By all appearances she was a simple-living, but not simple-minded woman who married in her teens to a hard working young man several years older than her. She never finished high school and pursued no further formal education except to devote herself to her marriage and the young family they were going to raise together.
Yes, by all appearances she was a simple-living woman, but not a very happy one, living in a rural community where her loud, extroverted, and quite successful husband ran a small farm, and dealt with pulp wood. He could do carpentry as well but his main work came from the land. His success was the result of a controlling personality but the flip-side of his success coin was that it included his wife and family. He was smart in his own way.
She, by all appearances, had nothing to want for, or so people thought, until she was seen one day hanging by the clothes on her back on a hook attached to the side of his barn where she remained for five hours -- during the month of July -- alive of course but having been instructed not to scream for help or he would’ve taught her another lesson. You would’ve thought someone passing would have pulled in from the nearby country road to assist her, or at least reported it to the county authorities -- but no one did, and so she hung.
It was a cruel thing to do to any woman, of any age, much more one’s wife and mother of five children, as really the only marital sin she’d ever committed, according to him, was to have his dinner cool off before he arrived as he said he would, her having it on the table in plenty of time.
She and he attended their small church services every Sunday, participating in the church services, she singing and teaching, and he sometimes playing an instrument. But she was never allowed to socialize with the other ladies much after church hours because when he said he was ready for lunch, it was time to return home at that very moment and fix lunch.
For lunch, and for any other meal they ever ate at home, she and the girls were never allowed to eat meat because it was the men and the boys who did the hard work, so he decreed. So on some occasions when she was allowed to use his truck to go into town (she was never allowed to own a car) she would take the girls and treat them to a hamburger and fries in town and use what was left over from the $40 allowance for food he gave her to buy food for the week -- and hoped he wouldn’t bother to check the receipt, because if things didn’t add up or she was caught “wasting” money on meat for them, the wife and girls, then she would have hell to pay.
The “hell to pay” was never seen by any others, and she made that a certainty, since she was always seen wearing long sleeves, and turtle neck tops, even in the summer to hide the almost ever-present bruises on her arms and legs. If they had been told, this would’ve seemed incredulous to fellow churchgoers who admired him for the work he did in the community, and for his church, which actually was indeed a fact. It was amazing how he could for so long be Jekyll at work and Hyde at church. It wouldn’t have ever crossed their minds though that this was a man who conducted his marriage with the merged disciplinary skills of a combat sergeant and slave master with a little manic thrown in for good measure, or so some town folks claimed.
Their personalities were like night and day which made one wonder why and how they ever met and what they saw in each other to want to be married to the other. She’d wanted to escape her family. And he, apparently, needing a mate who could be manipulated and used.
For over twenty-five years she tolerated this crap until one day, her children now grown and out of the house, she decided she’d had enough. Her reason to tolerate it was long gone and he wasn’t changing. So she confided in a childhood friend her situation and he told her he had already known for sometime how he had been treating her but didn’t want her to feel he was intruding. He thought the sordid arrangement was disgusting. She shared that she couldn’t take it any longer but didn’t know how to get out of it. Felt trapped. She was tired. She was hurt. And she was through, this quiet woman who never missed a church service in her life, in spite of those times when she hurt too bad to go.
Her friend sympathized with her and asked her if he wanted her to take care of it for her -- to which she quietly nodded her head. So he proceeded to arrange it. He enlisted the help of a friend who was in need of money and so the plan was set.
She called her sympathizer on the morning the plan was to be executed to let him know he was on the property and he in turn contacted the one who would be doing the justice beating. The perpetrator drove onto the husband’s property in a beat-up pick-up truck and approached the farmer on the pretense of selling pulpwood. When he was within striking distance the Perp reached behind his back, pulled out a tire iron and in one lightening blow struck the farmer on his head. He fell to ground but was alive. The Perp then proceeded in like kind to beat the farmer with the tire iron until he the Perp came up for air and saw a large branch the size and thickness of a baseball bat lying nearby. He picked it up and resumed to levy blow after blow upon the farmer’s head, torso, arms, and legs, beyond that moment when the man, who had before now been in complete control of his life, had expired. Then he gathered up his tire iron, the branch, and his hat, which had flown off his head in the process, walked to his truck and drove away, remorseless and self-satisfied that justice had prevailed.
When two local journalists were investigating the case one said it reminded him of when he read about how in times way back when the KKK would sometimes send a threesome over to discipline a white alcoholic husband who had been abusing his wife and kids, the lesson being this is no way to raise a family or treat your wife. But the journalists, either ignoring the real story behind the killing or yet oblivious to it, proceeded to extol the virtues of the deceased in their write-ups, all of it of course being fairly true, but yet incomplete. For the paradox was the inability to validate the now community-wide knowledge of what brought this woman to this sad point in her life. She had never registered a legal complaint for fear of reprisal.
Most would agree that no man deserves to die in such a manner but one would probably get a different opinion down at the Gulf Coast Center for Battered Women, or at the very least lack there any sympathy at all for the manner in which this man, or such a man might receive his just deserts, according to them.
There’s always two sides to every story and the story about how a woman, trapped into frequent beatings, prays for deliverance every day to the point of losing her mind, and then begins to pray that her husband would soon die. It’s a pathological mystery as to why a man chooses or finds it necessary to physically beat his wife regularly while she tolerates and accepts such a life without, seemingly, motivation to make the change. You wonder if for both they harbor something on the order of a high-functioning mental illness from which either cannot change or escape -- until, sadly, too often the remedy is death. How can a community help such a woman? Or can it?