Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Bad Seed?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

In the 1956 film The Bad Seed, Rhoda Penmark has every possible advantage, but she is one evil little girl and without conscience:

"Rhoda Penmark lives with mother, the nervous Christine (Nancy Kelly), and a doting but often absent father played by William Hopper. They live in a sheltered world of private schools and manicured lawns, shepherded in Daddy’s absence by doting, buffoonish landlady Monica (Evelyn Varden). Their lovely little world — punctuated by Rhoda’s grating curtsies, smarmy good manners, tacky piano stylings, and the toxic mantra "What would you give me for a basket of kisses?" — begins to unravel when one of Rhoda’s classmates turns up dead. Christine gets increasingly unhinged by hints that Rhoda doesn’t take defeat kindly, and it seems the deceased — little Claude Daigle — had the temerity to win the class penmanship medal. This in spite of the fact that, as Rhoda screams, 'Everyone knew I wrote the best hand!' More puzzling deaths follow until Nature weighs in to reclaim the little beast."

I bring up The Bad Seed because of developments in the case of Lionel Tate, who murdered a six-year old in 1999:

"Lionel Tate, a twelve year old, with a normal I.Q. weighing 170 lbs, said he was imitating professional wrestlers when he beat to death 6-year-old, 48 lb. Tiffany Eunick in his Pembroke Park, Fla., home.

"July 28, 1999 Kathleen Grossett-Tate, a Florida highway patrol trooper and single mother, brought Tiffany Eunick home to watch for the evening. The mothers knew each other from Jamaica where they'd grown up. Tiffany and Lionel Tate, 12, had known each other between 2-4 weeks. After dinner as the children watched television, Grossett-Tate went upstairs. Around 10 P.M., she yelled for them to quiet down, but didn't check on them. Forty minutes later Tate told his mother that Tiffany was not breathing. Tate claimed he had Tiffany in a headlock as he slammed her head on a table, but a medical examiner's reported indicated injuries caused by much rougher abuse. Experts testified that Tiffany suffered a beating lasting 1 - 5 minutes. She had 35 injuries, including a ruptured spleen, lacerations, and damage to her rib cage, a fractured skull, brain contusions, a partially detached liver and bruises all over her body. (Tate changed his story years later claiming he jumped on her from a staircase.)

"Tate's described as bright, and street smart, had an eight year history of major behavior problems including fighting, assault, lying, stealing, and fifteen school suspensions. His attorneys argued that the death was an accident. Michael Brannon, a forensic psychologist at the Institute for Behavioral Sciences and the Law was appointed to examine Tate in 1999. Brannon's evaluation concluded he didn't suffer from mental illness but had 'a high potential for violence, uncontrolled feelings of anger, resentment, and poor impulse control.' Brannon recommended that Tate be placed in a secure mental hospital for intensive monitoring if he was released...."
Whatever happened to Lionel Tate? In 2004, his conviction was overturned on appeal, and he was released on probation. Almost immediately, he had a run-in with the law and received an additional five years of probation, yet he remained free. And it didn't take long for him to get into more trouble, for which he was again recently in court:
"On Thursday [May 18, 2006], he was back in court over the holdup of a pizza deliveryman last May.

"In a deal with prosecutors, Tate had faced 10 to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery and violating his probation by having a gun. On Thursday, the judge let him withdraw his guilty plea in the robbery but still sentenced him on the gun charge. The robbery trial is set for Sept. 18.

"Defense attorney H. Dohn Williams said he did not understand why Tate would want to go to trial on the robbery charge, given that a conviction could bring a life sentence in addition to the 30 years for the probation violation.

"'He continues to get bad advice from meddling third parties,' Williams said outside court.

"Williams said Tate's mother, Florida Highway Patrol trooper Kathleen Grossett-Tate, told him he could win an appeal on the probation violation conviction, win his robbery case and leave jail in a year. She left court without commenting.

"Williams pleaded with the judge for leniency, blaming Tate's criminal behavior on his upbringing.

"'The death of Tiffany Eunick would never have occurred if there had been proper parental guidance and control,' Williams said...."
From a May 19, 2006 item in the Washington Post:
"FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Lionel Tate, the teenager who got a second chance after he beat and stomped a 6-year-old girl to death, was sent back to prison for 30 years for gun possession. 'In plain English, Lionel Tate, you've run out of chances. You do not get any more,' Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus told Tate, who smirked as he was led off to jail."
Whether or not there is any validity to the bad-seed argument, rehabilitation is an extremely remote possibility. In The Bad Seed, no amount of love or good upbringing could change Rhoda Penmark, the child born without a conscience, a trait she had inherited from her maternal grandmother, who had been a cold-blooded killer.

In 2036, the year in which Lionel Tate is scheduled for release, he will be forty-nine years old--if he serves the full sentence, that is. I imagine that his mother will continue to make excuses and to search for leniency for her son. Such has been her pattern all along, despite her career as a law-enforcement officer. But excuses and leniency have done nothing to teach Lionel Tate about responsibility and accountability.

38 Comments:

At 5/20/2006 7:34 AM, Blogger Lawman said...

As far as I'm concerned, Lionel Tate should get the maximum penalty on both charges. As the judge so elequently quoted, "he had his chance". And he blew it. Probably becasue mommy was always there to bail here precious little boy out of the hot seat.

Maybe she should be in a cell next to him for creating such a burden to society.

Can Mr. Tate be reformed? Given his ever growing criminal record, I doubt it.

 
At 5/20/2006 7:51 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I am a firm believer in consequences! Very firm! This person never developed the ability to feel compassion or empathy, wheither it is genetics or nurture(lack) I don't know. It may be a combination of the two. There was a book I read several years ago called "Angel", it was about an only child whose mother doted on him, made excuses for him and generally blinded herself to his pathological behavior. She ended up pregnant when he was a teen and he killed her because he felt that she had betrayed him by having another child.
There is a mother down the street from me who has one son, she gets him everything he wants and believes everything he says. The funny thing is, he wants to live with his dad who disciplines him and doesn't give him everything! So, I think these cases must involve home environment and genetics!
To me it is proof positive that there is a battle of "Good" and "Evil" and "Evil" sometimes captures the soul!
Lawman, I'm betting that you can see this dicotomy every day, those who do something and are ashamed of themselves, and unfortunately those who wallow in evil because they want to! Signs of a very sick, fallen world!
AoW- Living here in Fla. I have seen and heard this persons name alot! The judge was wise enough to get his foolish fanny off the streets for the communities sake! Tate isn't sick with anything but sin and a reprobate heart!

tmw

 
At 5/20/2006 2:20 PM, Blogger Lawman said...

TMW- Oh yeah. It's very apparent which folks have made an "honest mistake" from those who have little to no regard for the laws. The first group of folks can usually be rehabilitated with out a lot of effort. The second group is, by and large, a lost cause. Most of them will be repeat offenders within days (sometimes hours!) of being released from custody.

I believe Lionel Tate is firmly planted in the second group of people.

 
At 5/20/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

This is a horror story.
The law protected this monster not the society.
No, he is beyond repair because he's no empathy and his emotions are twisted.
Should we worry why he's twisted?

 
At 5/20/2006 6:50 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Felis- He's only in his teens! If the judge hadn't sentenced him to prison, G*D only knows what hellish havoc he would have raised! Still no explaination as to what he was really thinking when he murdered that little girl! His mother is culpable, and I believe G*D will have a few things to say to her!

tmw

 
At 5/20/2006 10:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
Here in the D.C. area, we didn't hear much about this case, as far as I know. Lately much news coverage here has been devoted to the killing of two officers at one of the local police stations; the second funeral was today as one officer lived for about 10 days. The officer killed at the scene--Vicky Armel--was a born-again Christian and the mother of two young children; her husband is devastated, but the turnout for his wife's service numbered over 4000. Several hundred more lined the long route to the cemetery.

 
At 5/20/2006 11:11 PM, Blogger benning said...

Tate will never understand responsibility. He is past that point. As a Sociopth he is incapablre of knowing how to care, or how to control what he doesn't wish to control.

Such truly defective humans should be permanently segregated from the rest of Society. Better if they were put down, as they are not human in any positive sense. Ted Bundy is a near-perfect example of the danger of the Sociopath. No counseling, no rehab, no good intentions can cure them.

There is nothing within thier psyches to be cured. That portion is lacking in them.

'Course, if lawyers want to make excuses for them, we need to begin making them house these creatures on release. In isolation. For the remainder of thier natural lives!

 
At 5/20/2006 11:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

True sociopaths cannot be rehabilitated with any consistency. For one thing, they view other human beings as things, and that perspective is deeply ingrained in these "conscienceless" individuals. And many of them have way-above-average IQ's, thus making them particularly dangerous.

I'm not sure that our justice system knows exactly how dangerous they are!

 
At 5/20/2006 11:59 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

He will probably be converted to islam while he is in prison.

I remember this story from the beginning. I remember being horrified at how that mother heard that little girl being beat up and did nothing. Didn't even bother to check what was happening. I've seen mothers around here who just couldn't care less what their kids are doing.

 
At 5/21/2006 12:34 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

There is such a thing as birth defects. Some people are born as Siamese Twins joined at the hip. Some are born without arms. Some are born horribly disfigured. All of these birth defects are absolutely tragic and heartbreaking, but I believe the worst defect of all is being born without a conscience. And many people are.

I grew up with a step-sister who didn't have one. She stole, she lied, she hurt people. I slept in the bathtup many a night because I shared a room with her and she vowed to stab me in my sleep. This is true, I swear to God. She died at the age of 21 from an overdose of drugs. My parents got counseling for her and she wrapped the counselors around around her little finger. She always managed to fool them.

This is the mindset of serial killers. They are suffering a birth-defect: born without a consciense. But we as a society cannot feel sorry for them. They must be dealt with so innocent people are not murdered like this cretin did to this poor child.

Humanity must always have a conscience; those born without one are not fully human.

Sorry to be so long, but this one really hits home.

 
At 5/21/2006 12:38 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

One other thing; please don't be in a hurry to judge the mother. We don't know her. Children get in fights and holler at one another all the time. They even scream. I remember when my son and daughter (she was 3 years younger than he was) got into a wrestling match. She was screaming like she was being murdered the entire time, but they were only playing! You sort of get used to hearing that sort of thing, and don't think too much of it. The weird part was, she won! :)

 
At 5/21/2006 1:02 AM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Merry Widow,
Felis- He's only in his teens!
Well he'll be still relatively young to provide us with even more of the same after his release.
I don't wnt to think about the possibilities.

 
At 5/21/2006 6:58 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I have the uncut interview of Ted Bundy with Dr. Dobson the night before his execution. And A.C., my late and I had NO doubt that he had repented and become a true Christian before his meeting with his MAKER! He very specifically repented AND took full responsibility for his actions. His words were, "Society deserves to be protected from the Ted Bundy's of the world!" There is the true rehabilitation, it only comes from a changed heart, and T.B.s was changed. If Lionel Tate has that kind of repentance he will confess all, until then there is no heart or soul. The spirit of lawlessness is very active now a days! I'm not surprised by this callous disregard for anyone else, we will see more of it. Gayle, yes many seem to be born without a consciense, but others are raised with none! There is a personalized Evil in the world even though many deny it, Tate is an example of it!
AoW- Replied to your e-mail, take care!
Good morning and G*D bless all!

tmw

 
At 5/21/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I can understand a mother's taking up for her baby. But can't she see what he is?

I'd love to have a look at those school files to see just how many times Mom went to bat for her son Lionel. Delayed intervention in cases like this almost always lead to fatality or fatalities, and even the parent can be the victim.

TMW,
As to Bundy's conversion, it may indeed have been real. There was another such conversion in Texas--a woman whose name escapes me at the moment. If serial killers truly undergo a spiritual change, they shouldn't be too worried to meet their Maker. Of course, sociopaths are notorious for faking conversion to Christ.

 
At 5/21/2006 12:17 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

leniency is what destroyed our society .the average person walking the streets has a rap sheet a mile long!..I know of a dude being released for this 3rd car theft..u think he wont relapse again?!..sheesh.

 
At 5/21/2006 1:30 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- I agree, most are to gain sympathy. But in Bundy's case he fired his lawyers for continuing to appeal against his wishes! He said he deserved to die for his crimes and let the court carry out his sentence. That tells me he wasn't afraid to die and he recognized the magnitude of his crimes! Also he did a study in prison as to how many violent offenders were addicted to porn before they started thier crimes, that part was cut out of subsequent interviews. He made a compelling case for execution of certain criminals because of porn and high recividism rates. He also said that there was nothing he could ever say or do to relieve the families of his victims, that he could never pay back what he had done and that his death was thier only relief! He had begun to empathise with his victims and thier families, he was nearly unable to talk he was crying so hard, not for himself but for the families! And he didn't try to hide his eyes from Dr. Dobson or the camera. Like I said, my late husband who was no fool and a very G*Dly man, truely believed him!

tmw

 
At 5/21/2006 8:18 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
he did a study in prison as to how many violent offenders were addicted to porn before they started thier crimes...

Now that you mention it, I recall Bundy's mention of porn. Child porn is particularly vile. Did Bundy happen to mention that aspect?

 
At 5/21/2006 8:20 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

WHT,
leniency is what destroyed our society

I agree. Chance after chance, without attention to the roles of accountability and remorse.

Of course, many criminals are not sociopaths. Rather, they're just getting away with what they are ALLOWED to get away with.

 
At 5/21/2006 8:22 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
he is beyond repair because he's no empathy and his emotions are twisted.
Should we worry why he's twisted?


Only if a discernible cause can be determined. However, many sociopaths have documented brain damage (head injuries, birth problems, etc.). I'm not speaking of retardation. Now, if there is irreversible brain damage, rehabilitation is just not possible; neurology has its realities.

But I'm also sure that upbringing is at fault in some circumstances.

 
At 5/21/2006 8:25 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
He will probably be converted to islam while he is in prison.

I wouldn't be surprised. Lee Malvo, the younger of the D.C. snipers, has me curious as to whether or not he ever had a brain injury (See my comment above). Just something about him that makes me suspect so. Then, with John Allen as his mentor--and who knows what else--he converted to Islam and joined in John Allen's "personal jihad" (aka, murder the former Mrs. Allen)/

 
At 5/21/2006 8:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Lawman,
The first group of folks can usually be rehabilitated with out a lot of effort. The second group is, by and large, a lost cause. Most of them will be repeat offenders within days (sometimes hours!) of being released from custody.

I believe Lionel Tate is firmly planted in the second group of people.


Something akin to "You can't straighten out a pretzel." Rehabilitators don't want to believe that some cases are hopeless, but I believe that to be the truth.

 
At 5/21/2006 8:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
Still no explaination as to what he was really thinking when he murdered that little girl!

Sociopaths don't view other people as human; they view other people as "things."

Lionel Tate has no remorse. He is also a pathological liar.

 
At 5/21/2006 8:53 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Have you ever seen the made-for-tv movie, Child of Rage? Some kids lose all capability to empathize with others... and this makes them deadly. Not sure anything can help these lost souls... bad seeds indeed.

 
At 5/21/2006 9:39 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

This kid is EVIL!

His mother and the legal system taught him that not even the life of a child is worth much; it didn't really get him in all that much trouble, so anything else he might do is no biggie!

 
At 5/22/2006 8:57 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Esther,
I haven't seen that movie, but I read a book about children at risk; the book detailed a controversial method for reaching these children who view other human beings as things instead of as people. I don't know how successful that therapy was, but some reports supported it.

Brooke,
His mother, whether overtly or covertly, reinforced her own child's defect. And the legal system did the same. But honestly, I don't know if a difference can be made with sociopaths, and that is a ocntroversial issue.

 
At 5/22/2006 11:59 AM, Blogger nanc said...

i have lived with a sociopathic child in the house. my nearly 17 year old stepson is classic.

although, having been around him since he was eight months old, he's never accepted me or the children his father and i have had. when he was about seven, had a neighbor coming out to hang laundry not caught him, would have drown our five-year-old son as he had him face down in an ice chest full of water practically sitting on him to keep him under. the neighbor said she was about to come over the fence as her screaming at him finally got through. i came out the back door as the stepson was letting him up. i've never seen such evil on the face of a child.

my husband was in denial for a number of years where he was concerned and it was only after we agreed to his coming to live with us (troubles at home with his mother and her boyfriend) did he see exactly what this kid is made of.

i'm reminded of the movie with mccauley culkin "the good son" - this kid is a replica of my stepson.

i don't believe children are born that way, but do believe situations early on can shape that type of behavior. if only the mother would have relinquished custody to us when he was small, his behavior may have been different.

now, he's a drug addicted, thieving alcoholic delinquent and has now shunned us. i pray for a change in him.

 
At 5/22/2006 12:09 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Oh Nanc, how horrid for you and your husband! I'm so sorry that you had to deal with that kind of situation, constant concern for your other children! I'll bet your poor hubby is kicking himself a lot too! It's awful to have to live with that kind of result, I know you did everything you could think of, plus a few "inspired" ideas as well.

tmw

 
At 5/22/2006 12:20 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- Missed your question above. Bundy said he got hooked when he was 12 and a neighbor had thrown out all his old Playboy magazines! Apparently the neighbor failed to place them inside the garbage can, but just stacked them to the side. Bundy and a couple of his friends saw them and took them to the woods to save and drool over! By what he said it was all grown women he was attracted to and he used alcohol and later drugs to fuel the desire is how I believe he put it! He said don't blame my parents, they were G*Dly Christians who raised him and his brother according to G*Dly principles and it was his choice to feed the flames! He and his younger brother were adopted, don't remember if the boys were blood or adoptive brothers. The saying not to blame his parents was very telling in our decision to believe what he said!

tmw

 
At 5/22/2006 1:24 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
He and his younger brother were adopted

Now, that's an interesting detail. In the film The Bad Seed, Rhoda was adopted, thereby bringing up the topic of an inherited trait.

 
At 5/22/2006 1:30 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
The story of your stepson is one with which I'm familiar, both from reading and from a bit of personal experience.

But I do think that the problem can be present from birth. The "cause" of some sociopathy can be traced to upbringing and environment, but not all. Not by a long shot.

What you have described is a life on a terrible course. Continue to pray. And I hate to say it--watch your back.

 
At 5/22/2006 2:49 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- I know Ducky will have a field day, but I also believe in generational curses! After some of the things I have dealt with both at the childrens shelter and church(discipeling and counseling) that has been a real bugaboo that is underrated! Even children brought up by others can follow the behavior of one or both parents. Deliverance of adopted children should be a must in most cases. Not the "exorcist" style, but more prayer and fasting to break the curse. Also teaching the child to renounce past sins of the family line has a tremendous impact on lives!

tmw

 
At 5/22/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i'm thankful to say, he went back to live with his mother - we have too many rules, like not letting him hang around with lowlife druggies and other delinquents. i caught him with inhalents in his backpack, to which he gave hokey excuses for and his father believed him! no more though - it was as though my husband woke up a different person one day and said, "ENOUGH!" i prayed that would happen - you cannot solve a problem without first admitting there is one.

 
At 5/22/2006 2:53 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

BTW in many cases it can be traced to the fathers behavior or the reason why the father IS NOT PRESENT!
I was adopted and in college I found myself involved in some situations where I didn't even know how I ran into certain persons and got into circumstances like I did! If it wasn't for G*D I would not be happy, healthy or safe now!

tmw

 
At 5/22/2006 2:57 PM, Anonymous themerrywidow said...

Nanc- Still, do watch your and your husbands backs! Also your children, he may decide to punish you and his father by hurting your children! Be praying for ya'lls safety!

tmw

 
At 5/22/2006 3:32 PM, Blogger nanc said...

trust me - i've made it clear that our safety and well being is of the utmost importance and that he is not welcome back until he is off drugs, admits his wrongs, gets an abundance of counseling, turns 30 without having been to prison, is well into his only marriage with a child of his own, and has a good career or job. when he meets that criteria, then he's welcome back. that goes for the rest of you! you wanna piece of me? pow, right in the kisser!

 
At 5/22/2006 5:28 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Good! I like my brothers and sisters to be safe, can't always happen, but family is important. If you need backup, let me know, I will arrive with an assortment of weaponry, some of it ballistic in nature!

tmw

 
At 10/27/2006 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathleen Grossette-Tate SHOULD be in JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 10/27/2006 8:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Anonymous,
I agree with you. As I see it, she did not parent well. Worse, she made excuse after excuse for Lionel. I suspect that she will continue to seek out attorneys who can work the system.

Thank you, Anonymous, for stopping by.

 

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