What follows is the original un-edited written narrative “history” I was asked to write for the Public Defender’s Investigator:
The first time I met Tiffany she was in the Ventura Alano Club and I didn’t know who she belonged to. I was the only person sitting at the table in the meeting hall and this tiny kid walked up and pulled a chair out next to me with a handful of crayons and some paper… I couldn’t understand a word she said but it was clear she wanted me to color with her so I drew flowers and faces and we talked up a storm… I just guessed at what she was saying and kept drawing and describing what I drew as the picture developed.
Lisa was there in the club but I wasn’t too sure who she was or if the little girl was hers until more people started filing in and she sat down on the other side of Tiffany.
I had seen Lisa around in meetings before, most memorably in a big book study in Camarillo on the State Hospital grounds… Lisa was quite striking… But I had never seen little incongruously blond Tiffany before.
I’m sure Lisa and I must have spoken at this time but I honestly don’t recall.
Some time down the road Lisa asked me for a ride to her apartment. I drove her and Tiffany to [Right across from Lincoln School] and Lisa invited me upstairs. The apartment was this really small studio with a bathroom that you actually had to walkthrough the closet to get to.
Lisa had made a bed in one side of this closet and she laid Tiffany down and told her it was bedtime or something to that effect which I thought was strange… Not so much that it was a closet the kid was sleeping in (You make do with what you’ve got) but that it was late afternoon and it was still light out.
I remember that Lisa and I sat and talked but have no real recollection of what we talked about. She struck me as very attractive and interesting (interesting because of her heavy Brooklyn New York dialect) but she was a touch too “transcendental” kind of “out there”.
I do clearly remember very early on and perhaps it was even during our first conversation here Lisa told me Tiffany was a “Crack Baby” and she really did seem to treat Tiffany like there was something wrong with her… She seemed fine to me but, how the hell should I know and who the hell was I? so I didn’t press my thoughts on Lisa at the time.
It was not until later (I don’t recall how long… Perhaps a month) that Lisa and I had anything more than a casual acquaintance and our first venture into anything beyond that had a rather abrupt end… I don’t even recall exactly why but I walked away shaking my head.
It was at this time I had also met and began “dating” Paula Jones… Met in AA, Very Cute, Strawberry Blond, Batshit Insane… Relationship lasted maybe a month or two. I should mention that before meeting either one of these two I had been “Dating” a bunch of women… Not from AA and I was pretty burned out on the “Singles Scene” Mostly because I suppose they all drank and I didn’t… Sport sex wasn’t fun anymore.
After Paula and I split Lisa and I began seeing each other again quite a bit. I actually don’t remember Tiffany being there all of the time but I have no idea of where she would have gone or who she would stay with.
Somewhere in here Lisa introduced me to John and Rose Fassulo (the couple she came out to California with), we had driven to their home with Tiffany and I found them to be not just batshit insane but fucking batshit insane. John Fassulo tried to convince me he was John the Baptist reincarnated along with all other manner of lunacy… I then understood why Lisa was a little too transcendental.
I told Lisa I felt like I’d just met the next Jim Jones (David Koresh was yet to get fried in Waco at this time… I had to explain Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid to her) and I told her she needed to stay way the fuck away from them.
At some point down the road Lisa and I were serious enough that I decided she should move into my house… My feeling was “Hell here is this woman I’m seeing and her kid is sleeping in a closet… Screw it, move her in (because I’m not doing anything else with my life anyway.)”
Some time after this Tiffany and I drove down to the video rental place. A little girl someplace close to Tiffany’s age struck up a conversation with her. During this talk the little girl asked if I was Tiffany’s dad. Tiffany got this “stricken” look and said she didn’t have a dad. I had never seen a kid with such a sad look.
During the drive back up the street I told Tiffany that it was okay if she wanted to call me her dad… Lisa and I had been living together for a while and it was right then that I decided I would breach the subject of marriage (“What the Hell… I wasn’t doing anything else with my life anyway”). I’m pretty sure Tiffany began calling me Daddy instead of Daniel immediately.
Tiffany was extremely gregarious and “chatty” We called her “Tiffany-Talk-A Lot” like a little doll, you would pull the string and she would chatter on, she was always “on” as in very theatrical and animated. She was still damn hard for me to understand at this point as well… Lot of what she said was still “baby gibberish” but she was really still little.
Tiffany became very attached to my parents and my parents became attached to her as well. She spent a lot of time with my mom and dad and they treated her quite literally like their little princess… Grand parents spoil grand kids and they were doing their job to the hilt. I didn’t mind, it seemed like a good thing to me at the time.
I don’t remember how long after all this but Lisa and I were married April 8 1995
I remember at some point I had discussions with Lisa about Tiffany being a “Crack Baby” and it was my position that she seemed fine to me and even pretty bright compared to other kids I saw her age… I don’t recall it being a contentious point between us but I was annoyed by Lisa treating Tiffany like there was something wrong with her.
Lisa would often be what struck me as “intrusive” with Tiffany as well. One example was that Lisa had told me she had been a dental assistant… Okay fine… But she was always sticking her hands in the kid’s mouth and inspecting her teeth… It seemed to that Lisa was always scrutinizing Tiffany more like the kid was a specimen rather than a little person, However I generally deferred to her because I really didn’t feel like I knew better and arguing the point wasn’t going to go anyplace. Also none of it really looked to be “abusive” but just “Damn Woman… Let the kid breath”.
One incident I was actually taken aback by though was when I had come home from work and Tiffany was standing in the corner, I remember Lisa was in the kitchen and I pointed to Tiffany and asked her why she was there. So told me tiffany had done something (I cant recall what but I do recall it wasn’t scary or serious) and I shrugged and went to take a shower, change clothes etc… a ritual that probably took me more than 20 minutes when I came back out Tiffany was still standing in the corner and I asked Lisa what was up with that… She told me she had something like 20 minutes left to her punishment and I said something to the effect of how long has she been standing there, how long did she get stood there for? I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was insane something like 2 hours… Insane!
I went to the corner and pulled Tiffany out of the corner (more like off of the intersecting walls she was stuck to) and could feel that she was shaking and the whole front of her was wet from tears, the wall and left an impression on both sides of her face.
I told her and Lisa that was enough (ENOUGH) I don’t recall the conversation I had with Lisa at all but I don’t think it was a fight at all, I’m sure we reached an agreement that a 4(?) year old did not need that severe of a punishment for anything… I do remember my overwhelming thought and feeling was like “Jesus Christ! I couldn’t stand like that for 30 minutes”.
I don’t recall any other incidents of that gravity and I was on guard for it, this incident had a pretty profound effect on how I viewed Lisa as a mother… Not that I thought she was abusive (with intent) but just really unreasonable. I’m sure that I also took a less passive view of her opinions about Tiffany’s overall being. There was at some point a discussion where I told Lisa to stop referring to her as a “Crack Baby” especially right in front of the kid and I began to disagree with her openly about her opinion Tiffany had anything wrong with her at all.
I do remember one incident I had with Tiffany. We were standing on the sidewalk in front of Johnny’s Mexican Food on the Avenue and Tiffany wasn’t watching where she was going and just about ran off the curb into traffic… I reached out and grabbed her by her ponytail… It was what I could get a grip on in that split second, I was scared shitless, I yelled at her, only time I can recall at all being cross with her.
As I remember Tiffany during the years following she was generally well behaved and required no disciplining. She was polite to everyone and very self correcting and self controlled. An Example:
I had given her a huge box of crayons and told her she could use them to color on her walls (I always thought that would be cool and it was of no consequence because I planned on completely remodeling the room in the future).
I told her anything in the inside her room was fair game to color on Except for the door… One day I came home and there was coloring on the door… I wasn’t mad but I did say something to the effect of “hey you, I told you color anywhere but on the door.”
It wasn’t a big deal to me, I’d only told her not to color on the door so the artwork was contained to the inside of the room… Whatever… The door was going to go as well when I re did the room. I told her something like no biggie, forget about it.
The next thing I knew she had a bowl of something and rags and diligently removed the crayon markings from the door, she was maybe all of 5 years old and she did this completely on her own.
This incident pretty much covered the over all impression of “Tiffany”, she was never any trouble at all, like the perfect little girl you could take anywhere without any problems.
The neighborhood I lived in sucked, Ventura Avenue area, and there was a fight to get Tiffany into a school in a better part of the district, both Lisa and I firmly agreed on this point and we fought like hell for it… Side note: When I was in the 6th grade I wound up in a school on the wrong side of the tracks I was one of only 2 “Gringo” students in that school… I fought the School District on Tiffany’s placement and it was a fight I took seriously.
Lisa and I always attended AA meetings together and Tiffany almost always went with us since the day that we moved in together. Tiffany would have a coloring book or something to keep her busy and it was almost like she wasn’t even there during the one hour meetings…
Then sometime early in our marriage Lisa started using again and I was un aware of it for a while, but I did find out and I found out about an incident when Lisa had gone to “score” drugs with this girl Vicky Allen she was an AA Sponsor to (what a joke) and they had taken Tiffany with them (someplace in Oxnard) I Blew Right the Fuck Up, this was a very ugly fight.
Her using and my blowing up over it went on for some period of time and I eventually came to the conclusion I was done… It was going to be complicated… I knew that but there was no way I could be married to someone that was loaded.
A couple of days after Lisa and I had a huge fight (Someone called police… Don’t remember who… Probably Lisa, I’m not a cop caller and the neighbors didn’t give a shit). I got a phone call from the Police and it was about Tiffany and something that had happened (I assumed) at the Girl’s Club where Tiffany spent some time.
I went to talk to the police and came to realize they were interrogating me and said that Tiffany told them I had touched her… I told them something to the effect of Bullshit and I told them I didn’t know what the hell was up with that… I remember clearly them asking me why Tiffany would lie about that and I told them she wouldn’t lie, she was a good kid and I doubted she had said it and if she had said anything close to what they were saying the only explanation was she had a weird dream.
When I got home Lisa had split with Tiffany, PSSA was crawling up our ass, Lisa told me that she had been the one that touched Tiffany but it was just to turn her over in bed or something… She said a lot of stuff… She said she took Tiffany straight to a doctor after the Cops and PSSA showed up and nothing had happened to her… I don’t remember it all. Some time later, maybe it was that same day or night I told her just to stay at the house and I would split instead because she couldn’t stay in a motel or whatever with a little kid.
So, I was couch surfing and contemplating my impending divorce for a few days and then got word the police were called out to my house because Lisa had shot a Dog in the back yard through the window… Hit the Dog… Dog survived… I was liable for the Vet bill.
I owned a lot of firearms both riffles/shotguns and pistols, I made Tiffany very aware of this and the dangers they posed, all were kept child safe but I figured it best that she know and understand rather than just hide them from her. –
She left the house with Tiffany and was staying with Pat McCormick, so I was living in my house contemplating my impending divorce for a little while, I did visit with Tiffany but I seriously don’t remember it all. Lisa was running all over hell talking to lawyers PSSA had offered some kind of deal and whatever, I was really only concerned that Tiffany was going to get kicked to the curb here no matter how things went in a divorce between Lisa and me. Lisa was adamant that she did not want to split up and that Tiffany especially wanted to come home (That worked on me) but there was a lot of back and forth about her drug use and we even had a big altercation at the house when she had come over and I found a bag of pills in the pocket of my jacked she had been wearing… Anyway, I through her out and she ran me over with her Volkswagen that night but somehow… Lisa and Tiffany came home.
After them coming home Lisa had changed; she was clearly sober and clearly intended to stay that way.
PSSA dropped everything at some point and just went away, I recall hearing from someone and I swear I don’t know who but it was but I was told that Tiffany’s statement really didn’t implicate me and that it probably was just some kind of weird dream, I was told that whoever touched her didn’t have a head… Go figure.
Lisa continued to stay sober and she had even become more independent, all around our relationship was better than it had ever been, things were going well. I was more involved with Tiffany and we really spent more time together, father and daughter during this time than before (because Lisa didn’t drag her around like a hand bag any more, I didn’t see it like that before but that’s how she treated Tiffany before this).
Lisa became pregnant after a couple of miscarriages (we were trying) and Tiffany was very excited about getting a little brother or sister. Tiffany and I spent quite a bit of time on our own during this time (mostly she was just around because I was really working a lot at my job as well as on the house). Tiffany as usual was never any trouble and never “in the way”, Tiffany was rather helpful to have around even at that age.
Looking back Tiffany always struck me as intelligent but quite simple like “What You See is What You Get” She wasn’t any trouble in my view because she didn’t have any trouble, she seemed to adapt very well to whatever came down the pike so I never really worried about her and the effect the adverse conditions she had come from and gone through seemed to have not affected her adversely. Tiffany was resilient… Tiffany was a happy kid.
When Zoe was born Tiffany really stepped up to the roll of big sister, whatever was needed Tiffany had it covered, and she was an all around great kid I remember have no problems with Tiffany but I have vague recollections of Lisa complaining about her, I would have brushed it off as Lisa’s just being too critical of Tiffany because even though she no longer ground the kid down she did seem to have some slight sort of animosity towards her I could not really put a name on.
I had taken to driving Tiffany to and from school; it was on my way to work one of those days a lady in a Honda Accord ran a red light and center punched my little BMW on the drivers door, it had briefly knocked me out I guess and Tiffany was screaming when I came to, she had not been seriously injured but I’m sure she was sore the next day, I on the other hand spent several months messed up from the crash. I know Tiffany was a lot of help to Lisa at the time I was laid up and I remember the kid helping me get up all the time and bringing things to me.
Lisa got a little crazy over it all, but who wouldn’t with a newborn and a cracked up husband. I remember her giving Tiffany a hard time as well as going on and on about lawsuits… Time went on. I got better and went back to work. Things settled down, then there was the surprise pregnancy that would be Evan.
Someplace in here Lisa became convinced that Tiffany had ADHD (I guess she was having some degree of trouble with her grades in school), I was convinced that Tiffany was just Tiffany, intelligent and kind enough but not any kind of genius I was also convinced that Lisa still had some kind of need for Tiffany to be messed up and somehow managed to convince her teachers as well. Lisa and I fought about it but I am not clear of the outcome of those fights. I was clear with her that medication was out of the question in my opinion, I had (and have) a deep mistrust of dope pushing doctors.
This was a very stressful time as I remember it; I was still messed up from the accident and was pushing myself pretty hard because I could see the writing on the wall, tiny two bedroom house in a shitty neighborhood and three kids wasn’t going to cut it.
During this time I knew that Lisa was leaning on Tiffany but I wasn’t too concerned, Tiffany as always seemed to handle it. Tiffany and I actually spending a lot of time together during this time I remember taking her with me to the lumber yard all the time and I think I took her with me to meetings.
Zoe was a nightmare baby, not that she was awful or anything but she was high maintenance Tiffany was always coming to the rescue because dad was working and then coming home and working and mom was pregnant out like a house.
I was having concrete poured, built a laundry room, bought a minivan…. Things were okay in general but there was a lot of juggling. Lisa was quite demanding but hell, we understood.
Evan was born and the dynamics all changed this time is blurry in my memory, I was house selling and house hunting … We needed a bigger place. Tiffany as ever, was never any trouble in my mind she was with me often I drove her to and from school and she was often at my place of work at times doing homework before school started and sometimes in the afternoon I think by this time.
I know that if I were asked then I’d have said “Tiffany and I were close”… But I can’t really say what was up with her, other than she seemed fine (life was very busy).
I’m not exactly sure when this was (I think it was the 4th of July… Fuck now I have a bad song playing in my head) but I think we were well on our way to moving to a bigger house. We had a barbeque at the little house on Sunny Way in the back yard and there were quite a few people over. Zoe was small Even was tiny and Tiffany was a kid.
Somehow Evan took a nosedive into the ground off of a lounge chair all three of the kids were sitting on, everyone jumped, Lisa marched over and rather than picking up Evan she grabbed Tiffany by the hair and started dragging and beating her all the way into the house. It was chaos.
After someone grabbed Evan up I chased Lisa and Tiffany into the house and I actually had to untangle them. I don’t remember who else was standing there but it was somebody. I sent Lisa away, told her to get Evan someplace to get checked out.
Tiffany was honest to god beat the fuck up, I checked her all out for broken bones, inspected her ribs and her face she was bleeding from her scalp but she didn’t have any major damage on her. I got her cleaned up and asked her what the hell happened and all she could tell me was exactly what I saw… Evan fell, Lisa grabbed her and beat the shit out of her and she didn’t know why.
Lisa and I had a fight about this that lasted for days, she blamed Tiffany and that was that it was all Tiffany’s fault. I wasn’t going to let it slide and I was in truth very angry with Lisa I clearly remember telling her if she ever did something like that again I would “Kick the shit out of her, never mind turn her in for child abuse” … And I meant it.
I became very watchful because of this incident; Lisa became openly critical of Tiffany and was constantly “telling on Tiffany” every chance she got. Telling me things like Tiffany was being incorrigible, hostile and behaving irrationally and even telling me that Tiffany was harming the two younger kids.
I wasn’t buying any of it, I had NEVER seen Tiffany behave in any way other than “a decent kid” and from the binging it was clear to me Lisa was hyper critical of Tiffany this had become less prevalent for a while I guess but here it was.
I would ask Tiffany on the way to school how things were at home when I was gone at work and she never said anything that made me wonder about her. It was becoming clear that there was something “more than met the eye” going on with Lisa and I felt like I had to stand between them to protect Tiffany from her mother.
I’m not sure if it was just my suspicion or if it had come out then but Lisa was taking ADHD medication that was prescribed to Tiffany… Namely Ritalin… Speed . I know she admitted to taking medication prescribed to Tiffany but I don’t remember when that was that it had finally all come to light.
I’m not sure but as I recall we were in escrow all during this time and shortly after this started we moved and all hell broke loose.
This time in my memory is really blurred:
I cannot remember what came first if I found more drugs stashed by Lisa or if I found out she had been having an affair with my friend David “Rusty” Nowlin but one or the other happened on the day we were packing to move from Sunny Way Dr. to Neath St. There was no “big fight” that night but I did leave the Sunny Way Dr. house that night and slept on the floor of the empty Neath St. house. I think it was the next day we finished moving everything and Lisa told me to leave.
I spent a week at Motel 6 and came by the house to see the kids a few times… I know I was contemplating several homicides among a few other entertaining things. I remember Maureen Pruitt being involved up to her (Insert nastiest term possible)… And trying to tell me what it was I needed to do… I do believe I told her to get fucked… Anyway it was a train wreck… I was a train wreck… But then I got a grip and started to think.
I think it was a week into this shit that I had the kids at the park and I sat Tiffany down and carefully asked her if she understood what was going on (she had way more of an understanding than I expected), and then I asked her what she wanted. She was adamant (Actually pleading) that I must come home
At this same time Zoe who was just tiny but she talked like nobody would believe told me that I needed to come home (I did get the feeling that she was primed to say this but then Zoe was Zoe ever since Zoe was).
I considered my options for a few days, I had also spoken to a lawyer about the situation, custody, residence, blah, blah, and it was on his advice with the intent to eventually wade into a divorce that I moved into my home and I remember this clear as a bell.
I told Lisa if she didn’t like it she could leave, she threatened to call the police. I told her please do and instead she left for a couple of days.
Now this is important: Tiffany for the first time ever inserted herself directly into a situation and began to volunteer her thoughts and opinions.
Tiffany gave me the rundown of what had been going on while I was gone for that week and a half. Tiffany told me her mother was planning to divorce me and Maureen Pruitt and some other people were helping her.
Tiffany told me this plan had been in the works since before we moved. Tiffany strait up told me that her mother was having an affair with Rusty (I had no idea she knew at this point and it upset me because she was really just a kid).
Tiffany was very fearful about it all and she made it very clear that it was her mother she blamed and not me.
During this talk with Tiffany she broke down crying and said “they” said I wasn’t even her dad and that she would automatically stay with Lisa… That made me crack up on the spot and I promised her that no matter what anyone said I WAS her dad and that I would do whatever it took to protect her as well as her little brother and sister. I promised her that no mater what I would make sure (maybe even stated “or die trying”) she was okay… This was how I felt and this is why I bothered to wade in the way I did.
Maureen Pruitt called me several times to “give me advice” on “how to handle my situation”… Basically telling me to do exactly the opposite of what the lawyer I spoke to told me to do.
Ugly Honest Moment: I remember the change in her tone when I told her that Lisa and I had not been married long enough for her to be “fully vested”, there was no money in the bank because I had it all stashed in cash and the fucking house was in my name and my name only. I also told Maureen Pruitt (somewhat true) I had documented evidence of Lisa’s drug abuse and mental instability going all the way back. Just thinking about this conversation makes me fucking giggle every time.
Lisa came back a day or two after that… And it was ugly, REALLY ugly, but I wouldn’t “dance” with her. She made all manner of threats and was quite out of her mind. She was also quite wrecked on prescription drugs.
During this time all of my actions were based on the fact that I was not yet in a position to wage war in court and then there were 3 kids involved and no matter how much I hated Lisa I figured I could ride out a cold war long enough to come up with some kind of solution (what that could have been I do not fucking know). And it got REALLY crazy.
Tiffany during this time seemed invisible and who could blame her, I only remember interacting with her just to let her know that no mater how crazy it got I would protect all of them. I’m not sure if I really noticed it at the time but I think this was when Tiffany began to “shield” Evan and Zoe. When things got hot, she would usher them off to another part of the house.
Lisa was seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist or who really knows… There was chaos. She had come back with a diagnosis of Bi Polar Disorder and there was a flurry of her blaming this for her erratic behavior and her part in our marital problems. I did not buy it but I also did not dismiss it out of hand, I believed she was very mentally ill but I did not believe it was Bi Polar. Lisa now had begun making overtures of reconciliation…
Again it was Maureen Pruitt that attempted to negotiate our relationship trying to get me to “work with Lisa”. I think it was then that I agreed to go to marriage counseling I knew I was not blameless in our marital problems but I honestly did not know exactly what the hell it was that I did wrong and could easily see that whatever part I played was minimal compared to whatever the hell it was “Lisa was up to this time”. I went into counseling sessions with less than an open mind… I still think I could have skipped all of that.
Lisa at this time often zeroed in on Tiffany and I think I recall hearing the term Crack Baby come out of her mouth a few times again. Lisa began treating Tiffany again like there was something wrong with her and I saw it as Lisa clearly using Tiffany as a scapegoat. This did not go over well with me, the fights were brutal when it came to the kids and I got very crazy myself over it.
Some time down the road that year (Ugly Truth Again) I adopted a new policy of open hostility toward Lisa, Lisa had taken to falsely accusing me of physically “abusing” her… This was bullshit because I had NEVER raised a hand to her or anyone else in that house so rather than continuing to protest my innocents I made it clear to Lisa at some point that I would “paint the walls in her blood” if she didn’t stop causing shit… Oddly, Lisa chilled out somewhat (not what I expected at all to achieve). For a time the cold war turned into a tentative non aggression pact.
I remember Tiffany around and had seemed to revert to her usual “all round good kid” I remember things were relatively stable in the house for her 12th birthday and we arranged a big party, I was more than willing to spring for it because I was really feeling for her because life was so crazy and I really wanted to “make up for it” just because she was such a good kid. We rented a Jolly Jumper and put it right in front of the house. I remember being very happy with the way it went, she and a bunch of her friends had a very good time and she being the best big sister ever cheerfully included her little brother and sister in all of it.
Tiffany and I did share a few passions though and one was cars, her dream car at this time was the BMW Z3 (of course… Dad’s a BMW Tech). Tiffany and I often talked about cars.
Long about this time Tiffany decided that she would clean my black BMW 3 once a week “because if she was going to be seen in it, it was going to look good” and like most things she decided to do my car was over the top incredible clean. She detailed it out so well I floated the idea that I had many customers at work that asked me where they could find a good detailer and a full detail that was no place near as thorough as she was cost about $200 and she could clean up.
She really liked the idea so I went ahead and got her all the professional supplies necessary and she hit it hard, she immediately paid me back for the supplies out of her first job and she ran her own show from there (when she needed supplies she handed me cash to get them). She handled it all on her own except for the fact I could feed her customers and I had no problem with doing that because even at 12 ~14 years old she did the best detail job I’d ever seen. She was in more demand than she could supply and the kid really made bank so she never was never hurting for pocket change.
Another thing Tiffany and I shared was our taste and appreciation of music Tiffany actually turned me on to a lot of stuff I would have otherwise missed and I turned her on to stuff that nobody her age had ever heard, we always traded off what we would listen to on the way to and back from school (this started when she was in grade school and continued on even after she left town… she would pop up with have you heard so and so yet?… We still talked about cars as well).
There was a continuing period of relative stability in the house and around that time Lisa had found a church and after a while she encouraged me to attend it with her saying that the pastor was a young intelligent guy and that I might enjoy talking to him. Lisa also began to talk seriously about getting “right” with our life… I was not opposed to trying, I honestly wanted to just have a life and raise the kids to be better people than Lisa and I was. I had very strong feelings about what a broken home did to children. Lisa also found a new sponsor other than Maureen Pruett (that seemed like a plus to me at the time but that would later prove to be a whole new nightmare).
Lisa was on medication all during this time and it seemed that it was under control I never agreed with her using meds but I also wasn’t a total fanatic against them.
This relative peace lasted about a year, Lisa and I weren’t on good terms but we weren’t on bad terms. I think… This was also about the time that some odd things that had been happening sporadically began to escalate… Hang up calls and weird coded text messages.
Unfortunately Lisa began abusing the drugs again and at first it wasn’t all that apparent or crazy it took an unusually long time for all hell to break loose. Things were pretty weird and I was really not sure at all what was going on with Lisa. Things started going sideways, Lisa again started insisted that Tiffany was not right in the head and Tiffany was just as insistent (in confidence to me) that her mother was crazy.
It seemed to me the pattern with Lisa was to misdirect my attention using Tiffany as the scapegoat and anything she said about Tiffany was suspect. On the other hand Tiffany never appeared to be anything other than “what you see is what you get”.
I believe this was the time that Lisa insisted Tiffany was having problems sleeping. I felt that it would be perfectly normal if the kid was having trouble sleeping or having nightmares because her whole world was unstable.
The only recollection I have that I’m sure I witnessed and wasn’t just told about was Lisa waking me up (I think) and then finding Tiffany out like a light in her bed and she appeared to have been eating chalk/gypsum, it was all in her teeth and smeared on her cheek. Lisa brought in a dampened rag and I wiped it out of her mouth and off her face… The kid really did sleep like the dead and I’m pretty sure she didn’t wake up at all. I looked around to see what she had gotten into (thinking it might have been sheetrock) and it remained a mystery. I think that was what made me go along with this sleep study with the Chinese Dr Mengele.
I knew that Tiffany had some kind of stress building from living in the bad craziness but I also knew that Lisa would capitalize on any symptoms Tiffany may or may not be exhibiting. I could not dismiss it all out of hand because well, you just can’t leave stones unturned if something might be wrong with your kid.
So Lisa arranges this sleep study… It was a horror show I’ll never forget, the Chinese Dr. Mengele shoving electrodes up the kid’s nose… Him and Lisa trying to hold her down… I blew up and said “Fuck this” nothing warranted torturing the kid.
There were things that I kind of went “Hmm” about concerning Tiffany however I was confident that once all the smoke cleared I would find that Lisa’s fingerprints were all over it. Mostly I was thinking that Lisa would use anyone and anything to cover up for and as a source for getting more tranquilizers.
Sometime in here there was an incident with Tiffany she had gone to a dance and I went to pick her up when it was over, and when we got home she said she wasn’t feeling well and headed off to bed, a short time later and I can’t really remember how it all developed Tiffany was in stupor and behaving like she was hallucinating. Lisa seemed to balk at this but I insisted and rushed Tiffany to the Hospital.
They put her on O2, monitors, drew blood and I sat there in the ER for hours. After a while she seemed normal but tired. They came back and said they could find nothing in her system, I asked about all the weird date rape drugs etc and they told me they tested her for everything they could on the spot and found nothing, I think they said there would be further tests and they promised to follow up with us.
They released her and it was something like 3 or 4am. Still she seemed fine until we just about got home and then she was suddenly just as whacked as when we left. I sat up all night and I think Lisa did as well. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time, I suspicious there was the possibility she was faking but I was thinking she was slipped something at the dance that they had not tested for I was also a little suspicious of Lisa because she acted kind of strange about it… (Lisa had drugged me once and tried another time but I really think that was later but maybe this incident was later too… Not sure)
Though this incident was very troublesome I didn’t get much time to think on it… Everything that happened in that home was rapidly overshadowed by the next bout of bad craziness.
Again, more friction started to develop between Tiffany and her mother and it was apparent (to me anyway) that Lisa was the cause. I told Tiffany to just keep her head down and try not to clash with her mother; I didn’t know what was “really” going on at this time and I was even entertaining the idea that something else was the matter I was just not yet fully aware of (the idea that Lisa actually was Bi Polar had crept in but I later found out that some of the drugs she took did not have visible tells like pin prick or blown out pupils) .
Then it was late 2002, early 2003 all hell broke loose again and Tiffany was right smack in the middle of it. I had witnessed Lisa crazy on drugs before but she had suddenly reached a whole new level of out of her fuckin’ mind.
Tiffany began to take a physical stand directly against her mother. Tiffany would call me at work to let me know that she and the little ones were okay but that I needed to come home because mom was crazy and/or that she passed out.
Lisa would deny being crazy and would say she was just taking a nap (this was almost plausible because she NEVER SLEPT at night anymore) and then Lisa would be telling me Tiffany insane and needed to be hospitalized… Lisa and I would fight for a while and then it started all over again the next day and the cops would come some more. The police showed up so often because she called them, I would just sit and wait in the garage and they would ask me if she was still inside or if she had left (they really wanted to get her driving). They would check on the kids, tell Lisa to go to bed I’d shrug they’d shake their heads and split.
This escalated to a point where I came home and the refrigerator was in the front lawn and the little kids were coved in paint stripper, she had torn apart the kitchen cabinets. Lisa chased me with a knife, and she called the cops but then she was so loaded she passed out before they arrived. She had torn up the bathroom as well somewhere at this time.
The cops started showing up all the time, Lisa went to the nuthouse for a while, my mother and church people were around while she was hospitalized and then she came home even crazier. In the beginning of April I came home from work one day and she had Tiffany on the floor in the hallway knocking the snot out of her, when I pulled Lisa off, Tiffany ran out of the house with the two little kids and called the police.
Tiffany said she was stopping her mother from driving with them because her mother was wasted (good girl) and her mother beat the snot out of her (that I saw). And yeah Lisa was wasted.
I wanted her taken to Jail for once but the police took her back to Vista Del Mar but she came home in a Taxi late that night and begged to be let in.
A day or two later Lisa overdosed on something, she was turning blue, I was going to go to bed and let her die but for some reason I rolled her over and got her breathing again.
I was fucking done, this woman had to go. I remember Tiffany was horrified that her mother was there the next day. This seemed like it went on for years but I’m told it all happened within 2 months.
Now what happened next had never happened before, Lisa got up the next day and came home with a waitress uniform… She had gotten a job. I remember that I was basically struck dumb… Paralyzed; actually nobody was saying anything out loud.
Tiffany was now in what appeared to be “ready for combat” mode and took to physically placing herself between her mother and her little brother and sister. Tiffany began talking to me in a whole new fashion as well, she would question me whenever the opportunity arouse about what was I going to do (In short term retrospect I came to believe that Tiffany was thinking clearer than I was at this time).
Lisa had re invented herself to all appearances in short order. She was still crazy, I knew that for sure, but I was stymied. She went to work most every day and I had never seen anything like that happen.
Also during this time (somewhere) I discussed the possibilities of how a divorce might go with Tiffany if I recall this right at all she was the one that brought it up and I admitted that I was indeed thinking about it. I told her truthfully the probability was high that I would divorce her mother. Her biggest concern seemed to be that she was afraid of what her mother would do to her if I was not there. I told her that I worried about that as well and I was taking that into consideration because the issue of her custody could be a problem because I wasn’t her “natural” father and at that point I had no way of actually legally adopting her because her mother had all the cards in that area as I understood it.
Tiffany asked me a lot of questions that I probably should not have answered or involved her in. Especially her questions about her mother’s affair, my thinking was that somehow she had already been informed about it some time ago rather than let her rolling it through her head and coming up with god knows what I’d just tell her what I knew.
I was run pretty ragged there was a lot of things going on besides the bad craziness, a lot of things were neglected during the insane times and I thought I had catching up that really needed to be done. Really what I had was probably the beginnings of a nervous break down.
I had all this stuff torn apart in the house and I began working on it all, finishing the master bedroom and bath, a lot of plumbing and structural repairs especially in the garage and its foundation. Lisa had torn apart the kitchen and the hall bathroom during her 2 month rampage and I needed the garage done in order to have someplace to work from.
I was still going to work full time so I was pretty much exhausted all the time as well.
To me Lisa seemed to have gotten off of Tiffany’s case and seemed to treat Tiffany coolly civil, almost avoided her.
I do remember taking the kids to the restaurant Lisa worked at to eat at Lisa’s request, I’m not sure that Tiffany would go, I think I remember her avoiding it
Lisa did a very strange thing right around this time and I think it had a profound affect on Tiffany. Lisa presented Tiffany with a picture of who she told her was Tiffany’s “Real Father”. Tiffany was very “weirded out” by this and brought it to my attention by showing me the picture and asking me who it was… I honestly answered her that I had no idea (never saw the picture myself) and she told me it was supposed to be her dad.
She had a lot of questions and I answered them as best I could which wasn’t anything more than Lisa told me she didn’t know (all I knew about Tiffany’s “real father” was Lisa was glad he wasn’t the black crack dealer. I didn’t tell her that she was already torqued enough). Tiffany was extremely angry with her mother already and saw this giving her a picture of her “real dad” as some kind of personal putdown… This came up more than once. She cried about this. I did tell her no mater what I was her Dad and she even looked as much like me as her brother and sister did and definitely looked more like me than her mother (which was really true at the time).
Tiffany had changed in a way but kind of not, she had become more assertive and seemed to develop a confidence. Tiffany was still the perfect kid, very helpful (nothing new there) and by then she had pretty much taken over Zoe and Evan’s care as well.
Tiffany would report to me what was going on with her mother while I was at work, she would say her mother was acting very strangely and was treating her poorly as well as neglecting Evan and Zoe, she said that nobody was getting hit though.
Lisa, like Tiffany was reporting that Tiffany was behaving poorly and was angry because I would do nothing about it. I did not confront her at first about the fact that I had never seen Tiffany act out but I had indeed seen her go completely off the rails so many times I wasn’t inclined to believe her if she told me the sky was blue and Lisa’s behavior was indeed strange, she was clearly loaded on something at times but so far not totally out of control, she was also very unpredictable in her moods. I was intent on keeping things on an even keel because a lot of stuff was up in the air.
Some very unusual things were occurring (I think it was right around this time) a bottle of gin showed up on the porch, packages of condoms showed up in the mail box… Basically crazy juvenile shit I think this was also when Lisa repeatedly got the coded text “whore” spelled out in numbers… Like 10 or 20 times a day.
Lisa and Tiffany’s relationship began to deteriorate further, although Lisa was not at this time extremely loaded (in my presence) her mood swings were becoming more pronounced and violent. Her behavior became quite erratic.
Every day Tiffany would find a time to sit down to tell me how rotten her mother was treating her while I was gone at work, she also began to confide in me her suspicions her mother was having another affair. She told me she also very loaded some days but straightened up before I came home.
There were also some very strange incidents with Lisa that I really couldn’t figure out at all She didn’t come home from work at times and there was a day she came home from her job with a hickey (Boy that was fucked up…And it was Tiffany that pointed it out to me) but I had come to a point that I just did not care, I had been contemplating a divorce for quite some time and was simply biding my time in order to get my ducks in a row.
Tiffany’s whole attitude toward her mother had taken a very dark turn here, I neither tried to encourage nor discourage it but I did tell her to keep her cool and keep her head down. Tiffany had begun pressing me to get a divorce I can quote her verbatim “You need to get that fucking woman out of our house”.
Tiffany and Lisa were becoming openly hostile (still I saw Lisa as the instigator) but I did tell Tiffany that she needed to play it cool. There were frequent incidents that Tiffany would call me at work and I’d often come home to some kind of chaos.
I remember an incident when I came home and Lisa was furious, she was on her way out the door and when I asked her what was going on she told me to “Ask your daughter” I found Tiffany inside the house sobbing. I can’t remember at all now what the specifics were… Things like this were becoming par for the course.
Someplace in all of this Tiffany began telling me more stories of her mother’s behavior and the stories were getting darker in nature.
One day Tiffany got me off to the side and… Tiffany told me that her mother would punish her in all kinds of strange ways when I was not around, she told me this had gone on in the past when her mother was loaded. Tiffany said that her mother would also strip her down and examine her asking if she was having sex yet. Tiffany also divulged that her mother watched porn while I was away and that she had “boyfriends” from time to time. AND, Tiffany told me that all that time ago when at the Girl’s Club she said someone touched her… It was her mother and it was not just her mother tucking her in.
All of this came out in a way that struck me she was finally letting go of deep dark secrets. I tried to pries out any more information about what had been going on, I was fearful that she indeed had been molested by someone but she denied it.
I remember feeling totally fucking sick and scared shitless. I told Tiffany she needed to hang on because I had to get my shit together in order to protect her and the little ones.
The fight was 100% polarized by this time and Tiffany and I were clearly in one corner with Lisa in the other. In this time Tiffany began telling me that her mother was doing all kinds of awful things to her. Tiffany began exhibiting raw fear of her mother. Lisa’s behavior that I had witnessed myself was definitely unacceptable and Tiffany’s expanding on that left me with no choice but to take action.
I discussed in depth with Tiffany how I was going to approach the impending divorce and I gave her instructions on how to behave (mostly to just keep her little brother and sister shielded from what I was sure would be insanely ugly) It didn’t seem strange at all to me that Tiffany seemed elated and eager to help… She was the one who had suffered the most with Lisa… She was the one that took Lisa’s beatings.
I know by this time I had supplied Tiffany with a pre paid cell phone (probably before this but for sure by this time) and I had told her to keep it on her at all times and to only use it in an emergency and to get a hold of me.
I had several discussions with a divorce lawyer, Terry James Viele (Whipple and Viele)… I worked on his wife’s silver 325ic BMW, and I had gathered up a shitload of cash… 30k and I was grabbing for more, I had a loose plan of maybe just snatching the kids and running (another unspeakable loose plan goes here) One of my big problems as I saw it was Lisa had garnered a lot of sympathy from a lot of the AA people we both knew and I was never a “feel sorry for me and my plight” kind of guy… I was not well liked by some of the AA Icons and I never hid my animosity towards them. I could see them lining up to testify that I beat Lisa and the kids with beer bottles I was secretly stashing (funny because court came pretty close to what I imagined).
Lisa was in a rage over something, I was in the garage working. I stopped her in the middle of what she was on about and told her she needed to leave the house, take whatever she thought she needed put it in the van and leave because I was not going to tolerate her shit for another day…. Lisa went absolutely berserk.
Lisa was out on the curb screaming into her cell phone. Tiffany came out into the garage with me at some point and was asking me what I needed her to do, she was calm and serious. It seemed that her only concern was protecting Evan and Zoe from what was happening in the moment (Lisa all the while, screaming out on the sidewalk). I was honestly impressed with her and how she was handling what was happening.
I cant remember the order this happened in but Lisa called me a day or two later at work screaming about flat tires on the mini van and Tiffany called me telling me her mother was on her way to file a restraining order against me and get me kicked out of the house.
I think it was that night that I came home from work and everyone was gone, I got a telephone call from Tiffany in a panic that was interrupted … I’m not absolutely sure this was the time, but this happened and I told her to just keep her cool and not paint a target on herself and I was on it she calmed down and someone snatched the phone from her… I don’t remember who it was or what was said. Somehow I think it was Mark Bowles (Sue Bowels husband).
I was scared but I had faith in Tiffany, I thought she would keep her head.
I rounded up big cash, called Terry, the one lawyer I knew for some quick advice on how to answer the ex parte and went to the police department to get copies of all the police reports when Lisa went nuts and smacked Tiffany around so I had something to take with me to court.
That day I know for sure was Halloween and it was raining like hell and one thing I always thought was weird, I got home after this running around and Tiffany, Zoe and Even were there with my mother (not what I expected) and only Lisa was gone. I was in a state of not panic but close, emergency mode so everything was scattered in my head. My mother or dad took Zoe trick or treating.
I remember clearly though that Tiffany had a lot to say (I don’t remember all of what) and was fully engaged in the situation. I know her biggest concern was keeping herself and the two younger ones at home because she did not feel safe with her mother. She was insistent that her mother was intoxicated and also that her mother basically “had it in for her”. And that really did not seem to be a stretch taking all of the history into consideration but she did seem a touch “14 year old dramatic”.
I assured her that I was going to do everything in my power to keep them home and keep them safe.
I’m pretty blurry again where Tiffany was in all this over the next several days that it took to actually go to court but I had hired David Schwartz (not Terry who I had been talking to) to represent me in the time the case was continued so I could seek counsel.
When we went to court Lisa was not granted a restraining order and I was not kicked out of the home, I think that it was all at that time it was decided that she would inhabit the home from 8 to 5 when I was at work and I would stay there all the rest of the time. Lisa was absolutely furious about this… No mistaking that.
Tiffany wasn’t very happy about it either and in the time this arrangement existed was when Tiffany began telling me that her mother was up to horrible things when I was gone during the day. I knew that she and her mother’s relationship was hostile and had been for some time and having seen Lisa’s behavior in the past none of it was hard to believe what Tiffany was telling me… And it literally scared the hell out of me.
There was an insane shit storm running parallel to this and word was from the AA grapevine “Tiffany was a psycho” or so said Lisa as well as Lisa’s cronies and that was an issue pertinent to the impending divorce between Lisa and me. There were also constant calls and text messages flying around from some unknown source, this had actually been going on in varying intensity for a damn long time but now I would get a text every time I left the house for work in the morning telling me some kind of insane shit, I assumed it was Lisa or Lisa’s friends attempting to rattle me… Seemed pretty stupid and I figured it was a good thing if they were doing stupid stuff to keep them busy while I compiled information with my lawyer on Lisa’s drug use and instability.
This was when I made a pact with Tiffany and even though she was only14 I had faith in her at this time. In the interest of protecting her and her siblings from a mother that was clearly a danger I brought her into my full trust and let her in on all the information of how I was going to proceed in fighting her mother for custody… Basically I began to view her as my co defendant rather than my dependent. Good? Not Good?… ???.
One thing during this I did was to tell Tiffany she could tell me anything no mater what… Another pact… And it went like this “You be completely honest with me and I promise in return I will be completely honest and fair with you”. Good? Not Good??????
I had misgivings about everything going on but they were mostly “How am I going to raise these kids without a mother and not totally fuck up?” I decided I would be the coolest single dad ever… Like the ones on TV but very hip.
Tiffany was always a diligent kid and she proved to be very resourceful, and useful in the early days of the divorce… The kid excelled at getting into things and extracting information… I’m pretty sure Tiffany was the one that got Lisa’s safe key to me so I could make a plastic copy (and looking back I think she cracked her mother’s safe long before I did).
I didn’t feel like I was using her against her mother (even though that was exactly the case) because Tiffany did all of these things of her own volition… The kid really was extremely valuable in the roll of “Comrade in Arms” and that’s what it seemed like.
Tiffany was also clearly frightened of her mother and that anxiety was taking a toll… That was not lost on me.
I felt that Tiffany deserved better than what she had for a mother and I also felt I was inept to fill that job in any way shape or form. Later I came up with this ace up my sleeve, Nissa Gay, she was this very decent young woman that had expressed a willingness to help me out in the area of “mentor to this girl because dad doesn’t know jack shit about buying tampons and the like”… She showed up a little while later I think though.
The day that Lisa blew it came as somewhat of a shock, she showed up to the house earlier than she was supposed to be there (that kind of happened a lot and I documented it) but this day she was in a rage and pushed into the house screaming at Tiffany to “give me that fucking phone you little bitch!”. It was a hell of a scene and that took us back into court. (By the way this was another pre paid cell phone I bought her because we never saw the last one she had again after her panicked call from Sue Bowels home… I think I ended up supplying Tiffany with 4 or 5 new cell phones and numbers in the course of only a few months).
Actually Lisa dragged me back into court to have me ejected. Her entire argument revolved around Tiffany being insane, the telephone text shit storm (that I never really understood) and the old standard Daniel is a crazy ass hole thing… But it backfired and the Judge kicked her out of the house.
The first thing I did after that was to question Tiffany about what she knew about her mother’s losing it over the phone and why she was so adamant the Tiffany give it to her. Tiffany said she didn’t have any idea… I believed her because Lisa really was insane like that.
Tiffany was very happy and relived that her mother was gone from the home, we talked about it and there were plans of how to make the logistics of day in and day out life work. I was very tired by this time (run ragged as it was) but I also felt her relief especially because all the things she had been telling me were happening while I was at work and Lisa had them were no longer a factor
I don’t know if it was that day or days later but Tiffany locked her self in the closet and would not come out, that didn’t freak me out so much, because regardless of how “tough and strong” she had proved to be she was a 14 year old girl. But when she finally came out she absolutely scared the fuck out of me.
Tiffany came out to the garage and was stock still at first, I just sat there and waited, (I had been listening to phone recordings from the phone tap my lawyer told me was fine to do) I had been worried about her but I wasn’t shocked or scared I knew she was bound to crack somewhat, hell I was pretty, stressed cracked and exhausted.
Tiffany began to talk, she was talking fast and breathing hard it wasn’t gibberish but I wasn’t following her. She came to a point where she said “I think I need my medication… I think that’s what is wrong with me (something to this effect)”. That gave me pause and at that time she directed me the box full of drugs. I listened to more of what she had to say and I think I got her to eat something.
I’ve covered the next week or three so many times in so many iterations that it makes my head feel like it’s going to pop.
So tiffany was flipped way out. Her behavior was so unexpected and so out of character that it literally (I mean literally, I was exhausted and beyond stressed before this hit) almost scared me to death.
The whole of everything came crashing in and among all my other thoughts of possible causes for Tiffany’s apparent psychotic break was the pressure she had been under for so long finally blew out her circuits and I felt totally responsible for that because I was just at this point coming to grips with how insane the past couple of years with Lisa really were and how far I had let it go and indeed thinking I had subjected the kids to way too much due to my protracted period of inaction. I also realized that Tiffany had taken the brunt of it all, not just because Lisa was knocking the snot out of her but I had misgivings about how much I had involved her in things that really were over her head.
Then there the other possible causes I considered: Drug withdrawal, Drug reaction, Just temporary nuts because of the stress, She was faking it for attention, and God forbid, permanently nuts proving Lisa’s case and we were screwed… Yeah Tiffany was out of her mind for a while.
Narrative for Investigators by Daniel Colegrove Continued Here