Monday, December 8, 2008

Shattered Bonds

I found "Shattered Bonds" by Cindy Band and Julie Malear a truly riveting true crime story. Imagine being 16 coming home from a summer party, fearing your father's wrath, because you were going to miss curfew by 15 minutes, to see 5 patrol cars with flashing lights surrounding your house. Cindy thinks the cops are there just having coffee, only to learn her mother fell down the basement steps and died.

From photo's in the book it is obvious Cindy's mom did not fall down the stairs. There were thin ropes around her body and ligature marks around the deceased woman's wrists and ankles. That is part of the scene that the police called to the home saw that fateful night. An autopsy report said Mrs. Band cause of death was "undetermined". Sounds strange; if the fall killed her, would not there be a severe head injury? Internal bleeding?

It took many years before Cindy's father would be arrested, tried and found guilty of murdering his wife. Due to her age, Cindy was at the mercy of her father. She felt guilty about suspecting of killing her mom. She was also terrified of his raging temper. At one point he strangles her, causing her to become unconscious. She too, might have died if someone had not alerted 911.

Yet Cindy had to remain living with the man, until she married an immigrant without a green card and moved into her husband's apartment. The husband had to return to Yugoslavia, despite being legally married to a U.S. citizen. Cindy's father sold their home to move to Florida and: "He told her that, since her marriage was over and she had to give up the apartment, she would soon be homeless."

Even though she was now 18, she felt she had no choice but to move to Florida with her father and step-mother. Cindy's older sister thought her naive for not realizing dad had been having an affair when he brought the lady into Cindy's life two weeks after her mother died, marrying her within a year. After dad almost killed her, she returned to New York. Detectives in the ongoing investigation of her father got money from the DA's office to put her up in a hotel, because: "Now she was virtually homeless."

The step-mother told her she had a friend where Cindy could live. She could not stay in the hotel indefinitely. The friend did not have a phone number. Cindy would learn later that the step-mother had tricked her. Cindy was looking for the friend at the Meadowlark Hospital complex's "nurses residence" and asked a woman where it was. The woman took Cindy into a waiting room and grilled her, which Cindy found strange, but: "She didn't want the woman to think she was a random homeless person just in off the street." ...so she politely answers her questions. The woman finally escorts Cindy down a hall telling a man behind a desk: "This is Cindy Band. Her guardian was here yesterday..." Seems her father had arranged to have Cindy admitted to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

The nightmare that began the night of that party kept getting worse! People who yell, "get a job" out of car windows, or label homeless people "lazy, bums" might do well to read "Shattered Bonds". Cindy was lucky she never ended up living on the streets. I met people who did end up on them after a nightmare they could not escape from changed their normal lives forever. (10/20/08)

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