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By November 5, 2008 21 Comments Read More →

Captive Audience for a Murderer

When my father was released from prison in 1987 I had no idea what he was about to do. Not even close. I wanted to believe that he might be successful again, but deep down I knew the truth. My father had never really been successful, it was all a lie. He had always been a conman. But the truth can be a tricky thing in certain circumstances and my denial of that simple fact was about to lead me into 17 months as a witness to my father’s killing spree that would leave four people dead.

For years I had been riddled with guilt, shame, physical illnesses and repressed memories as a result of what I witnessed and learned during those 17 months. Funny thing about it today is I’m still not sure if I had a choice. Well, actually I did. The choice was to go along for the ride or possibly be one of his victims. I chose to be his captive audience and what I witnessed is the face of evil. That evil is my father, a cold blooded, calculating killer. No remorse. No guilt. No love. These were the characteristics and acts of a sociopath.

He enjoyed telling me about it. I think the thrill he got from telling me was greater than the fear that I might actually be different than him. You see, I had never done anything that might indicate to my father that I thought criminal behavior was okay, but I never denounced it either. Maybe he didn’t know because I always kept my mouth shut. Even when I was young and he would tell me about something that sounded illegal, I would just smile and nod. Inside (growing up) I always felt “less than” or inferior because I couldn’t stomach what my father could do. This was a problem as a kid because I wanted to be just like him. I mean I idolized him, like most boys do their Dads. Problem was, I didn’t think I was “man enough” to be like him and it made me sick. So the best I could do was smile and act impressed when he would do something I couldn’t “stomach”. I was sure I was a failure, but didn’t want him to know it.

After serving 3 ½ years for white collar crime (land fraud) my Dad was released. This is where his activities overwhelmed me and painted me into a corner. I became a hostage. This is not an excuse for not stopping him, it is how I felt. He played it perfectly with me. Always giving me enough information that I became his confidant, but never enough that I could have stopped him. Maybe he was having a little problem with the truth as well, and didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I wasn’t a willing participant in these conversations. Maybe that’s why he never gave me the crime scene or enough detail to put it all together. He was right you know. Because the first time I saw my father described on TV in connection with a murder I called crime line tips. Problem with this”¦it didn’t work. They didn’t pick him up and I was still stuck with him. I gave the cops his name and they didn’t even question him.

My younger brother was still living with him and I didn’t want to appear suspicious so I continued to be around him. Only now, I had the constant fear of that phone call I made. Could he tell when he was around me? The police had come to my house the night I called”¦could he find out?

I’ll tell you the biggest problem with all this, looking back. I never consciously thought that my father might kill me if he found out. That is not a “rational” or natural thought. We are not programmed to be able to make a connection like that. But subconsciously, I knew because my behavior was all about survival. It would be 20 years before it really sunk in that he would kill me in a heartbeat. He liked me and was proud of me. I was one of his prized possessions. But that’s all I was, a possession. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. A sociopath cannot love.

These stories are about what I witnessed and how I felt. It’s about how I managed what appeared to be a normal life to others and the people that saved me from a horrible fate. You see, the bottom line is this:

I am blessed with a family and friends beyond my wildest dreams. All because I began to tell the truth. I am free today and would not change a thing in my life. So with that in mind, I share my experience with the hope that others might benefit from these stories and realize that they are not alone. There is hope and a pathway to freedom.

Posted in: Cases, Travis Vining

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21 Comments on "Captive Audience for a Murderer"

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Thankyou for your prayers and good advice my beautiful Lily

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