who will commit to an act of kindness in a different situation because they have read your article will make a positive difference in our culture towards people with disabilities.

    I think of Kelli and Issy often and circle round and round with thoughts of intervention and prevention for anything that could have avoided that day and the tragic events that unfolded. They were left twisting in the wind and it’s just not good enough. It’s not good enough for me or for you, or for anyone who takes a gamble on having children because it can happen to anyone.

    The psychological issue at hand is having the general pubic accept their own flawed mortality. But until it actually happens to you, you believe you have control over the risk. It’s as if we walk through a looking glass from which we can never return.

  • bs

    eliza, i appreciate your post and i’m hearing you. this is where I’m at though –> the people who are saying yikes what if are considering themselves in her shoes. Her case and her friends’ attempts to portray her as a victim or as a woman who was so overwhelmed is not fair to the other parents who are now saying yikes what if. She and her friends are seeming to pretend to the world that this could happen to anyone. they are trying desperately to minimize exactly who and what this woman is and has done. So, my point is that the people who are freaking about what if they reach this dark place is only b/c they are buying into her martyr routine. And that’s where the problem is. A quick look at the facts that have been released so far and it seems obvious that she was not overwhelmed or lacking any support. to those of us with degrees in psychology and experience in working with victims of child abuse, it is alarming to see so many people buying her stories hook, line, and sinker. What I want to say to all of you who are worrying that you could possibly do such a thing is this –> Please do not let this woman’s actions give you any reason to be fearful. Consider the possibility that she was already an abuser who was abusing her autistic daughter and who was upset when she could no longer get away with it. That’s not you. You are not an abuser. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then obviously you know to reach out for help. For those of you who have experienced anything close to cracking or to imagining your life w/o your child, please know that help is available for you. pick up the phone, go to a blog like this, call your sister, call your friend, call 911. there is help available. This case quite likely has absolutely nothing to do with a mom who was feeling overwhelmed and each and every one of us who is dealing with caring for a special needs child or parent deserves better than to have a case where it’s quite likely the alleged criminal is using what we are going through as her excuse for her actions. I hope you can understand what I’m trying to say, and I hope the insults toward me and the others who do have experience, education, and training to question what truly was happening in this case and the guts to say so can stop and a discussion can begin so that more of you will hopefully begin to stop being fearful of any similarities and you can join those of us who are rallying around children and other victims like the girl in this case who deserve to have a voice, deserve to be safe, and deserve to be heard.

  • Melanie

    For those of you who think Kelli’s friends/family are trying to nullify, Kelli’s actions; we’re in as much disbelief as the rest of you. We’re not condoning what Kelli did, but trying to understand why she did, what she did, and realize in spoken words that the Special Education Depts., need to be reworked, and staffers need to be even more specialized to deal with extreme special
    mental disabilities.
    Many of your comments have really hurt my feelings, against Kelli. Yes, I do believe Kelli is a victim, especially from
    the Special Education Dept., who negatively left her feelings for her child
    on the other side of the door.
    How would you all feel, if you, the parent were totally ignored. How would you feel, if your child had been being successful in school, then she had a set-back, and her behavior went backwords which scared the heck out of school staff?
    Then all of a sudden, she’s not allowed to
    return to the school, that she associated
    well with the other children? I would be
    quite upset myself. But would never do what Kelli did. I would’ve worked it out
    someother way.
    But if the psychitrist on this site would speak up, when a person is under mental stress, it comes out in ppl in other ways,
    they would not normally behave like.
    Instead of trying to murder her child, she
    could’ve been stealing, abuse(which I’ve never heard or seen anything like that with Kelli), gone into heavy sex agendas.
    It comes out in different behaviors for
    different ppl. Other ppl may act out and
    start cleaning their house, cooking alot,
    etc. With Kelli, it came out trying to
    put both of them out of their misery.
    Have you all watched or listened to her blogs, video’s, etc., and really listened
    to them?
    I heard her crying out for help!!! I heard
    a desparate mother, calling for everyone,
    anyone to come release her from her fears,
    and help her daughter.
    I heard her on a audio with several therapists, for her to go get herself some help. I never heard her say “I hit my child, help me?” No I never did, and listened to the whole taping.
    I heard a desparate mother, reaching out
    to whatever she could find to help her daughter. There are laws that are suppose to help these children, but with
    my experience., that most schools with Sp.Ed. Depts., use what tools they have
    to help the less severe children, or themselves. Sorry, this is my point of view also. I’ve not had a good experience with our local dept., which is
    a different one than the one in MI., but
    what Kelli has discribed, it could’ve been
    the very same Sp.Ed. Dept.
    I too applaud you all for trying to protect the child. But when you’re protecting the child, especially like Issy, you also have to protect the stability of the parent(s). When you’re
    the parent of a child like Issy, you’re obviously ready to slip over the edge.
    What I’ve gathered from reading the articles about Kelli’s behavior that day,
    I can’t believe it was premeditated murder. With the education Kelli has, it
    would’ve been a more direct approach,
    and completed. Considering the fact of
    Kelli’s education, she would’ve completed
    the dasterly deed, instead of it being a fowl moment in time. They would’ve both
    been dead or be in a complete vegistative
    I do believe it was a spontaneous decision
    which meant she wasn’t as prepared as she
    would’ve normally been; or she would’ve chosen a different route for murder, which
    would’ve been quick, and totally thought out. I don’t believe Kelli thought they’d
    both survive. Instead she got caught and
    is doing time.
    I do not agree and have never said I agreed with her behavior. I am myself very stunned, and in disbelief of what she’s done.
    As far as the cat video. You all talk big,
    but how many of you, I could walk into your homes, and be surprised with you alls
    behavior, and be shocked? I bet there are
    many of you have questionable behavior. Plus this might have been one of the original signs that Kelli needed help, mentally. None of us know. Can you account for all of your own behavior?
    I pray for Kelli everyday, also Issy, that
    maybe she comes out of her autism. All children with disabilities are special, they all have needs that not all families,
    no matter how rich or poor can always afford or know how to handle.
    What I’ve been reading from all your posts
    you’ve all been pretty lucky to receive all the benefits you’ve been awarded. Some
    of us, because where we live, are not so lucky.
    I beg you to stop believing Kelli is a
    martyr. She needs to looked at as a victim.
    I don’t bring Issy up probably, nearly as
    much as I should, but believe she’s getting all the help she needs. But she still has autism, no matter how we look at it. Perhaps someone will take over, and give her all her needs being met.
    But what about Kelli? She has done what she’s done, and the courts will deal with it, but my aim in all this, instead of spending her time in jail, that she gets
    put in a mental institution(which can also
    be horrid), instead. Either way, she’s condemned, for the rest of her life. I love my Kelli.
    None of you know her, like I’ve gotten to
    know her. She is my cousin, and my heart goes out to her. I’ve been where she’s been with the school, lack of money to send your child to special schools, lack of insurance to help with expenses. In
    many ways, having a child like Issy, cannot be easy to afford, and keep up with a regular family life of finances. It will bleed you dry in no time.


  • Lana

    “BS” what a fitting name! You sure make a lot of assumptions and judgments based on the “facts” as you see them in your own mind. Where are you sourcing all of these “facts” you speak of? From her blog and everything else you googled about her? I have read many of the same items and can not comprehend how you are actively spinning such an elaborate soap opera of what you see to be “truths”.

    You claim child abuse yet the only basis of your accusation is a youtube video. Why do you assume that she was an abusive parent when there are no real facts supporting your claim? You also insist that she had “TONS of help”. Have you personally witnessed all of this help throughout all the 13 years of Issy’s life? It’s true that she has had support in funding since early this year. That is due to the awareness campaign she launched to get funding to help her daughter. Throughout her blog it is evident that she is an advocate for her daughter. She clearly loves her! Yet you have concocted a whole backstory of how you believe this family is run. You have no clue as to what really went on so why do you assume you know all. News flash you aren’t God! Get off your soapbox and find a good cause to channel your passion.

    What you are missing is that mental illness can come about in many forms. Issy was born with it. Kelli developed it over the many long years of no relief, abuse and mental anguish. When you want so desperately for life to be the best it can be for the people that you love most and are constantly faced with brick walls it can become maddening to even the most sane. You talk about her many solo trips and her being a stay at home mom in a bad light. Do you realize that blogging, going to events, etc… was part of her job? That’s what raising awareness means. You get your story out there so you can get help and help others. It doesn’t mean you are fame hungry or desperate for attention. Just as her hard working husband was busting his ass to provide for them she was also working hard to get help.

    While you were scanning her blog for “facts” to use in your hate crusade did you catch this post?

    “I fell apart.

    I crossed the line.

    It’s the last straw.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    I’m tired of her autism robbing her of a life. I’m tired of it taking all of our resources (time, money, energy, everything). I’m tired of dying slowly with each traumatic brain injury. But mainly, I’m so DAMN MAD at watching my husband, a good man, work hard and never get ahead. He can’t keep his family safe, and he can’t fix his broken daughter. He deserves to come home and hug his family, pay the bills, kick the dog (that’s a joke) and do what good men do.

    Our other children deserve all the time they haven’t been able to get from their parents. All of the attention they deserve. All the help with their homework they can use. They are AMAZING. They deserve to have a childhood.

    That poor woman who called. She had no idea when she called me to give me the “not so good” news that I was dancing so close to the edge.”

    This statement alone lets you into her mindset to see why she did what she did. She was wanting relief. She wanted her daughter release from anguish. She wanted her husband and other children to be able to live a better life. I DO NOT agreed with the actions she took but if you have any empathy at all it’s not hard to see how you can come to the place she came to. Not all people are the same. Everyone battles their own types of demons. Nobody is even close to perfect. Just because you would do things differently does not make you the almighty to cast judgment on others.

    On a side note I’m sure you are also “tigerfanatic” that is spewing the same nonsense on the Mlive articles. I have never met Kelli before nor do I have a child with mental illness but I have compassion enough in my heart to see beyond your wall of hate. It is not my intention to defend this women or to condone her actions. It has come off like such only because I cannot take any more of the redundant “BS”. I’m just trying to show another side to the issue as the author of this post was doing. Humans can be pushed to the brink of a lot of things when they become desperate and can not see the light at the end of the tunnel. That is a fact. Some people are strong enough to over come and some are not. This story is and others like it are tragic. The blessing lay in the Issy’s is doing well. And that there is now a vocal platform in which to help others suffering the same types of anguish. I pray relief. I pray hope and blessings to all individuals suffering.

    • bs

      Lana, don’t you see? the words she was posting on her blog (while being soooooooo overwhelmed, yep, that’s really tough to sit at her keyboard all day) her words do sound like she’s just trying to build up her story. one poster said that kelli said her blog would be used for ‘evidence’ but get this, she said the word ‘evidence’ long before the day she tried to kill her daughter. and Lana, my cause is to speak up and advocate for survivors of abuse –> so it makes sense that while you seem to be defending her actions that i’m vocal beyond what you want to hear about the rights of the daughter first. This daughter had no way to effectively communicate how she was being treated. I’ve received an email from a former ‘friend’ who has seen the gnarly side of kelli, which was no surprise. I’ve heard that her kids went to school in the same clothes for an entire week, that the house was always upside down, that she was known for being very foul mouthed and aggressive toward people who she couldn’t con. while you may think she’s a darling, i’m hearing that there a many others who have thought she was a nutjob for years. then i listened to her strange radio interview when she called in to broadcast that her daughter was the problem, and the professionals, over five years ago, mind you, said no, you have the problem, to which she blew them off and kept sounding like a squeaky brat. then take a look at her blog, loving mother? I don’t think so. then take a look at the kitten video, downright sick. then consider where the tens of thousands of dollars went when medicaid and insurance covered everything. all of the compassion for the mother, in my opinion, is like the neighbor of an abuser who kills his wife one day, the reporters always catch the neighbors saying “wow, he seemed like such a nice guy!” Abuse takes many forms, and one form that the medical community needs to keep a special and sharp eye out for is called munchausen by proxy which, in my opinion, is exactly what has occurred in this case.

    • bs

      Lana, don’t you see? the words she was posting on her blog (while being soooooooo overwhelmed, yep, that’s really tough to sit at her keyboard all day) her words do sound like she’s just trying to build up her story. one poster said that kelli said her blog would be used for ‘evidence’ but get this, she said the word ‘evidence’ long before the day she tried to kill her daughter. and Lana, my cause is to speak up and advocate for survivors of abuse –> so it makes sense that while you seem to be defending her actions that i’m vocal beyond what you want to hear about the rights of the daughter first. This daughter had no way to effectively communicate how she was being treated. I’ve received an email from a former ‘friend’ who has seen the gnarly side of kelli, which was no surprise. I’ve heard that her kids went to school in the same clothes for an entire week, that the house was always upside down, that she was known for being very foul mouthed and aggressive toward people who she couldn’t con. while you may think she’s a darling, i’m hearing that there a many others who have thought she was a nutjob for years. then i listened to her strange radio interview when she called in to broadcast that her daughter was the problem, and the professionals, over five years ago, mind you, said no, you have the problem, to which she blew them off and kept sounding like a squeaky brat. then take a look at her blog, loving mother? I don’t think so. then take a look at the kitten video, downright sick. then consider where the tens of thousands of dollars went when medicaid and insurance covered everything. all of the compassion for the mother, in my opinion, is like the neighbor of an abuser who kills his wife one day, the reporters always catch the neighbors saying “wow, he seemed like such a nice guy!”

  • Jennifer

    You have stated what should be obvious very well. BS apparently would like us to believe they have a degree in psychology, but those of us with real degrees in psychology tend to be pretty skeptical about that claim. If it’s true, I would love to know where it is from. They obviously have nothing better to do than spew hate (and try and sway public opinion with their poorly conceived posts). I appreciate your willingness to see that there is more than one side to this story. I don’t really know Kelli either, but I do know when actions speak louder than words. This woman needed help she didn’t get, for whatever reason.

    • bs

      jennifer, i think she needed help many years ago when the psychologists told her she was the problem and needed to get help for herself and she blew them off. she was a narcissist, seeking attention, and sadly it appears she was using her daughter with autism to keep getting the attention she seems to crave. btw, it isn’t hate spewing to see that when a person tries to kill her child she should be held accountable for her actions, and any true friend of hers who wishes to stand by her side isn’t doing her any favors to keep buying into what seems to be a scam. have any of you who have given money even though the costs were actually covered by tax dollars and insurance companies, have any of you asked for a full accounting of where that money went? I’ve heard it was over forty thousand dollars. if that’s true then they need to account for it and perhaps donate an equal amount to autism research. it is just plain wrong, and some may argue that it’s purely criminal, for a family to take over forty thousand dollars in donations under false pretenses, meaning to pay bills which are being paid for by tax dollars. So, for any of you who are close to the family, maybe you could suggest to them that they disclose expenditures of the donated money, or pay it back.

      • Jennifer

        No one is saying that she should not be held accountable for her actions, so give up that rant. I can only speak for myself here, but my stance is that life is complex and all sides of any tragedy should be explored before a verdict is rendered. I think that is all anyone is saying, really. It is irrseponsible for anyone to rely on a cursory assessment of the circumstances. Again, please consider that you have reached your conclusions without a thorough understanding of the entire picture. How do you know the family’s financial circumstance? How do you know that the money raised didn’t pay for existing debt that they had already incurred? How is it that you are so sure about anything? You claim to have a psychology degree, yet you have broken the cardinal rule of not diagnosing without proper evaluation. (Not to mention your misuse of terminology, do you own a DSM?) And if you have, yourself, conducted said evaluations, you are breaking the law by discussing them publicly.

        This is not the place to petition for anyone to “convict her of attempted murder” as we are neither judge, nor jury. If you are selected as a juror you may plead your case to your fellow members, but we are not them. This is a place to share stories and for people to possibly connect with others who are feeling lost or are in need of help. Your comments make that very difficult.

        • bs

          jennifer, i haven’t diagnosed anyone. I’ve raised questions that if someone is truly a friend or supporter of this woman then it would be smart to explore the answers to the questions. Have you read about munchausen by proxy? do you see any similarities? also, to say one has a degree in response to snotty messages inferring stupidity is far different than how you attempt to portray my statements. it’s my opinion, as a mom, as a survivor advocate, as a woman with a degree in psychology, that the people who are slamming any of us who are vocal that we believe this woman should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law would do well to recognize the very strong possibility that they have been conned by this woman’s act of martyr. The thought of people saying over and over again that others should be ‘compassionate’ toward her when it appears to many of us that she has been planning what she pulled for a very long time, seems inconsistent with reality. if there is any call for compassion it should be for the daughter and any fundraising should be spent to help keep children with autism safe from dangerous people, even if those people happen to be their own parents.

  • Ann Flemming

    How is Issy doing with her Father and her family now? Would be curious to know.

    Many prayers for the family – and for Kelli.

  • Me

    Lana…You’re my kind of mind, my stomach cannot quite digest the people who use their “qualifications” as a qualification. Crazy that someone thinks that a psychology degree/master or even doctorate gives them an above insight into Kelli’s world. Ha, psychology from the get go was riddled with flaws and still is…I have a hard time with intellects, people with “degrees” who seem to know more than EVERYBODY else. I have a degree too, yes me! As well as a boat load of life experiences which most of our “qualified” intellects do not. Read your books but I will not listen to a word you have to say until you live your stupid book.

    Psychology if used wrongly and naively is the biggest emotional and finial wrong of all. Should a psychologist not be open and willing to understand the mind of someone, regardless of their personal opinions? All minds are different for very different reasons. Did you know that the main contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary…A gigantic feat in itself was provided by someone deemed mentally unfit, incarcerated in the most prominent prison at that time? Cannot stand this ego. This is why we rarely come for your support, seeing as most are “qualified” idiots. Be open….that is all that is required of you. Bottom line, this is your only qualification. No-one will ever approach you in an honest way with your set views…Understand. I could tell you I enjoy fucking elks…I might have a problem, but if you make me feel I have a problem with my “elk” fixation…I will run away, so you are NOT doing your job correctly. You get my drift. Stop being such a snob.

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