From Survivor to Advocate with Kris Pedretti

Kris Pedretti was victim 10. At that time, the East Area Rapist had barely been acknowledged as a repeat offender. Kris was 15, a church girl who was incredibly innocent and extremely good-hearted. Within 90 minutes, Joseph DeAngelo (DNA guilty) stole her innocence and changed the course of her life. And yet, she’s moved from being a survivor to being an advocate.

It’s taken her over forty years to tell her story.

When I first met her, we just connected. She, along with Carol Daly, essentially became the Den Mothers for a group of survivors who honestly never expected to come together in the way we have (Kris’ backyard is my little heaven). That’s due, in part, to the generosity and empathy that is core to who Kris is. She’s my Sacramento bestie and she’s telling her story – with confidence – as she becomes an advocate for other victims of abuse who haven’t had to courage to tell their stories.

Her private Facebook group is available to victims and allies. You can find it here.

Or listen to the podcast

ELI Assessment 50% off

 

So Now What? Kavanaugh, Trauma, Healing and Moving Forward

I have this fantasy of buying one of those sheds from Home Depot and having a friend sheet rock the thing, add some electricity and then make it the most girly place possible (that’s my taste, romantic, soft, flowery). There’d be a super big comfy chair, a laptop desk and it would smell like spring rain. And nobody will be able to find me. (The cover photo is where Roald Dahl wrote.)

Shortly after DeAngelo was arrested, a woman reached out to me who was sure he was her rapist. During the attack, her took her driver’s license. Her fear of him returning was so great, she left the state and lived quietly nearly 3,000 miles away – always looking over her shoulder, always wary of his return. She described herself as an introvert who rarely shared her experience with anyone.

This week, she sent me an email. The joy in her writing was evident. She was back in Orange County, she’d met with investigators there. She was even going to meet Orange County D.A. Investigator, Erika Hutchcraft (I’m jealous). I haven’t heard from her since, but what she said today made me cry! Because it was so beautiful. She thanked me and said,

“you listened and heard me, you stuck with me…”

I mean nothing, nothing could have gotten my attention more than these beautiful words.

The future of America sits on a precipice. The end goal is to divide us.

My goodness, I’m the last one to get all rose colored glasses and saccharine about things, but overall I’m an optimist. I love what John Legend said that about himself last night. If you watch the clip, he explains, “…I see a lot of opportunity for change [on the state and local level] even though I’m often frustrated by what’s happening nationally.” I have to say, this touched me. It stayed with me last night and today.

I have realized I have no control about what happens with the Supreme Court.

I was triggered, as were so many, by the rage demonstrated last week in the highest levels of our government. I truly had no opinion of Kavanaugh prior to his testimony – other than my political leanings, but I’m a grown-up, I know we are all different. Then he came to testify last Thursday. As he yelled and raged and obfuscated and lied (“it’s like quarters” – we aren’t idiots dude), my reaction to him came from the gut.

Clearly I am not alone.

I understand it’s hard for some guys to get this, but having a man rage at you is terrifying. God forbid it connects with any body memories, because that fight or flight instinct kicks in super fast. Heartbeat goes up, nerve endings start to twitch; I hear a roar in my head that is accompanied by this weird pressure. It’s kind of like having an earache and a headache and kind of not. The reaction is freaking out of our control and anyone with PTSD, male or female, understands. Anyone with trauma, understands.

But that’s not what this blog is about. 

This blog is about that beautiful sentence sent to me today. The gift I gave was unbelievable easy.

No matter what happens, we are still all neighbors*. Sure the guy down the street is an ass. But if his house burns down, I’m going to pitch in. Yes, the woman in the store seems rather racist, but if her kid runs toward the street, I’m going to grab for the kid. I’m convinced we can manage a lot of this crap locally. Individually. With our own actions.

And I want to share one example of what I mean.

When Black Lives Matter started, I took a look at my own behavior. Because I’m a compulsive talker in stores (again, this is why Katie won’t shop with me), I realized I had a pattern of who I would chat with: mostly white people. I didn’t know I was doing this, but once I was self-aware, I realized it was true.

That Christmas, I started talking to people not like me.

For example, someone of a different race, age, ethnic background; basically not a Rubenesque (see what I did there), short, white, mom who thinks she’s still cool. I started this two years ago and I’m still on board. Let me tell you what, it’s been awesome! My M.O. is to try and get people to smile or laugh and I’m proud to say, diversity pays! I am still stunned by how often I can get someone to smile or chat – even when they are incredibly different from me.

The point is don’t let them divide us. Reach out, listen, and hang in there. Observe your own patterns. See if there are adjustments you can make. I’d love to hear your stories. Anything positive. Now’s the time.

 

*I’m going to add a caveat because I’m not saying go adopt a white supremacist. I trust you understand my intent.

Open Letter to the Male Survivors of the East Area Rapist

I’m not sure I want to know what happened inside my dad’s house. Larry Pool shared a lot with me and I know they both went through hell. But the way the story goes in my head, my dad was bound and as Charlene was being led away, I know his mind was reeling. After the shock of being caught off guard passed, I can feel his brain racing to figure out how to get free. Both my dad and Charlene were fighters. He would have considered what was on his night table or in the drawer. He would have strained against the bindings to do something, anything, to help her. Like I said, I don’t want to know if that didn’t happen. I need to believe this is what happened.

Yesterday I wrote about the strength of the female survivors. But the truth is, there are male victims as well.

I can’t imagine the cognitive dissonance those men felt as they balance their own survival instinct with the need to protect their loved ones. They were trapped, struggling with the pain of being bound. They could hear their wives or daughters being hurt. One man died trying to protect his daughter. I don’t know if he’s been officially included by law enforcement, but for those of us who are involved, we include Claude Snelling as another victim.

Add your voice to the story.

As I struggle to understand the complex feelings a woman can feel after being attacked, I can only imagine how it must feel to be the dad, the husband, the boyfriend. The rage and powerlessness my dad felt must have been mind-blowing. I’m not sure our brains were meant to handle this kind of conflict.

We haven’t heard from the men in this story. I’d very much like to. I will keep your story confidential if you choose, but I’d like to share the experience and how your path to healing has worked – or not worked. It’s as simple as sending me an email at jennifer at jcarole.com.

I’m hoping we can all learn from this. Understanding how the men have dealt with this in the last 40 years is just another step in our healing.

 

For 30 Years He Lived Among Us

In Silicon Valley it’s not cool to be old. It should be, but it isn’t. What’s old? 40. 50. For sure 56 is and that’s how old I am. Who knew it would be the arrest of DeAngelo that would out me to my co-workers! I have an 18 year old still living at home so at least I’m hip (except saying hip isn’t hip) and I can name every One Direction guy. I can also move it to Uptown Funk (don’t tell the kids it reminds me of The Time from Purple Rain). 

For thirty years he got to live his life.

He watched TV, raised three daughters, saw the arrival of his grandchild. He ate hamburgers (without cheese, we aren’t trying to kill him – please see quote from Charlene at Charlie’s Cafe). I keep thinking about this because for those of us who had family members killed, 30 years is a long time. It’s enough time to forget how they smelled and how their skin felt. It’s enough time to stop thinking of them every day.

Ironically, as a rape survivor, I fear time works differently.  Thirty years is not enough time to forget how he smelled. Not enough to forget how he felt. And certainly not enough time to stop thinking of him every day.

A call with a stranger breaks my heart.

I had the honor today of talking with a woman who thinks she was raped by DeAngelo. She was watching 20/20 when she first learned about the arrest. She saw DeAngelo for the first time. These are my words describing her reaction, but it was like her body memory kicked in. She knew that was the guy. There’s part of her that needs evidence to support her intuition and memory, but the rest of her is sure.

But here’s what else can happen in 30 years. It makes me sick because her story is like many others. Her file has been lost. The evidence was destroyed. There might not be a way to know if he was her attacker. Why? Probably because the statute of limitations expired and the municipality wanted to clean out things that were no longer needed. Meanwhile, she has lived in fear. As a 20-year old young woman, she believed she had only one option: to change her name and move away. She’s lived in a form of self-imposed isolation, afraid he would find her.

Thirty years is about 1,500 hamburgers consumed. Thirty years is 60 property tax payments, 90+ birthday celebrations with his daughters, at least 120 fishing trips, and based on two cans a day, more than 20K cans of beer. DeAngelo didn’t suffer.

But thirty years for just one woman has meant constant fear, anxiety and separation from the home she knew.

This bastard needs to suffer.

Another Big Week Coming in Sacramento – Patton Oswalt and the Golden State Killer

It was a total fluke. I flipped on the TV and Patton Oswalt was just walking on stage with Conan O’Brien. I never watch late night TV but I could tell Conan was being remarkable. Something was happening. I didn’t know about Michelle MacNamara. I didn’t know she was working on a book or had even written for LA Magazine about our crimes. But I did see real agony as Patton worked his way through the interview. I couldn’t believe the GSK had taken another victim.

Next week in Sacramento looks interesting. 

The hearing is Tuesday morning at 8:30 (new rule, can we please do 10 for those of us who travel?). I expect the same drill as last time but I did ask Victim Services if we can sit where we’d like this time. I don’t like the idea of JJD predicting our behavior (we are using initials for DeAngelo because most of us can barely stand to type his name). I want to keep him on his toes – his lawyers too.

For any survivors and their friends who plan to be in the courtroom, you’re invited to join me for a private get together – coffee – just to talk and get to know one another. I figure we have a long journey ahead and knowing one another might help. If you are coming to court and would like to get together afterward, please send me an email. I want to keep the media away – this is just for us.

Wednesday evening, Patton Oswalt and crew come to Citrus Heights.

Barnes and Noble at the BirdcagePatton Oswalt at Barnes and Noble, will be hosting a special event with Patton and the two men who helped finish the book. If you are a survivor, please call ahead and they will hold a wristband for you. I have mixed feelings about Michelle’s book. I’ve talked with many folks and as best as I can figure out, the information Michelle wrote herself is compassionate and fairly complete. Information that was not done before she passed, was handled poorly, appears to have no fact checking and has hurt survivors by misrepresenting their loved ones or just having bad information.

You know I am going to dig into this. The chapter on Ventura is extremely short – which is fine – but it ends recommending the WORST article series ever written about our family by a reporter I still won’t talk with to this day. I seriously have such a short list of people I just won’t recognize, but she’s made the list. When the Ventura Star called after the arrest news broke, I told them in no uncertain terms, I would never speak with Ms. Cason. She’s a garbage writer and failed fact checker in my book. And sadly, Michelle’s book points to her series as a “excellent resource”. Um. No.

The Sac Bee has the “why he’s coming to Sacramento” but they really don’t have the “why” in the article. Jeez, just read it twice and there simply isn’t the “why”. But I know why and it makes me a little sad; only because it’s about HBO and not really Sacramento. HBO is planning to be there and any survivors should know that. I don’t want you to be caught off-guard if you are approached.

But so be it. Everyone is allowed to make money. In my book, they just aren’t allowed to do it while causing harm. Let’s see what happens.

Preparing to Attend Tomorrow’s Golden State Killer Hearing

Charlie’s Cafe is where the Golden State Killer liked to eat. Good on them for putting up with the lousy patron. Leave an extra few bucks for the staff – they dodged a bullet. PS: Sac County jail, he apparently LOVES cheese.

When I have a hard time writing, I know it’s usually because my feelings aren’t clear. I’ve been trying to write this about three hours now, but my thoughts are all over the place. I will say Sacramento provided a glorious Mothers’ Day; nice sunny day, warm (not hot) and folks have been in a happy mood. I went to the Zoo and watched all the families (animal and human) enjoy the morning.

I decided to come up for tomorrow’s hearing. It won’t last long. Maybe just a few minutes. But I wanted to see him: face to face. I figured I could use a few days away to think, write, sleep and be up-and-at-em first thing tomorrow morning. I arrived here in great spirits – it’s only as the time has gotten nearer that I’ve felt the heaviness come over me.

Friday Night
Friday before the hearing.
Look at all that happiness!

Friday night was awesome! I grabbed this off Twitter so I hope @BillHarticon won’t mind. Bill and Kim have been following the case while chasing these adorable twins (and some more kids at home). I had the best time learning from Bill about different aspects of the case – including the community. He knows who knows what about all things and the best sources of solid, reliable information (from whom I call the GSK Squad – all the folks out there who have kept this case alive).

It was an uplifting evening – I love me some kid time – and the hugs and smiles from the whole family made me feel so good.

Saturday

This is where things get a little weird. Well, I made it weird. I wanted to understand the “lay of the land” as it were – from where Sharon Huddle worked, to DeAngelo’s house, to Charlie’s Cafe and how far away all that was from San Juan High School where both Huddle and my parents went to school (a coincidence some think isn’t a coincidence).

I started with Sharon’s office. Maybe she’d be in on a Saturday. I figured she’s likely hiding during the week, leery of reporters. As I made my way on Sunrise Boulevard (as busy as Wilshire in LA in my humble opinion), the traffic and visual noise settled down as I approached Roseville. The cement jungle of stores and traffic settled into trees and greenery.

Her office was nice enough but she was nowhere to be found.  I peeked in the windows but there was really nothing to see. I am of two thoughts about Sharon: she either knew he did it or she was completely caught off guard. I’m struggling to believe the latter. I suspect if she knew, she would never want her kids to know and so the secret would die with her and her estranged husband.

220A Sunrise Blvd., Roseville – I was greeted by a wild turkey.
Her office is upstairs.
Nondescript waiting room – no artwork to speak of, no particular style. Very utilitarian.

Next stop was DeAngelo’s house. When I saw it the first time, I went with the 20/20 team and because I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t particularly oriented to areas of Sacramento that I know. It was a very short drive from her office to his house.

I pulled up to 8316 Canyon Oak Drive in Citrus Heights and was immediately satisfied with two changes made since I was there two weeks ago: the grass is nearly dead (sorry neighbors, I realize it looks ugly but it makes me happy) and his neighbors finished their side driveway and the RV is there to block their view of his nasty house. I delight in thinking this would have pissed him off royally.

8316 Canyon Oak Drive in Citrus Heights.

I have been intrigued by a photo I plucked off @ShelbyCrompton’s Twitter (thank you Shelby!). When I spoke to the neighbors last time, they referred to this “coring” of the backyard. The police were using metal detectors and finding a great deal buried in the ground. From the photo below, you can see what they described as “cores” is spot on – each core supposed bore fruit. Evidence. Prosecution gold.

Click and this should zoom in a bit so you can see the “cores”.

You are looking down on his house in the center. Zoom in and you’ll see all the holes from things the investigators dug up. As I understand it, for the Sacramento murders, we want to find guns that match the ballistics from the bullets taken from Katie and Brian Maggiore in 1978. The neighbors said they took out a lot of evidence and I remember hearing guns were found. 

Next stop was Charlie’s Cafe. I was going to go in and talk with the owner, but the cafe is a morning joint and it was after closing. From what I read about the owner, I would have enjoyed meeting her.

Finally I headed to San Juan High School. I’ve seen it before but it was much smaller. I can’t believe how big the school has gotten. It was harder to access than I planned. It lives on Greenback Lane and that is a large, well-traveled thoroughfare.

Hearing tomorrow.,
San Juan High School – I wonder if this is a new front door?

My mom and dad met at San Juan High School. The photo below is the two of them at the Senior Dance (that’s based on my mom’s memory so there’s a 50/50 chance she’s right). They are the second couple from the left.

Hearing tomorrow.
Lyman Smith and Margie Donald at the Senior Dance (second couple from left).

I am not convinced there’s any connection between my family and DeAngelo’s. Sharon graduated years after my mom and dad had left and moved to Berkeley. She’s over a decade younger than they are, so that further reduces the chances of a connection.

That was the extent of my adventure.

Hearing on Monday
A look at the route I took. Intentionally staying in Rancho Cordova because he’s in jail.

I’ve always thought that Sacramento was so huge – and it is – but it’s amazing how close things are when you actually start talking about neighborhoods.

Sunday, Mothers’ Day

Today, I decided to do one of my most favorite things: visit the Sacramento Zoo. I understand folks don’t like to see animals caged, but I’ve long believed allowing folks to get close to animals that are different, treasured and endangered, helps educate folks and generate a love of nature. The zoo had roses set around the park and I grabbed a red one. I acted like a lunatic talking to animals and other people’s children and generally had a good time.

As soon as I got back to the hotel, a feeling of dread set in. I think the idea of coming up here was easier than the reality. In a few hours, I will see the scum of the earth. I’ll provide an update tomorrow.

A mom’s day selfie with some birds with fowl language (puns provided at no extra charge).
Sleepy flamingo. Their necks are like a plush toy.
Thank you Sacramento Zoo for the gorgeous rose. It’s been with me all day.