There is no discernment of right or wrong…When you discover your father to be a murder.
There is no discernment of right or wrong…When you come to the realisation…your mother wittingly placed you in harm’s way.
Year upon year, decade atop of decade…Arguments, fist fights, fetal positions, suicide attempts, closed doors, lack of intimacy, hurt beyond anything a blood-letting can condone.
Was it all necessary? Where were the professional adults that could have changed our lives? Did my parents and their lack of mental health…slip through the cracks?
Oddly enough, for my own needs. For the basic urge to see others grow. I have been a staunch advocate for mental health reform.
I cannot divulge much of my mother’s previous marriage. Other than it had been abusive. Other than it placed my brother and sister in harm’s way…before, my father came into the picture.
Somewhere between January 4th, 1963: After my father had been placed into the care of New Hampshire State Hospital. On to the ward for the criminally insane. After Elizabeth Laughlin’s family seemed to give up on further prosecution.
After I discovered the following…
Wilfred (Jack) Sanders, assistant district attorney for Rockingham County, New Hampshire…had been still practicing law in the new century.
All others related to the case, in legal terms, had died.
Would Mr. Sanders offer anything of importance?
Would Mr. Sander’s expunge my father?
Would there be reason enough to fathom a person stabbing someone…35 times?
These had been questions for another time. Another day.
Currently, I needed to feel love.
My wife consoled me. Petting me with compliments. Compliments such as, you aren’t your father. You’re not violent! All you’ve ever done for me…is care!
In my paranoid mind?
Could I believe this?
Was I as insane as him? Was I capable of killing someone? Am I so fucked up that I don’t even know that…I am indeed crazy!
I walked through the day following my discovery of a horrible past with cement blocks on my feet. Trudging through all the misdeeds I performed in relationships. Digging out the props that kept my door to intimacy closed. Hiding behind drugs, booze, sex…
Could I have been different…Had I known?
For that matter, on dark, dreary, days, I still hold true to the impeachment of my persona. Could my discovery and the lies that fill the pool of a child’s history, changed me? Made me nicer? Made me more aware?
In the end, was anything I found in the blood lines, worth it?
The only true diagnosis is psychosis coupled for narcissism and obsessive compulsive disorder…At least, that is what the court records show.
But in some respects…had this not been my own description…to a lesser degree?
As early as, 1965, two years after a horrific crime, my father had petitioned the court for the following…
On June 23, 1965, the acting superintendent of the New Hampshire, Dr. G. Donald Niswander, requested this court’s permission for said, Harold Bowley, to be allowed off hospital ground visits and one overnight visit on weekends.
What the fuck?
My father, in cold, warm blood killed his wife, left his daughter to watch…not two years earlier…And, now, as is typically the case, Harold (and conned his doctors) into believing that he was a much improved man.
The more I read the court transcripts. The further into disgust…I fell. This man who in later reports, became a model patient. This man who had an arrest record before the actual murder. This man who kept his family captive. Captive years after his release from the State Hospital.
This man had worked his usual magic. This to me, his borderline narcissistic daughter, had been the beginning point, of my father’s ability to put rose-colored glasses on abuse.
Harold Bowley, if nothing else, had been a calculating, intelligent and personable man…That is when he needed to be.
The court in 1965 denied his attempt to partial release.
Yet, in 1965, had he found his way out of the dungeon of New Hampshire State Hospital. Perhaps, he would not have met my mother.
My mother who had a nervous breakdown. My mother having pledged her children(my siblings) to an orphanage…My mother who had studied to become a nun. My mother who never seemed truly happy.
My mother, Janice Bowley, became a patient of New Hampshire State Hospital. In or around the year, 1965.
Currently, 2017, my family of origin, is torn asunder.
But at the time of discovery, 2012, there had been some assemblage of a bond.
The next few mornings in February of 2012. I lay semi curled in. Appalled. Dismayed. Harboring inner hatred.
I did not immediately call, Jack Sanders. I was not prepared for what little information…he may disclose.
My wife knew. She was aware. She didn’t pack her shit. She stayed. I know, to Megan, I may not have been what she asked for. Yet, to this day, I seem to be what she needs.
And, though I spoke to both my brother, Bud. And, my sister, Sybil. I never felt comfortable giving them inside information. Inside information about myself or my thoughts.
Lilith, my sister-in-law, would be the only choice. The only person other than my mother and father, who may have further information.
I’m going to try to not make this long but it probably will be quite a few pages..
Not long ago, I received something from Ancestry.com. A free membership for a month or something like that. My family is so full of secrets…I suppose all are. Long story short, Lee had told me many years ago that my father had been married before and had a child with that woman. Of course, my father has never mentioned any of this to me. And, my mother, only partially tells me stuff!
I decided what the hell? I’m going to see where my other half-sister is and take advantage of this Ancestry thing.
It took some snooping but I found her. I also found out many things I wish, on occasion, that I didn’t. Sybil, and this is only from my memory which isn’t great around my drinking years, told me that Dad had a wife who fooled around on him often. I believe she told me that my Father’s first wife, the child and the boyfriend were in a car accident. The boyfriend and wife died and the child got shipped off somewhere.
I have recently discovered otherwise. And, from what I know of my father’s side of our family; where he lived before I had been born, what he did for a living, his religious affiliation (which was Baptist), all correspond with the new’s clippings I found.
I had hoped to God that what I had read wasn’t true. So my only other confidant in this, Megan, set me straight with “there is too much evidence to the contrary, Ruth, it’s your Dad.”
My father back in 1962 killed his first wife. Stabbed her 35 times! Went to a nearby river and stabbed himself in the chest and abdomen with the same kitchen knife he used on his wife. He did not resist arrest and was brought to Exeter Hospital. His self-inflicted wounds were bad enough that he needed surgery. He pleaded not guilty to the crime of which he was obviously guilty. Some shrink somewhere deemed him insane at the time of the event. My father did no prison time for the killing. He spent, from what I could figure out, 2+ years at Concord State Hospital and was released. This all corresponds with my mother having had a nervous breakdown and meeting him at the hospital. Of course, I am the end result of that whole thing.
I do not know where his first daughter is. Her name is Marcella. I do not know if Sybil knows the truth. I would highly doubt it. And, I do not know if Bud does. Again, I highly doubt it. I don’t even know if my mother does. I’m pretty sure she was told the car accident story.
I’m not really sure where to go with this. My father, as I’m sure Bud and Sybil have told you, was never a nice man. Particularly when growing up. He no longer takes medication for his ‘issues’ and is often volatile and depressed and angry.
The fifty year anniversary of his killing his first wife, from what I can figure, is 9/30/2012! He has been very depressed lately and sometimes I worry for my mother.
I even toyed with the idea that maybe the officials told him the car accident story. But I can’t image that while in the state hospital someone didn’t address the event with him. So I don’t think that he’s blocked it out or whatever.
Honestly, I don’t know if I should tell someone or anyone at all. Particularly, mom, Bud and Sybil. Yet, if something were to happen I would never forgive myself.
There it is in a nutshell. Sorry to dump it on you. But Sybil would want to address the situation from an over the top approach. And, I know Lewis and Father do not mix well…
I’m assuming everyone else does not know. I suppose it would be worse if they did!
First, I want to tell you how sorry I am that you’ve experienced the pain of learning of your Dad’s horrendous & troubled past….. especially in the manner in which you did. To learn that your father has done unspeakable things must be a forever life-altering moment and I’m deeply saddened for all of you. For all of us. Now, I must tell you something.
Your mom is aware of his crime and so is Sybil. And, I was just recently brought into the loop when Sybil came to visit 2 weeks ago. Bud is NOT aware—-as of yet.
This is how it was told to me: Your mom discovered the facts and started hinting to Sybil about a year and a half ago to do some research online regarding Harold. Lee couldn’t find anything & begged your mother for more details.
Your mom reluctantly gave some very scant information and confided to Sybil that she is afraid to leave Harold because of this event. Sybil has been carrying this knowledge for the past 1 1/2 year in fear of your mother’s life & like you, didn’t know what to do with the information. Fast forward a year and a half……….
While Lee was here, I started relaying my hurt feelings to Sybil that Harold was so cold & unloving to Bud & I when we were all gathered for Gram’s last day of life. I explained that
he’s the closest thing that I have left for a Dad now that my father has passed and he didn’t even hug me when he saw us. I told her that I was especially hurt for Bud because that’s his father, and he hadn’t seen him
for a year and Harold just sat in his truck and wouldn’t even get out to hug us. He just rolled his window down to talk to us. I was absolutely appalled and broken-hearted.
I was also sharing with Lee that Harold hurt Kent’s feelings at Gram’s funeral…..because instead of thanking Justin for taking the day off from work to come to the funeral OR congratulating him on the impending birth of his first child, the
only thing Harold had to say after not seeing his grandson for a year was “Wow! You got fat!” Kent was angry, hurt, and when he shared this exchange with me, I was furious too. My kids have been nothing but kind, courteous and well-mannered and for 25 years have always taken the high road and gone out of their way to try to make conversation with Harold even when he’s been rude, dismissive, and uninterested in them. So, as I was sharing all of this with Lee, how hurt I feel that he’s missing this opportunity to be there for me with the loss of my own Dad, and how sad it is that he’s so cold to Bud and how mean-spirited he is towards my children………Lee tells me there’s more to the story. And then she tells me the story about Elizabeth. My jaw dropped and I was mortified. And I wept. For your Mom. For you kids. To learn as an adult that you were raised by a murderer is beyond comprehension.
That he fabricated a whole story about a cheating wife dying in a car crash with a boyfriend so he’s the VICTIM is unforgivable for me……..lest we not forget, that my uncle was murdered, stabbed in fact, hacked to death in Concord, NH not that long ago. It actually turns my stomach.
Sybil & I discussed whether we should tell Bud while she was still here and we ultimately decided that it wasn’t the right time. I don’t know when the “right” time will ever be, but it will have to be soon, I suppose. We also
talked about disclosing this dreadful news to you. We both thought for right now, you have much going on, and it probably wasn’t a good time to dump it on you either. That may have been wrong, and Lee even said she
knows how much I despise FAMILY SECRETS. It’s one of my greatest pet peeves. But, we were truly trying to protect you at least for the time being.
I’m very sorry Ruth if it feels like anything other than a loving. caring, decision at the time.
Sybil is VERY concerned about your mom’s safety. She thinks that if Harold finds out that any of us knows about this, that your mom’s life will be in danger. That’s the primary reason we didn’t tell Bud. We are afraid
of him whispering “murderer” under his breath every time he sees Harold if he knows about this.
I have searched the internet extensively for Marcella. I’ve had no luck. Although I didn’t open your attachments, I’m sure I’ve read them. I’ve read tons of articles relating to the crime—-Sybil & I searched while she was here and we
found lots of newspaper clippings on the internet.
We should let Sybil know that you know. It would give her such great relief. It’s your decision how best to do that…….I can tell her or you can. Let me know ASAP.
I was kinda thinking this might be the topic when you originally wrote. I’m glad you know.
I haven’t had a conversation, nor email with your mom discussing any of it. I don’t know how private her emails are. And our goal is to keep her alive.