Tag Archive | suicide

Revealed Chapter 11: Take Him at His Word

“Impossible is an opinion, not a fact”

In March 2001 I was baptized at Second Baptist Church in Auburn, NY.  A full water immersion baptism.  I sent written invitations to my family and friends, asking them to come to the beginning of my journey with my new life.  I gave my testimony in front of the entire congregation.  I rehearsed and quoted my favorite verse:  2nd Corinthians 5:17:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”   But my new life had begun long before this pivotal moment in my spiritual travels.  It began that very first night in 1997 when I was slumped on the floor of my bedroom and praying to someone/something I wasn’t even sure existed.  I just didn’t know it then, but my heart was ready.  So God sent someone to me, my husband, to help show me the way and help me understand and find my faith in a way that I could/would understand.  In the 14 years that Al and I have been married, we’ve grown together in faith, in love and in God’s love.  But especially in just this past year (2012).

2nd Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

That’s not to say it’s been an easy road.  Life, even with God’s unconditional love and guidance, is not such an easy road to travel.  There are always pitfalls, missteps, crises and challenges that you have to muddle through.  For me, it’s been that much easier knowing that God has my back at every turn.  Knowing that.  Again, not a simple or easy concept, like the “trust fall”.  And we have had our share of challenges and “trust falls” just this summer to get through.

 Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

My children are not believers, unfortunately.  I would love for nothing more than to have them find their way as I did, so their futures will be secure in the knowledge that they will go to Heaven when their lives here are complete.  They cannot deny with honesty that I have changed, and changed much for the better since I came to God in 1997.  I wonder if they think this happened by osmosis.  And others that knew the “before” me, do you think I just woke up and decided one day that I was going to stop swearing like a redneck trucker?  Or that I was going to suddenly stop beating on my kid’s behinds with a belt, or whatever else I could get my hands on that worked as well or better?  Perhaps I just suddenly ran out of FWB’s (see “Chapter 9:  Faith”) that I would go visit at all hours, leaving my children home alone and at risk for my own selfish reasons.  And then there was that weekend trip to Florida to be with a “friend” while I left my children with people I barely knew, let alone trusted.  But they were okay, really, they were what? 11 and 13 years old?  And Karrie was 17?

I’m not saying I’m a model of a good Christian woman.  I know I am far from that, but I’m trying.  The fact that a person can come from the chaos and irresponsibility that I have come from and turn a life around and begin living the right way ~ the way God intended us to live ~ is a testament to His existence.  For whatever reason, He came into my heart for the asking, and made me new.  My debts have been paid, my sins forgiven and forgotten ~ and what do I owe?  Only faithfulness, devotion and love.  What He asks for is not that hard!  And for those of you who do not choose to believe, that is your choice.  I’d rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong.  My way (which is His way) is a win/win situation, and I’m not wrong

Now?  My daughters and I have good relationships.  Don’t ask me how they found it in their hearts to forgive me, even when I could not yet forgive myself.  Blessing after blessing.  My son and I have been estranged for the most part and remain so, despite the fact that it’s very painful and I pray daily about it.  I’m sure, in His perfect time, it will be resolved.  Al and I are wonderful together.  As I’ve said, we’ve had our issues, what couples don’t?  But we’re getting through them with God’s help, and the help and guidance of many of our Christian friends.

I had a comment awhile back on one of my chapters from a man who was criticizing what I had written.  He seemed to think I was self-involved, self-pitying and that I should (basically) get over myself (not in those exact words).  I believe he used the word “whining” or “whiney” at one point.  That is the one and only negative feedback I’ve received, and I found it in my Spam box.  Go figure.  But I have not and will not dismiss the comment this person made because it’s negative, as it has value and merit as all of the positive ones I’ve received.  Although, I regret that I did hastily delete the comment before replying to this gentleman and thanking him for his opinion. 

So, why did I write all of these chapters and put myself “out there” for all to see?  Good question.  I was definitely not self-pitying, nor whining.  I guess I was trying to make a point by showing how something good can come from something so dreadful, if you just have faith.  There are so many women who have been or may still be in a situation(s) such as I have been, and I’m hoping they find their way to this blog and get something positive out of it.  If they’re led to a new life through spirituality, that would be my best blessing.  But if they simply get out of a domestically violent relationship, or stop taking their frustrations out on their children by abusing them, or just give their child an extra hug and “I love you” today, I would be deliriously happy.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t want pity, or praise or condolences or a pat on the back.  I want my words, my experiences to find someone and give them inspiration to better their life and those around them.  I was able to achieve this through finding my faith and spirituality, and you can too.  It only takes a moment and a simple prayer, and to believe that Jesus died for you on the cross.

If you’ve had an abortion, doesn’t matter how long ago, there is help for you.  If you drink or do drugs, abuse your kids, allow yourself to be abused in any way (and there are many ways) there is help for you.  If you’ve attempted or think you might attempt to end your life (yes, I have *twice*), think again and again!  Call someone, call anyone and talk it out ~ and pray, pray very hard.  There is help for you, too!  You are never alone, even if you don’t believe, God is there with you… for you, in you.  Take Him at His Word.

** Aftermath ~ Just a quick note ~ I have found out the BH has passed away, without ever having found me on the street and having to kill me (“Chapter 6:  Trading Faces”).  As told in Revealed Chapter 10:  May You Reach and Find God Before God Reaches and Finds You, BB committed suicide in 2003.  Do the math:  that’s two out of three “ex’s” who have left this world for the next.  That leaves MS, my first husband, alive and well.  Hmmmm.  Actually, he and I have since become good friends, and I have forgiven all three of my “ex’s” (2 posthumously) for their part(s) in my journey.  I guess maybe I should’ve thanked them!

~ Coming Up:  A first-hand look inside a 72-hour stay at Hutchings Psych Center after a suicide attempt.

                        Don’t miss it!

Revealed Chapter 10: “May You Reach and Find God Before God Reaches and Finds You”

In October of 2005, I received an unsolicited phone call from a private investigator who said he wanted to talk to me about “something I would be interested in.” 

 *Please keep in mind, that in 1998 I married my soul mate, became a Christian and we were living a  fantastic life together, finally.   And in this chapter, I need to go a little ahead to go backwards.  You’ll see what I mean as you read*

 So, when I received this unusual phone call, at first I chalked it up to being a prank, maybe.  At any rate, I was not truly interested in meeting with this mystery investigator, and at first I put him off.  However, he continued to call. When I told my husband, Al, about it, we both decided we would go ahead with this “meeting”, but that Al would have to be present.  So we made the arrangements, and the PI would come to our home and talk to both of us.

 When he showed up, after exchanging pleasantries and introductions, we sat down in our family room and I curiously waited what it was he had to say.  He began by asking me if I knew of a man by the name of Roy Brown.  I thought for a few seconds, then answered “no”.  He went on to explain that Roy Brown was doing time in Elmira State Correctional for a murder that he did not commit.  I immediately wondered what on earth this could possibly have to do with me.  The investigator further continued to explain the circumstances and my involvement in Roy Brown’s attempt at exoneration.  I think, when his story began to sink in, that I went into shock for a few seconds…. and I began to cry.

 This story is quite complicated, but the gist of it is:  in 1991, my common-law sister-in-law, Sabina Kulakowski, was murdered at the BB family farm in Aurelius, NY.  This woman was BB’s brother’s common-law wife… got that?  For all intents and purposes, she was my sister-in-law.  The murder was particularly gruesome and received huge media attention at the time, and they arrested and brought to trial this Roy Brown for the murder.  He was convicted and sent to prison.  However, Mr. Brown has consistently maintained his innocence (don’t they all?) throughout his 12 years behind bars, and had been desperately trying to prove his innocence all this time ~ per the private investigator ~ without success.  Well, Mr. Brown convinced the infamous “Innocence Project” to help him, and that’s when they began in earnest to try to track me down and bring me into the fray.  Mr. Brown, and now with the help of attorneys from the Innocence Project, had come across evidence that seemed to point the finger at BB as the potential murderer, and not Roy Brown. The timeline from 1991 when the murder was committed, puts BB and me domestically “together” at the time.

This investigation would put me in the center of an increasingly urgent appeal.  Mr. Brown was critically ill and in danger of dying due to liver problems and eventually failure.  He needed to be exonerated, if possible, in order to get out of prison and have the lifesaving liver transplant needed to survive. If he has unsuccessful, he would die in prison, innocent or guilty.  An additional complication was the fact that BB had committed suicide on December 29, 2003.  So, without the primary suspect available to be questioned, the Innocence Project was literally piecing a puzzle together, that included DNA testing that would prove or disprove the murderer.

 Over the course of the next year or so, my family and I would receive requests for interviews from attorneys, sheriffs, district attorneys, television and magazines as the saga wore on and we would eventually find out if BB was, indeed, a murderer.

 “Sabina had been beaten, bitten, stabbed and strangled.”

 On May 23, 1991, BB and I were in the midst of our own battle, yet again.  It was a particularly brutal fight that started in the afternoon and continued on through the evening.  The kids, in their infinite wisdom, had known early on to keep to themselves upstairs until it was over.  I don’t remember exactly what started it this time, but know that it was particularly heated and became physical.  I was throwing BB out of the house for a change, rather than me taking the kids and leaving, and he wasn’t going without a fight, and every dime of cash that I had in my purse.  He had taken all of his things (mostly just clothing, but also a fire department call monitor) and had packed everything into his car, and it looked like he would be voluntarily leaving.  When he returned to the house for whatever reason, one last time, he decided that he would ransack my purse and take whatever funds I would hold inside for himself.  His audacity never ceased to amaze and infuriate me, so the argument and then the physical fight ensued.  Somehow we ended up in the kitchen, each pulling at my purse with all our might trying to take it from the other.  When I saw that I may lose that battle, in an instant I grabbed for the nearest weapon I could find that might give me an upper hand against this 6’4″ aggressor.  I found myself swiping at him with a large butcher’s knife that I had pulled from the counter.  Fortunately or not, I missed the connection and he (after he got over the surprise) decided to quickly take his leave without my purse contents.  He ran out of the house and took off around 8 pm.  I didn’t care if I ever heard from him again!

A photo I took of BB in the mid-90’s. This was used in most of the media coverage.

“When it comes to DNA testing, there’s no mistakes. DNA is GOD’s creation and GOD makes no mistakes.”  Roy Brown

In helping Mr. Brown find the truth about the real killer of Sabina Kulakowski, my daughter (and BB’s) Katie, was asked if she would submit a sample of her DNA to be compared with the tee shirt evidence found near the crime scene.  By this time, of course, Katie and I were totally on board to help in any way get to the bottom of this issue.  BB was already gone, having committed suicide, so there was no reason not to cooperate and help clear a potentially innocent man after he’d already spent 15 years wrongfully imprisoned.  By now, we had been pretty involved in the exoneration portion of the case.  I had been questioned extensively over the course of two full days by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s department.  Evidently, for some reason, they were of the opinion that I “knew something” and wasn’t telling.  I was coached for hours and pressed to tell the truth because “it was okay now”, and they wouldn’t hold anything against me if I just told the truth.  Thing is, I had nothing to tell.  I remembered that night pretty well, and, if what they were saying was true, I would’ve been the first person to see BB after he would’ve committed the gruesome, horrific murder just a few miles from our home.  I remember seeing him, and there were no telltale signs of anything amiss.  He was calm, even after the horrendous fight we’d had earlier in the evening.  I don’t recall anything unusual about his clothing… there was no blood, he wasn’t disheveled.  Based on what I recall that I saw that night, I wouldn’t have thought he could’ve committed a murder.  Yet, the DNA definitely proved otherwise.  But, until 2005, I didn’t have a clue that anything was out of the ordinary.  Which meant, my family and I continued to live with a murderer from 1991 to 1998 ~ 7 years. 

Me and my daughter, Katie in 2005 (courtesy of the NY Times). Katie would be instrumental in helping in the exoneration by voluntarily submitting to DNA testing that would later prove her father was a murderer.

At the end of this post, I’m going to include several links that you can follow to learn more about the specifics of the case, and all the various media that covered it.  There was a “local” movie made about the circumstances called “Blanchard Road”, by Alex Dunbar and it was shown at a local theater in Syracuse upon Roy Brown’s release.  I managed to get a copy.  It was also highlighted on an episode of “On the Case” with Paula Zahn.  You can Google any of these things and find even more information.

Admittedly, I am, to this day, torn about this episode of my life.  I’m thankful Mr. Brown was eventually exonerated, freed, received his liver transplant in time, and received a multi-million dollar settlement from New York State.  However, I don’t know if I’m just plain in denial, or BB did such a good job of covering it up (which is doubtful), but there still remains some doubt in my mind that he committed this murder.  Just a hint.  He was not that smart or had enough foresight to be able to hide all remnants of such a vicious murder from the first person to see him shortly after it occurred.  Trust me.  And yet, there were no signs.  But besides the DNA proof that was unearthed, there did remain a few personal indications to me (specifically) that could further confirm BB’s guilt:  the victim was beaten, stabbed, choked and bitten.  Three of those four methods I had known BB well enough that it could be considered his MOA (method of operation), as I had been his victim many, many times over the previous years.

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/forensics/ff311_roy_brown/1_index.html

http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Roy_Brown.php

http://www.cnycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=75263

http://truthinjustice.org/roy-brown.htm

http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/121406_Roy_Brown_Motion.pdf

http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/122403_Roy_Brown_Letter.pdf

http://www.oocities.org/three_strikes_legal/falsely_accused.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/nyregion/21brown.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

**Note ~ the name of this chapter came from the letter that Roy Brown wrote to BB right before BB committed suicide in 2003.  See the “Roy Brown letter.pdf” link above to read what he wrote.**

**Chapter 9 is currently stalled but forthcoming in a day or two.**