In August 2000, my mother's three best friends were arrested for the murders of five people. She was accused of providing the alibi. Looking back, this is what I learned: (click for full)
  1. You Could Be Right in the Middle of It and Not Even Know
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    At the time, I only vaguely understood the complexity and enormity of the situation. I knew that my mom's best friends had been arrested for killing five people, but other than that, I was kept in the dark. While people across the nation watched or read about the bizarre events, my mom and I pretended all was well as the media vans parked outside our apartment. It wasn't until years later that I realized the true scope of my involvement.
  2. You Will Definitely See the Signs Later
    "The circle," he said, "has people in it and outside of it. If someone left the circle to share with someone outside of it, that person and the people around them would have to be eliminated." Basically, totally unbeknownst to me at the time, Glenn and Dawn had spent the whole day trying to psych me out in front of my mother. And after I was "asleep," they told her that they'd kill both of us if she narced.
  3. The Cops Interrogate Everybody -- Even the Kids
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    In August 2000, I was taken in for questioning. I sat in a small room with a comically large mirror on the wall. In an attempt to make me less nervous, my mom sent me in with a bag of jelly beans. She said they were to share with our new district attorney friends. After a while, a woman with a no-bullshit voice came in. I offered her some jelly beans and she turned me down like I'd tried to slip her a stack of 100s to look the other way.
  4. The Fear and Paranoia Don't Magically Go Away When the Bad Guys Get Arrested
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    I'd bike around our apartment complex every day, super suspicious of anyone I didn't recognize. Not exactly the fully paid suburban vacation My Blue Heaven promised, is it? Instead of a white picket fence and a full security detail, I got super good at making Top Ramen and waiting for murderers to attack.
  5. The Psychic Toll Lasts for Years
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    My mother was a model of what I was supposed to aspire to, but all I saw were her mistakes. She trusted people too readily, so I ended up with some pretty serious problems trusting people. I suspected that friends just wanted something from me and lived every day waiting for the other shoe to drop ... and to be devoured by man-eating dogs. I'm really fun at parties.
  6. The Media Will Distort Everything
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    But hey, you can't expect the media to see the word "witch" and not seize on that sucker like a pit bull. What really pissed me off was when the news at the time made a big deal about my "eccentric" mom wearing a sewer company sweater to court.
  7. You Will Find a Way to Blame Yourself
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    I never bashed anybody's head in with a hammer or threw bags full of body parts into a river, but I still feel guilty.