A mother whose son killed his 4-year-old sister in 2007 is now opening up about her heartbreaking experience and how she’s managed to come to terms with it.
Charity Lee was at work, waiting tables in a sports bar when police officers arrived with the terrible news that her four-year-old daughter Ella was “hurt”. Already panicking, she asked to be taken to her right away, then asked about her son Paris Bennett, then aged 13. She had left both kids at home in Abilene, Texas, with a babysitter. Police then told her, “we have him” and that’s when Charity’s world began to fall apart.
She soon found out that little Ella was dead, murdered by her own half-brother. Paris, a highly intelligent teenager with an IQ of 141, had convinced the babysitter she could go home. He then calmly walked into Ella’s bedroom and began beating and choking her, before stabbing her 17 times. After killing her, he called a friend and chatted for six minutes before finally calling police.
When police arrived, Paris pretended to carry out CPR before eventually admitting what he had done. At first Paris claimed to have suffered demonic hallucinations. But he later he made a much more chilling confession. He told police that he originally planned to murder his mother Charity as well when she arrived home.
Charity told the New York Post, that what stopped him from killing her was that he then realised “if he’d killed me, I only would have suffered for five, 10, 15 minutes. But, if he left me alive [without Ella], I would suffer for the rest of my life.”
Paris is now aged 24 and continues to serve 40 years in jail, the maximum sentence available for a juvenile for murder in Texas.
10 years after the tragic incident, Charity has bravely shared her extraordinary story of how to come to terms with the grief of losing one child, and finding forgiveness for the other. A documentary ‘The Family I Had’ was screened on US channel Investigation Discovery last night.
Charity hired psychiatrists to assess Paris when he was 15-years-old and the psychiatrists agreed her son is a sociopath, that is, someone who exhibits extreme anti-social behaviour and lacks a feeling of moral responsibility for their actions. But speaking in the documentary, Paris appears remarkably cogent.
Paris said in a prison interview: “I chose to do my crime and I take full responsibility for my crime. And I wouldn’t say there was a predisposition to what happened. I’m not insane and I don’t suffer from any mental illness.”
Despite his cold demeanour, his mother is determined not to abandon him and continues to visit him regularly in prison. But she makes it clear that she wants him to remain in jail.
“I have forgiven Paris for what he did, but it’s an ongoing process. If he was free, I would be frightened of him.” she told the Post.
Charity now has a third child, four-year-old Phoenix, and tries to help other families cope with the justice system. She founded a non-profit organisation called ELLA Foundation — an acronym for Empathy, Love, Lessons and Action.
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