Mothers and Murders Sample - Audio Book

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Attached is an audio sample of the book titled, Mothers and Murders.

Vocal Characteristics



Voice Age

Young Adult (18-35)


North American (General)


Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
mothers and murders. A true story of love, lies, obsession and second chances. Written by Katherine Ellison narrated by Casey chance. What allows some people to hurt others without conscience or remorse? As a journalist, I've interviewed many textbook villains from a death squad leader in el Salvador to Filipino officials who stole billions in government funds to a Chilean secret police chief who oversaw the torture and mass killings of thousands of dissidents. What all of them shared was a combination of entitlement and self absorption that is often labeled narcissism. Narcissists think they're special, more important than others and entitled to do what they want no matter whom they hurt. Some are convinced they serve a higher purpose. Some feel free to harm others out of a belief that they've been victims. The worst of them are easy to hate. What's harder is to face the less barbaric self absorption we so often see in our families, in our workplaces and if we're being honest in the mirror, the kind that doesn't murder or maim but may still leave scars. Narcissism like heat or light or autism fits on a spectrum. Most of us are at least a little self centered now and then move along the line and you'll find such annoying behaviors is taking credit for other people's ideas, boasting about the size of one's body parts and tweeting one's every thought. It's here. You'll also start to meet the sort of wounded people who unintentionally wound others trapped in a cycle that can last for generations only at the farthest end of the spectrum do we find the certifiable illness known as narcissistic personality disorder. More than 16 million Americans reportedly meet the criteria for this diagnosis. Among them are those iconic rogues who manipulate, exploit and destroy others without shame. Everybody loves a narcissist, at least theoretically. The ancient Greeks warned about the risks of too much self love and the story of Narcissus, the handsome youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond and by varying accounts, pined away or drowned. The bible is full of tirades against vanity and praise for humility. Today there's even a Wikipedia page devoted to the annual worldwide injuries and deaths related to the use of selfie sticks, hundreds of internet sites, blogs and books dole out advice on coping with hopelessly self centered bosses, lovers and spouses, but somehow we keep getting hurt by them. My interest in the subject began early on in my career after I was assigned to report on one of the most bizarre and high profile murder cases in the history of California Silicon Valley. My involvement in the case changed me, not least by pushing me into psychotherapy, where I was obliged at first unwillingly to confront my own unique variety of self absorption among other things, I realized how tempting it can be to find someone or something else to blame for your own bad behavior. Look closely enough after all, and almost everyone deserves a little sympathy. Each of us is at least partly the product of all sorts of influences beyond our control from genes to parenting to peer pressure. Still in the midst of covering the murder case, I kept wondering about the line between explanation and justification when if ever should we stop trying to understand and even sympathize with someone else's hurtful behavior and simply condemn it or punish it or if it's ours own up to it and do whatever it takes to change the murder story which began in 1981 and is still having repercussions today featured several extraordinary characters including two hapless hitman, a flamboyant Beverly hills attorney, a rodeo riding prosecutor and a woman who initially seemed to be as far as anyone could be from a narcissist. This was judy singer, a 32 year old stay at home mother of three and former religious studies major who volunteered at her synagogue in her spare time judy was the ex wife of the murder victim. She was also the wife of the man on trial for killing him. Her story would haunt me for more than three decades. Chapter one San Jose July 1981. In the summer of 1981 santa Clara County looked nothing like its future as the hub of the soon to be famous Silicon Valley. No google, no facebook, no traffic jams or zagat rated restaurants. The coming tech explosion was still a slow burn and the fertile basin bounded by the Diablo and santa cruz mountains. 50 miles south of san Francisco was little more than a stretch of urban and rural sprawl dotted with plum and apricot orchards, tourist brochures called it the Valley of the Heart's delight. No one had a cell phone. Coffee was served black or with cream homes were affordable in newspapers were profitable. Title nine banning gender based discrimination in schools was less than a decade old. The equal rights amendment still had a fighting chance at 23 years old and my shag haircut and shoulder padded jacket. I must have looked like a billboard for that air is female ambition. I felt like 12 until the hot summer morning when I first heard the news that changed everything for me, I was sipping a tab and frowning at the dim green screen of the monitor of my coyote word processor. When Bill Melcher burst through the glass double doors of the santa Clara County press room, all four of us reporters in the room turned our heads. The Beverly Hills Defense attorney was a spicy departure from our normally bland diet of blue blazer. Reticent county bureaucrats. Bill wore tailored european suits chomped on a pipe and seemed to love nothing more than telling us about his client robert bob Singer, the owner of a michigan franchise restaurant bob singer was on trial and facing the death penalty charged with murder for hire in a case that was pure reader. Catnip. The victim, an heir to a prominent and wealthy local family had only recently been married to singer's wife judy. All that would have spiced to lend my stories on the front page of the san Jose Mercury where I'd been working for less than a year in my first full time job. But Bill had been telling us throughout the pre trial hearings that there was more to be revealed the case, he assured us was no mere tawdry family drama, but an epic saga involving shadowy, vengeful drug mobs who had framed his innocent client. It's the trial of the century Bill declared right here in san Jose. I longed to believe him callously hoping all those front page stories would speed my promotion to a job as a foreign correspondent. A career I had dreamed of since the age of 13 covering the news from distant lands was the most romantic and meaningful work I could imagine, even though very few women were doing it, those were years when most female reporters were stuck covering society or education miraculously, however, the foreign assignment had coveted for so long, finally seemed within my reach, newly ambitious and flush with cash. After a merger with the national newspaper chain, The Mercury had recently opened a new bureau in Mexico City. I spoke spanish sort of and had built up my resume since high school when I edited the school newspaper, after which I interned at Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy magazine Washington post and Newsweek. My editors prized my energy imagination and reliable willingness to work night after night of overtime without ever trying to charge for it. They'd even seemed willing to overlook a few clumsy recent mistakes, a name misspelled here, the wrong date there. To my delight. One editor had recently told me that I was a top candidate for the Mexico job at my age. As he acknowledged that would be a meteoric rise as long as I didn't blow it. The singer's story was sure to help, which made me doubly glad to see Bill Melcher heading toward my cubicle. I stood up to greet him, but he didn't return my smile as he looked down to rummage in his briefcase, he pulled out a staple set of papers. Perhaps it was another one of his outlandish press releases. Maybe this time he'd come to give me a scoop. I smiled more broadly. Bill still didn't smile back. I'm sorry, Kathy! He said as he handed me the papers. It took me a moment to recognize that he was giving me a summons to a civil suit for libel Bob Singer's wife Judy was suing the Mercury and me for $11 million. The suit was a shock, but the reason for it wasn't two weeks earlier, the city editor had called me at home to point out a mistake I'd made in a story published that morning, July 16 on the prosecutor's closing argument. His call caught me just as I was leaving for work. Cradling the phone on my neck in the kitchen of my tiny studio apartment. I gazed at the brightening sky through the window over the sink. This is a big deal he began. The error was way down in the 10th paragraph of the story and might well have gone unnoticed. Had judy singer not called to complain. I suppose she had good reason. I'd misquoted the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Jack Marshall as having said that judy and robert singer had plotted to kill judy's former spouse. If true, that would have meant that judy together with her husband was guilty of criminal conspiracy to murder. But judy had not been charged with any crime. My first thought was to suspect someone else had messed up. Maybe Jack Marshall had said it or if he hadn't, he certainly suggested it. His whole closing argument had focused on judy and some dispute she'd been having with her ex. And what about the copy editor? Shouldn't he have caught my air. The editor was still talking throughout my life. I've had an unfortunate habit of letting my own nervous soundtrack drown out the rest of the world. But I tuned back in again in time to hear him say, make sure to check your notes. Alas, I knew that wasn't going to help Jack Marshall would never have been so careless to have spoken the words I'd written the Mercury published a correction the next day and I burned from seeing my screw up so publicly exposed. Still, I figured that was the end of it and I'd be able to move on just as I had. After all, my previous albeit smaller mistakes, judy suit told me just how wrong that was. I read her list of charges as I stood frozen under the fluorescent lights of the press room breathing its scent of tobacco and sweat. She claimed my error had exposed her to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy making her unemployable in any field whatsoever possibly forever. She accused me in the newspaper of malice, an essential ingredient of a successful libel suit saying we published the mistake either with knowledge of its falsity or with a reckless disregard as to whether it was true, it would take me some time to appreciate how someone else in my situation, someone more mature and less self absorbed might have paused then even for an instant to consider how her carelessness had harmed an innocent woman's reputation. But that didn't cross my mind. I was too busy worrying about my career. Audios to the Mexico job. Just for starters, I figured, but maybe worse maybe I'd be fired and never find another job in journalism malice. My face felt hot. What a groundless accusation or was it? I couldn't deny the strange mix of emotions I'd come to feel toward judi singer in some striking of superficial ways. She resembled my mother, another upper middle class jewish native midwesterner who like judy had married at 19, stayed home to make her Children her life's work and even volunteered for the same good cause had asA the national jewish woman's fundraising group. I adored my mother. So at first all of this made me feel friendly towards judy and she'd been friendly right back. She'd always been happy to talk when I asked her to comment on the case, praising me at one point in her flat michigan accent for a writing style she said was so clear and concise, but at the same time I resented her. She embodied a way of life that I hoped I was finally vanishing and which I desperately wanted to escape with her high heels, bleach blonde hair and flirty smiles at every man in the room. She seemed ripped from the pages of the total woman, the 19 seventies blockbuster anti feminist bestseller that famously implied that wives should greet their husbands at the front door nude and swathed in saran wrap women like judy as I believed all too willingly appeased powerful men, even men who were violent and abusive. My own mother had never stood up to my father when he drank and beat up my brothers and judy's behavior was significantly worse evidence strongly suggested that bob singer, her second husband had killed her first husband, the father of her Children and yet there she was blowing kisses to bob in the courtroom. But now here comes the crazy part. I also envied her despite her sordid circumstances. With one husband murdered and the other on trial for his life, judy radiated pampered self confidence. A big diamond flashed on her finger. Her thin knit summer dress clung to her barbie doll hips and her tote bag marked LV for louis Vuitton screams status that year, long before the cheap chinese knockoffs flooded the market. My own purse was a five year old blacklist sports sack. I was chronically £10 overweight. And while I never have said it aloud, I wouldn't have mind owning a nice big diamond ring to prove to the world how much some man cared for me. Bill Melcher must have wondered why it stood there silent for so long now. He was turning toward the door. Should I grab his legs, beg him to reconsider. Instead, I glanced behind me to meet the cool stairs of the three or four other reporters in the press room. They weren't close enough to hear a conversation and probably thought I'd gotten the scoop. Only after judy singer sued me did I realized I had to figure out the reasons for my growing string of errors or lose my career. That's how I ended up in therapy. Where as hard as I initially fought against it, I had to face. Other issues. I hadn't even suspected were problems such as why after libeling judy, my first thought was to think I was the victim for decades to come judy and her lawsuit would inspire me to wonder about this and other aspects of unhealthy self absorption in the short term. They made me want to know a lot more about her ex husband's murder. Chapter two Santa Clara California, March 1980. On the afternoon of friday, March 21st of 1980 the last day of Howard Wickens short life, he sat in his private office at the half lin Witkin picture and mirror Corporation composing a brief letter to his three kids Danny, 10 Marie, 13 and two year old Nathan were living with his ex wife, judi singer in michigan dear dan the man Marie, the ski Nate, the skate howard typed on office stationery. I've missed you a lot but I've been very busy. I've missed you a lot but I've been very busy. Your grandpa Burnett came in to see your Zadie and me today. He looks pretty good. So does your aunt millie. I'm going to caramel for the weekend with bob and Kathy gary and Lynne and Stephanie. So I have to run because they are all waiting for me in the car