By | May 30, 2012 27 Comments

Hero-turned-murderer story to air on Dateline Friday

In 2001, Tracey Richter, of Early, Iowa, was lauded as a hero for defending her three children against two home invaders by killing one of them. Ten years later, a jury determined that the shooting was murder, part of an elaborate plot to frame Richter’s ex-husband while they were in a custody battle over their son.

Richter’s husband at the time of the incident was Michael Roberts, a Lovefraud reader. He was away when the shooting occurred and was not implicated. But the two divorced, which led to another custody battle over their two children.

Here’s background on the case:

Hero claim rejected, Iowa mom guilty of murder, on

Watch the full episode on MSNBC.

Here’s a preview of the Dateline episode:

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Wow. The things people will come up with to get custody of a child and then still consider themselves to be good people decent enough to parent. Unbelievable.

I clicked on a link at the bottom of that article about a 4-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by his 14-year-old cousin.

The author of that piece said criminals have families and need love, too. ZOWIE! That is exactly what my P said said about all the ex-cons her daughter dated. (She eventually married yet another ex-con.)

I guess the author of that piece felt the 14-year-old deserves sympathy because she was found wondering down the street covered in blood.

Sorry, I do not feel that murderers or people who plot to kill or destroy others to obtain custody of a child deserve any compassion. That’s very close to being at the bottom of the barrel, IMHO.

Of course, this hits very close to what I went through with my son and P sister.


G1S, whenever children are used/abused as a source of manipulations or entertainment (regardless of WHAT that might be), it is beyond heinous.

What a deplorable story. And, I am almost ashamed to type this, but nothing surprises me, anymore, when it comes to human beings and their greed for money, control, power, etc…..ugh.

Ox Drover

I watched this last night and fell asleep during the last 10-15 minutes of it, but saw enough to realize this woman was a CLASSIC and very successful psychopath who smeared others and pretended to be the victim when she was in fact, the perp.

I am glad that she finally got her just comeupance and that the boy she killed was vindicated.

I am glad that the boy’s family got some justice for their son. I can only imagine the pain that boy’s family went through, and his father killing himself because of it. There is nothing on earth that can be done to that psychopathic woman that is enough “justice” for what she did.

So many times we see here where the psychopath appears to be the victim……and it makes me wonder sometiimes when you see someone who presents as a “victim” if they are real or if they are actually the psychopath presenting as a victim.

I am sure that Liane Leedom’s x husband presents as a victim to those he talks to, and James Montomery, Donna’s X presents as the victim when in fact these two men are 100% psychopathic abusers. It behooves us to be careful when we are encountering these people in real life to vet their stories….because I have personally had several people present themselves to me as victims when in fact they were psychopaths.

On the blog where people cannot actually reach out and “touch” us we must assume someone is a victim if they say so until they prove otherwise, but in real life, I think we must be CAREFUL even with those who present as victims.

I think this woman is a perfect example of this type of psychopath and their presentation as “victims.”

CAUTION with anyone we meet in real life…find out the truth. Don’t give away TRUST until people earn it.


HI all,

I agree, we do need to be careful. It is just such a shame that we have to be so suspicious. Sometimes I feel as if I am just “seeing” sociopaths everywhere am I judging them all wrongly? It gets to the stage where you think everyone is one!!


Hi missymooz,

You post has helped me see something clearer. I used to feel the same way, ‘seeing them everywhere’, and wondering if everyone I meet is one. But I don’t any longer.

I think we all spent far far too long in the stage where we didn’t see or recognize abusive personalities anywhere, so I’m sure it’s only natural to spend some time on the other end of the pendulum until we learn the skills we should have learned earlier and start to get our bearings.

As I said, I used to feel the same as you (I think pretty much everyone here either feels that or used to feel that). But once I actually *allowed* myself to spend some time feeling that way (suspicious of everyone) I found my detection skills became so much better, and I no longer feel that way now. Allowing myself to be suspicious helped me to pay enough attention to build some skills, at which point I started to relax. Now I’ve started to be able to recognize the difference between when people are just acting out stuff in their lives but they’re trying to work on it(in which case I don’t need to RUN away, just step away and keep myself out of the drama), vs. when people are potentially dangerous. For the latter, I’ve learned so many skills to use. Like grey rock for instance (thank you Skylar!).

And, come to think of it, I don’t think it was so much that I trusted everyone before the final ‘wake-the-f***-up’ abuse that opened my eyes (and brought me to LF), and learned to mistrust everyone after that. I think it was more that I’d never really trusted people in general all along (strangers, not family – I knew who they were, both good and bad), but I really wanted to believe in a world where everyone is mostly good. Plus, if I allowed myself to acknowledge that not everyone was trustworthy I didn’t have any skills to use anyway, so what was the point? (And I had been trained that I wasn’t entitled to protect myself). So I think I walked around ‘acting’ like everyone was trustworthy, not because I believed it, but because it was the socially acceptable thing to do, and I didn’t know what else to do.

Now that I recognize the red flags, know what to do when I see them, and know how to protect my boundaries, I find myself feeling more confident about actually getting closer to people, in a healthy way. And I like ‘people in general’ better now. But it took me being really suspicious for a while to get there!


I’m sorry that you’ve had to come here, and for all the losses everyone connected with your ex-wife has experienced. But thank you for sharing your story.

I am starting to see something positive come about lately: I think that society in general is *starting* (just starting, but at least it’s positive direction) to recognize female predators. Too late for you, your family, and your wife’s other victims, unfortunately, and for that you have my sympathy. But I have no doubt that your story will help others who come after you.

I recently put together an article on victim selection and predator detection, but could find *nothing* about female cons/criminals/abusers. Unfortunately ALL of it that I could find is written about male predators; there is virtually nothing out there (at least not that I could find) written specifically about how females select and ensnare victims, except in the sole area of female serial killers (specifically angels of death), nor what signs/signals female abusers give out to help warn potential victims.

I know that female serial killers – who according to criminal profiler Candice Skrapec often kill for far longer and in greater numbers because of low detection rates – pick different ‘targets’ and strategies than men: disadvantaged victims such as the very young or very old, the ill, or the disabled, and they are far more likely to use ‘hands-off’ methods such as poison, or to hire or manipulate another person into committing the actual crime. If I remember her articles correctly, she states that they tend to pick victims who: a) can’t defend themselves b) can’t properly express that they’ve been victimized c) aren’t in positions to be believed because their circumstances could conceivably affect their judgement &/or believability, d) are in circumstances where illness/death isn’t unexpected, such as hospitalized patients (particularly infants on neonatal wards) or seniors in nursing homes, and sometimes e) won’t necessarily be missed because they are considered to be burdens.

For situations such as yours I could find absolutely NOTHING that would help potential victims recognize the signs of people like your ex-wife. I find that so frustrating.

I’m hoping more awareness of stories like yours will help to start to rectify that.


I don’t believe that everyone I meet or know is a sociopath. Having said that, I no longer trust ANYone until such time as they have earned my trust. I’ve posted this, many times, but there was a time when I would give my trust freely to everyone until they did something to break that trust. Now, I trust no one, I don’t know which mind-set is better or worse.

kim frederick

I don’t think everybody is a psychopath, but I am far more able to discern toxicity in people…even if something about them only seems to bother me, personally. I know that I am hyper aware of men (in particular) who are trying to pull a power play on me, especially if they are attempting to make me feel shame, or responsibility for something that is not my responsibility. If I feel this, (ick) I immediately go gray rock and give them nothing. I won’t feed the vampires anymore.
This is one of my most acutely felt red flags, and it doesn’t matter to me if it means the guy’s a spath, or a normal guy with an excessive desire to control…for me: TOXIC.

Ox Drover

Truth’s comment about TRUST is very appropriate…giving trust to others that you don’t really know is dangerous…people should EARN trust not be given it freely.


Kim and Ox, you both make a very valid point.
Unfortunately, as a society (at least all the people I know or have known) are taught to trust until trust is broken. That may have been ok a century ago, but not in you’ve world. That mentality needs shifting.
Just my two cents.

Ox Drover

Dad, there are a lot of myths out there that our children are taught.

“It takes two to fight”

“There are two (valid) sides to every story”

“There is good in everyone”

That is only a start of the MYTHS that our children are taught, but it is enough to get them into trouble in life.

The truth is there are bullies, there are liars, there are people in which no good can be found.

Recognizing these people for what they are and defending yourself from them is not easy.


” I know that I am hyper aware of men (in particular) who are trying to pull a power play on me, especially if they are attempting to make me feel shame, or responsibility for something that is not my responsibility. If I feel this, (ick) I immediately go gray rock and give them nothing. I won’t feed the vampires anymore.”

Hello Kim, gosh. Making me feel responsible for something that is not my responsibility. How true is that in my life with the ex. Thank you …..another profound statement I will be saving for later.

I’m currently thinking and mulling over my tendency to take responsibility for things that, on reflection, were not mine. Nobody ever said yo strongawoman …. This is your job. Well not in my childhood anyway. But I have clear memories of being the carer. The big sister that looked after my little sis. Things my mum should have done but she wasnt there to do. Run ragged with four unruly children and a job as a nurse. My earliest memory of taking care of others…..7. I don’t blame my mum. She did the best she could under the circumstances. I just want to understand why I was such an easy target for what came later. Ive tried loving my inner child and moving on. Drawing a line under what happened. I mean I wasn’t abused but something went wrong didn’t it.

I’m rambling on. Just wanted to say thanks for the light bulb moment of your words


Don’t feel bad strongwoman, we are ALL vulnerable because we all have a weaknesses they can target. Sometimes our weaknesses just happen to be our strength too.

We could almost say that the definition of a spath is someone who makes others responsible and never takes any responsibility for himself. He wants all the power and none of the responsibility.

So when he sees a very responsible person, he knows exactly how to target them. We always want to be fair, do the right thing, help others. He knows that and uses it against you.

Here’s the paradox though (this is very important to understand): The reason he targets those qualities is because he wants to take them away from you.

He is trying to teach you a lesson and make you afraid to be trusting and kind, to be responsible, fair and help others. In other words, he wants you to be MORE LIKE HIM.

So we must refuse to become like them. It’s doubly hard now to be kind and trusting of others. But we can learn to trust OURSELVES and our intuition. We need to have better boundaries and learn the red flags. Spaths really ARE all the same and they have the same tricks. So we can learn to recognize them.

The best example I can think of is the preacher whom my spath conned with the pity ploy. He obviously took responsibility that was not his when he tried to help the spath by filling out his log book illegally. Spaths always ask us to make an exception for them. They’re SPECIAL.


Wow… It just keeps boggling my mind how similar they all are.

That being said, with so many of them out there, and how alike they are, one would think they would stick out like a sore thumb.
Just goes to show how conning they are in their mind games.


Skylar, “special,” indeed! The first exspath would carry on about how much he would “hate a liar,” and then (in the same conversation) demand that I go along with his schemes to generate money illegally.

Trauma bond, Stockholm Syndrome, cognitive dissonance…..put any label on it that fits, but even to his dying day, he NEVER did anything to stand accountable for the things that he did. In his twisted mind, he was incapable of wrongdoing and everyone else had simply gotten what they deserved. For me to move from being a victim and evolvong into a into a survivor, it was a moral imperative for me to take my own inventory and acknowledge things that I had done through coersion, threats, and/or by default.

Dyingdad, you’ll begin to develop an eye for the spath patterns as you continue to read and post – while each individual story has its own unique set of circumstances, they all pretty much follow a set pattern of behaviors and actions: lovebombing, generating pity, drama/trauma, isolation/divide & conquer, gaslighting, then the attempted assasination of their victims’ souls.

Brightest blessings on one more day further from the carnage!



“he is trying to teach you a lesson…….he wants you to be more like him!”

Within six months of meeting him I was on the verge of a breakdown. I’d left my kids to go and live with him…..given into him, and given him nearly everything. What an emotional, financial, physical. ( lost 3stone in short time) mess I was. I very nearly lost the plot.

His response to all this mayhem……you need to be taught a lesson.

He has also admitted / blurted out he wants what I have.
Meaning my 2 daughters. He abandoned his children and lost contact. He especially wanted a daughter.

Thank you. Your post sent chills down my spine. To read that confirms my view and one I never wanted to believe.


Strongawoman, I completely identify with feeling responsible for the ills of the world! In counseling, I learned about “shame core” and how it was programmed into my personality as a child. What a liberating nugget THAT was!

Today, I still struggle with shame core, but I have some understanding of myself and how I made such an easy and attractive target. No, I didn’s “deserve” my sociopathic experiences, but I sure didn’t know enough about myself to maintain strong, permanent boundaries.



Met my ex on…..I know, sheesh! His status declared he hated liars.

Now I see why.

He was always accusing me of having affairs, cheating on him with colleagues at work. Or being with him until something better came along.

Took me such a long time to realise it was pure projection.

And nothing was ever his fault. He’d just been unlucky. Bla bla bla…….now he’s feeding this bs to someone else. Another attempted assassination of another victims soul, to paraphrase your thoughts.

Btway, once I escaped from him…..and i was like a prisoner, I did go back a few times. Never to live with him but ……head shaking here….I loved him and I believed him when he said it would be better this time etc. It was never the same. He never was quite able to exert the same control he had over me in the early days. He would say ..” I don’t like this strongawoman, I want the old one back. ”




The shame core. Sounds interesting. Thanks am off to google.


Oh my…..


Strongawoman, I had never heard tell of “shame core” until I began this recent round of counseling therapy. Honest to goodness, I had been to a couple of counselors prior to this most recent one, and not ONE of them discussed this, or ever brought it up. My counselor was so intuitive with me – she asked questions about my childhood, from the gate. And, it wasn’t accusatory questions, either – it was with regard to the family dynamics and she was very skillful in her ability to draw out facts (not feelings).

All of this information was laying a foundation for understanding – how I came to believe that I was less-than-worthy of a healthy emotional and physical life, and why I continued to maintain those beliefs. Well, it was an eye-opener, I can tell you. The book that she suggested was (and I ALWAYS misquote the title!), “Healing the Shame that Binds Us,” by some guy that I can’t remember. I may be wrong about this, but this book and the author probably started the “inner child” movement in psychotherapy. If I’m wrong about this, so be it, but it is quite an old publication that coincides with all of the talk about “inner child,” a good while back.

What this book and counseling therapy taught me was that the “inner child” was not – WAS NOT – that youthful, innocent, joyous, and wonderous part of me. The “inner child” was where my emotional perceptions were arrested and confined with regard to self-perception, self-confidence, and a whole lot of other “self-shit.” My “inner child” was that damaged, frightened, needy, abused, abandoned, hungry, and discarded part of my psyche that accepted blame, shame, and responsibility for all of the World’s ills.

An example of how this “inner child” was damaged is an actual event at around 7-8: father comes home from work and finds mother passed-out from drinking, again. He says to me, “How could you let her drink like that, again?” Okay….keeping this in perspective, he was venting his frustration and disappointment in the only way that he knew how to. HOWEVER, as a child who has no voice, no control, no power, no authority, no bargaining abilities, etc., that “responsibility” for keeping my mother sober was unintentionally placed squarely upon my shoulders, and any negative consequences that resulted in her getting drunk were, by default, my responsibility. Shortly after this exchange, I would dash around the house in an effort to find her booze stashes and promptly pour them out. Of course, I had no understanding that she would simply go out and purchase more, but it was the only thing that I knew that I could accomplish. The booze made her drunk. Get rid of the booze, and she can’t get drunk. Problem solved, and I did my part to prevent her from drinking.

So it goes…..there are many, many, many examples of how my shame core was programmed and developed. But, that’s the best one that I can think of that makes sense.

NOW, having typed all of the words above, the relationship between shame core and appearing to be a perfect target for a sociopath is obvious. No matter what the spath sees, it’s a tool that they can use to their benefit. Perhaps, we’re in our middle age and always wanted children, or we grew up in a welfare assisted environment, or we grew up in a clearly dysfunctional/addictive environment – whatever our issues are, they become powerful tools for predatory people, whether they’re friends, lovers, partners, parents, etc……THAT, for me, was the starting point for my healing process. Knowing that I had always and clearly been a perfect target was a personal, and epic epiphany. Once I learned this, accepted it as True, and processed what this priceless information truly meant, I was able to begin the painful and tedious process of healing and building my personal boundaries. Oy-VEY, what a long response! LOL

Best and brightest blessings

they are all the same. If you want a template for recognizing one, just read about Lucifer. There are many stories about him and all are TRUE (in spirit).

The bible has several: Genesis, Job, Jesus’ temptation in the desert. They all paint a picture of an envious, slick, slimey dickwad.

There are stories in other scriptures, not sure where, about his rebellion against God. The key is not in the overall story. Believe it or not the DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS! Yep.

When I read those stories, I am shocked to see the exact same DETAILS as stories my spath told me about himself. He is illiterate so he isn’t aware of it.

My spath tempted a man in much the same way that Jesus was tempted in the desert. He sabotaged people the way Job was sabotaged etc….

The ancients were writing to warn us.

((hugs)) we have the same inner child!


Skylar, “dickwad.” (guffaw, snort) Indeed!

I actually gave a name to my inner child. When I was in the throes of the emotional rampages, I would “meditate,” I guess, and visualize myself as that child and approach the child-self with words of worth and encouragement.
And, this exercise was cathartic and very, very healing.


Hi Truthspeak and skylar and thank you so much for your thoughts. I had a bit of a meltdown about ten years ago, some years before I met the spath. I read some stuff then about the inner child and how I had to learn to love her and keep her in my heart.
Perhaps it’s time to get some counselling. I seem to go round in circles…..all my relationships with men have been shiat. I choose the wrong men …..and they choose me. I will look and see if I can get that book on amazon.



Strongawoman, had I not found the counselor that I did WHEN I did, I don’t even want to imagine where I would be, today. Like I posted before, I had already been to several counselors for various reasons and I never felt as if they had done much more than hearmy words, nod their heads, and ask, “So, how do you think you can change this?”

Yepper, that inner child is reeeeeaaaalllly damaged and I am finally glad to be able to recognize her.




My inner child sends your inner child a massive hug back.


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