A “Shattered Family” – Melchert-Dinkel’s Forgotten Victims?

Thank you for putting into words what I believe to be so true. He lives in the town I live in and it is a disgrace. My children went to school with his kids and they are paying for it. I hope the best for the kids. He needs to be in prison. He is a danger to society.

Lisa (RE Nov. 9th post PI News Special: Melchert-Dinkel Counseled and then Watched via Webcam as 16 Year Old Girl Cut Herself)

By all indications, both Mari and Molly Melchert-Dinkel appear to be typical teenagers growing up in small town U.S.A.

From being active in sports such as baseball and volleyball, making the local high school’s Grade 9 Honor Roll and sharing the normal angst-filled musings associated with the awkward years between childhood and adulthood on a favored social networking site, one would be hard pressed to distinguish William Melchert-Dinkel’s daughters from any other Faribault, Minnesota teenager.

Unfortunately, and in line with their mother Joyce Melchert-Dinkel’s tearful lament that upon being made aware of her husband’s actions “Our family was shattered that night,” the two young girls are existing in a world that is anything but normal.

While we cannot lose sight of the significant and lasting damage that Melchert-Dinkel’s quest to satiate his perverted obsession with death and suicide has inflicted on the families of Nadia Kajouji and Mark Drybrough, it is also important to recognize the fact that the consequences of his ruinous conduct were also reflected back on his own family, and in particular his daughters.

This was of course a sentiment expressed by Faribault resident Lisa Hullett in her comment regarding my November 9th post, and one that I am certain is shared by the majority of people who have been following this story.

Looking beyond the emotional impact, what can a child do under such unusual and trying circumstances?  Especially when given the natural inclination to look to a parent for comfort and reassurance, only to discover that the parent is actually the source of their pain and embarrassment.

In the March 30th, 2007 article “Son of a Serial Killer: Exclusive Interview with John Gore, Son of Convicted Murderer David Gore” the son of the former sheriffs deputy in Indian River County, who was convicted for 6 murders (although authorities suspect that the number could be as high a 50), was asked “what kind of advice would you give to people or children who are going through what you have, who are dealing with either dads or moms who have committed these type of crimes, to help them get by?”

In a response that may be as much defiant posturing as it is a frank reflection of his true feelings, John Gore said that he “would tell them to listen to themselves, don’t listen to what others tell them. If someone is telling you to hate them; don’t, make your own judgment. Don’t just not hate them, don’t hate anyone when someone tells you to, or because someone else wants you to. I think you have to do what you want to do in this situation. That’s what makes a person unique is being able to have that choice.”

Without a doubt all children as they enter their teen years seek to carve out their own unique place in the world that is separate from that of their parents’ world, while still reconciling themselves to the values of life they witnessed and were taught during their formative years.

In the case of John Gore, the fact that he was by his own words very young when his father’s crimes came to public light may to a certain degree have helped to shelter him, but living in a small town nonetheless presented numerous challenges.  “It was pretty hard every where I went when people found out my last name was Gore people knew exactly who I was and exactly what my family’s history was,” the younger Gore recounted to the interviewer.  “It basically continued on with me,” making reference to the fact that local police kept a close watch on both he and his brother’s movements as the town was “hellbent that this would never happen again,” and that “they were willing to do almost anything to keep it from happening again.”

Even though the crimes committed by David Gore involved local victims, as opposed to the victims of Melchert-Dinkel who lived far way – in one case across the Atlantic, I would doubt that the trauma and subsequent scrutiny is any less invasive and hurtful.  Perhaps in some ways, it is even more challenging in that this case is playing itself out on a global stage for many reasons including the fact that the ultimate verdict will have far reaching consequences in how we view crimes committed over the Internet.

In some instances , such as in the case of the daughter of Keith Hunter Jesperson who is known as the infamous “Happy Face” serial killer, separation by becoming “something other than my father’s daughter” meant focusing on how she could make herself “a better person.”

As told in the Melissa G. Moore book Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter,” Jesperson’s 15 year-old daughter was “consumed with guilt and shame for his horrific actions,” and for years, would “have nightmares of him showing up at her door.”

A big reason for her ability to finally escape the shadow of such a notorious father, is that she learned to move on by choosing instead to  concentrate “on being a wife and mother.”   This meant that she had to stop “wasting precious energy thinking about my father” as she realized that she “had no control over what he did,” and “that there was nothing she could do to change it.”

Even though she dreads the day “when I have to tell my children about their grandfather,”  she is no longer haunted by her own past indicating that she has learned that we are not a product of our circumstances in life,  but are instead free to decide our own future.

Besides knowing that they are not alone in their experience, these are perhaps valuable lessons through which both Mari and Molly Melchert-Dinkel can find some degree of immediate peace and eventually a longer term reconciliation with the unimaginable actions of a parent.

Remember to use the following link to access our complete coverage of the Melchert-Dinkel case.

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