The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter by Melissa G. Moore with M. Bridget Cook
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Throughout her life, Melissa Jesperson Moore had to hide her true identity. She had pretended that life was perfect after her parents divorced and she was suddenly uprooted from everything familiar and loving. She had to be silent, and to pretend not to be disturbed or upset by her father's actions. Those experiences prepared Melissa to hide the deepest, darkest secret of all. As she began making different choices, building a successful and loving life on her own, her heart began to fill with rays of hope, though she could never quite rid herself of the dark shadow of secrecy and shame. Then one day, her beautiful, innocent daughter looked into her eyes and said, "Mommy, everybody's got a daddy. Where's your daddy?" Shattered Silence is an astonishing, true narrative of personal and spiritual transformation. From her secret life as "the daughter of The Happy Face Serial Murderer" to a woman that bared her soul and inspired millions, Melissa leads the reader on the vulnerable, compelling, and sometimes very raw journey of what it took to shatter the silence, and claim her own life.
For most people who know me, I have a long list of books waiting to be read - I have books for review that have been sent to me by publishers and authors and there are public library books I just enjoy reading. With the economy in such bad shape, I haven't been buying as many books as before and I keep a separate list of books I want to add to my home library. Shattered Silence doesn't fit into any of these categories. Shattered Silence is a book that screamed at me from the rack at Wal-Mart, demanding to be taken home and read. In a moment of weakness, I plunked down my hard earned cash to buy my first book in ages, and a book by an unknown author at that. I was not disappointed.
I've long wondered about the families of men convicted of murder, especially serial murder. Shattered Silence is the story of one child who lived through the torment of a severely dysfunctional. Melissa Jesperson is a young girl of five when we meet her at the beginning of this story. She is the oldest of 3 children - stairsteps like myself with a younger brother and a still younger sister. Melissa loved her daddy and all she wanted at that point in her young life was his unconditional love.
But how to you bounce back after your father hangs your "babies" on a clothesline to die - 4 tiny kittens, vulnerable and needing constant care - senselessly killed for no reason. This was just the beginning of Melissa's life. Through the years she would learn to come to grips with her parent's traumatic separation, the constant worry over having enough food to eat or even clothes to wear, a new step-father (not much improvement) and overseeing the care of her younger siblings.
Melissa was forced to grow up sooner than most children, all the while trying to protect her brother and sister. Although they had lived in four different places the first five years of her life, Melissa was unprepared for the move to her maternal grandmothers house - a smaller house and almost instant poverty. The family survived, moved on to new phases, but with every step forward, there always seemed to be a step back. It turned into a vicious cycle that was hard to break. And through it all, Melissa still wanted the love and approval of her daddy.
I think one of the most heartbreaking parts of this book is cocoon Melissa's mother weaved around her life. She was a doormat and continually took the easy way out which continued to propel her down a path of destruction she couldn't protect her children from. I feel sorry for victims and their circumstances, but I don't feel sorry for victims who won't help themselves - the was Melissa's mother.
Before you go and think this book is full of horrific things this woman lived through - and yes, they were horrific - that is not the main focus of this book. This book is like a beckoning lighthouse to other families - families who contain horrible people. This is a book about hope and believing in yourself in order to keep yourself alive. My heart goes out to this family and I feel such inspiration in the progress Melissa has gone to improve the quality of her life. She brings meaning to the phrase, "You reap what you sow" - she was finally able to sow the seeds of love, compassion and empathy and her life has improved for the better. Her father is still a convicted serial killer who will spend the rest of his life in jail, but that is only a small portion of her life. She can't overlook it and she can't take the blame for it, but she must learn to live with it - and it is the way she has chosen to live her life that is the remarkable story.
As heart wrenching as this memoir was to read, reading and researching Keith Hunter Jesperson left a foul taste in my mouth. This was a truly evil and sick man, and to realize this author came out as whole as she did is a true testament of of her convictions to lead a different kind of life.
Although I enjoyed this book, my biggest complaint is it should have had a better editor. Many of the thoughts and stories were disjointed and there were numerous typos. That being said, this didn't impede me from reading this book cover to cover in one sitting.
For more information on this book, check out the Shattered Silence website.
I did not know until I started reading this book, but Melissa G. Moore has been featured on both Dr. Phil and Oprah.