Page Title


It would seem writing was imbedded within my coiled DNA. My earliest recollection associated with this craft was setting crayon to wall. More specifically, I was frequently scolded, as a kindergartner, for perfecting my printing on the wall next to my bed. My parents saw damage. I saw a tabula rasa. Sitting on the carpet crunched in that narrow space was exhilarating. My next memory was the day I received an award in second grade a month after we had been challenged to write about our favorite stuffed animal (in my case, a big, homely pink poodle). It was published in the Detroit News next to my photo. It felt as if I shared the podium with fellow Olympic medalists.

So taken was I with writing, even decades later, that my first declared major in college was English with the goal of writing children's books. The Magic Years by Selma Freiberg was instrumental in luring me into the field of psychology. She impressed me with her ability to take sophisticated psychological concepts and effortlessly translate them into practical, memorable, useful passages any parent could grasp.

Then life happened. And grew dark.

Married LifeI married an older man, a psychologist, who championed my pursuit of higher education, until he didn't. Therein began the story of his leap from grace into a dangerous double life as "Dr. Miller" which ended in his highly publicized beheading in the notorious Cass Corridor area of south-central Detroit and the start of my 30 year redacted life. During this time I asked myself the hard questions, battled PTSD from what I witnessed in the morgue, changed my name and moved states away into a tiny farming town where the newspaper was as thick as a folded napkin. I carefully tip toed around discussions having to do with marriage history and started a memoir collection. Those authors became my inspiration, my role models, as they had faced varied and inauspicious circumstances - and survived. They renewed my belief that setbacks are an opportunity for a comeback. Those books, combined with a lecture at work years later, about the physical price people pay for keeping a secret for decades, encouraged me to set pen to paper about this ugly chapter in my life and how I coped with it professionally, legally and socially. In so doing I aimed to be the voice of others left in the shadows of mayhem.

Since 1981 I have worked as a doctoral-level psychologist in a variety of settings and published professional articles in refereed journals as well as a book chapter. The editor of one journal made an exception to their policy of never publishing case studies when they accepted my submission. I had several requests for reprints.

In addition to clinical work, I taught college from the AA level through post-doctoral fellowship tutorials. My students included clergy, psychology majors, military officers and physicians.

In a strange twist, I am uniquely qualified to write a book about surviving murder because of my personal journey and formal training. But I did not rely upon those experiences alone. I took an approach similar to David Carr when he wrote his memoir Night of the Gun. Like Carr, I cross-checked my memories with interviews, studied photographs, read legal and medical records revisited places where this chapter of my life unfolded and reviewed print and televised media coverage. (The court records alone weighed 11 pounds). There are many books written objectively by mental health personnel about coping with trauma (and a few pertain to murder) but the authors have not experienced it. On the other hand, there are subjective books about family homicides written without the benefit of formal training in understanding human behavior. What you have before you is a psychologist's study of the darkest days of her life.

There are things known and things unknown.
and in between are the doors of perception.---Aldous Huxley

Jan Canty