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Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter Paperback – September 8, 2009
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At age 15, Melissa Moore learned that her father, Keith Jesperson, was a serial murderer. And for the next 15 years, she tried to keep that painful fact a secret. Now 30 years old and author of the recently released book; Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter, Moore has spent the past year finally liberating herself from the guilt and shame she felt over her father's past. I know I'm in the perfect place at the perfect time, telling my story to those who have been searching for answers within the dark crevices of their own souls, Moore wrote, "I know that I'm bringing light into that darkness. I know that I'm literally breaking the chains of horror, secrecy and devastation." But the light wasn't always there and signs of the darkness to come began for Moore at the age of 6 when she found a litter of kittens. She vividly recalls how her father asked to see the kittens, grabbed them and hung them on the clothesline. I remember saying, 'Daddy, please stop. These are my kittens. Please stop.' I kept screaming it,' Moore said.'I saw that he had a smirk on his face. And that he was really enjoying what he was doing to my kittens.' Moore said she raced into the house to get her mother but it was too late: The kittens were already dead. When Melissa was 10 her parents divorced, and five years later her mother called the whole family together for a meeting she would never forget. [Moore's mother] said, 'Your dad is in jail.' And she had this look that said, 'We're not going to talk about this. This is really hard.' And my brother said, 'For what?' and she said, 'For murder,' Moore said. It wasn't just one murder, it was at least four, all women. Jesperson was the serial murderer known as the 'Happy Face Killer' the label given for the happy faces he drew on letters to the media. Although Moore did not want to believe it, she said she immediately thought of the kittens. 'That's when I knew that what my mother had just told me was true,' Moore said. Jesperson was convicted and is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in prison in Oregon. What followed were years of keeping her shameful secret and worrying that people would think she was like her father, all the while knowing she wasn't. When she fell in love with Samuel Moore, she shared her secret with him. The two started a family together and life was pretty normal, Moore said, until the day her own 5-year-old daughter, Aspen, asked about her grandfather. 'She came home from school and asked me 'Mommy, everybody has a daddy, where's your daddy?' The innocent question made Moore realize she needed to talk. 'I have not dealt with my past, I've avoided it,' she said. 'I've been running away from it. I've been keeping a secret. I have to do something.' Melissa said she began searching for the help she needed to cope with her guilt. Finally, she emailed Dr. Phil McGraw about taking part in his 'Get Real Retreat.' She said writing that email that day was so liberating, she wrote about it in her book. 'As I pressed 'send,' I knew I was changing my life forever and maybe that of many others,' she wrote. 'Magically, some of the darkness within began to lift.' Moore said she found relief when she appeared on 'Dr. Phil. 'You have nothing to be ashamed of,' McGraw told her. 'You have done nothing wrong. You didn't kill anyone.' From 'Dr. Phil' to her new book, to a family that can now be open about the past, the dark shadow of her father's misdeeds may always hang over the family. But, Moore said, at least she has found a way to let the light in. --ABC News By LIZ SINTAY and KATIE BOSLAND Dec. 2, 2009
Wow! I was interested in the story right away. I have seen this lady on Dr. Phil and Oprah and was so intrigued. I couldn't put the book down. It was so inspiring to see how she made different choices then her family and turned out to be so compassionate. This is a must for your collection. --Amazon
Absolutely incredible story of someone who is an example of how to prosper and use her incredibly tough circumstances to grow and inspire others. Melissa's story is as inspirational as it is sad that she had to live through unspeakable circumstances. --Amazon
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I've read the true-crime book about Keith Hunter Jesperson entitled "I: The Creation of a Serial Killer" a couple of times. Yes, it is very rare for me to read a book more than once, but it may be the most riveting true-crime book from the most riveting true-crime author ever, Jack Olsen. I have also viewed a couple of documentaries about Mr. Jesperson on YouTube, documentaries that will make you shake your head in disbelief, and not just from the murders. And I just screened "Happy Face Killer," a film "inspired by true events" which usually means that it's neither inspired nor true. That film surely helped prove those two quoted points, although I will admit I mostly liked it, even though I believe that David Arquette was a poor choice to play lead. After all, Mr. Jesperson is larger than life, standing at 6 foot 6 and probably now close to 300 pounds, and his size added to the terror of the murders I'm guessing. And subtracted from the simulated murders on screen by Mr. Arquette.
So, in other words, after reading and viewing this story from other angles, this perspective became a must-read book for me.
For some reason while reading, I kept thinking about the book "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard. Yes, the writing styles are quite different. "Shattered Silence" is a more polished and mature work, although if you are familiar with Ms. Dugard's circumstances you will quickly understand why; she wasn't really afforded a formal education for the majority of her life past her kidnapping at age 11. But it could be argued that in some ways, Ms. Dugard's writing actually added to the tale; on the "ear" it sounded like the work of someone much younger which added to the terror as you could imagine how she felt at such a young age. It was almost as if you were there. (The reasons for my interest in that tale: I remember distinctly the kidnapping on the news, and her recovery years later. And she was held only a half hour from where I live.)
While I won't even argue who was treated worse -- those types of arguments are a waste of time and energy as they devolve into moral relativism -- both Ms. Dugard and Melissa Moore were abused by men in their lives in different ways. And both of the stories come from a victim's perspective, rather than from the detectives' or killers' perspectives from most true crime. Furthermore, both were traumatized at very young ages, lived through it, and seem to have similar belief systems later in life. So, these similarities might be the reason for me making the comparison and thinking about that other book.
Usually, when I read a book, I read every word. I don't feel that I get my money's worth otherwise. But here, I actually did quite a bit of skimming, particularly in the early chapters. I will admit that some of the stories, particularly from Ms. Moore's very early childhood, aren't all that interesting to me. But I suppose this is her story, she feels those stories are important, and therefore she includes them here. Fair enough. But since I like reading true-crime -- usually more from the detective end, however -- I surely was very interested during chapters where Ms. Moore discussed interactions with her father. During those sections I sat on the edge of my seat, waiting for another shoe to drop. Or at least a roll of duct tape to fall from a pillowcase in the "coffin" of a big rig. After all, don't people want to know what makes a serial killer tick? I've always felt that, if you can understand a serial killer, you should be able to understand anyone.
One interesting point for me: while reading "I", Mr. Olsen seemed to take a skeptical view of Mr. Jesperson's assertions that the killer's father abused the son. Here, Ms. Moore seems to take a more balanced approach, even taking the side of her father on this issue. Sure, you can argue, "Well, who cares if he was abused? It doesn't give him the right to go out and kill anyone!" which would certainly be a valid argument. After all, Ms. Moore was abused and she hasn't killed anyone as some evidence. But it still might have been the straw that broke the camel's back with a previously borderline personality such as one Keith Hunter Jesperson. But it would be interesting to enter an alternate universe and see how he would have turned out otherwise.
Without taking sides, many people might be turned off by this book. After all, I have peeked at some other reviews that refer to Ms. Moore as being "spiritual." She is certainly more than that. Not that I need to discuss my own beliefs, but at this point in my life, I would be probably referred to as "agnostic." If so, I'm in good company; Carl Sagan most likely held this position himself when he stated, "Atheists must certainly know more than I." One huge irony, however: I believe that serial killers may be more accepted than Christians are in today's society, unbelievably. If this is true, then Mr. Jesperson might be liked more by many than Ms. Moore. At any rate, Ms. Moore is not afraid here to disclose her own personal religious views, which is fine since, once again, this is her story.
Even though this book is not my usual cup of tea, I still will recommend brewing over it a bit. After all, even though it starts out quite bitter, it ends quite sweet. And what else could you ask for on a summer afternoon outside, reading?
Her upbringing was tough and her mother did not seem to be able to do much to help herself or her children. Her story about how her father tortured kittens is painful to read. But he also helped her by buying her clothes and the family food, so she both loved and was scared of him and disgusted by the stories he told her that no father should tell to their daughter. She knew something was off with him.
I am glad things finally worked out for her when she grew up, she seems happy now. Her mother stayed in a second abusive relationship for reasons that are hard to understand. He certainly did not help the family financially or any other way. Seemed to just make everyone's life worse, her mother worked, this guy was probably getting disability social security since he is deaf but had real anger management issues, would push her mother up through walls among other things. Even her daughter could not figure out why her mother stayed with him. Her mother made a few half-hearted attempts to leave this bully and kept going back with him. She supported the family, he was abusive to her and the kids and did nothing. Why put up with it? Shame on her for putting her kids through this.
In any case, a fascinating read, I recommend it.