Lately the Mom-from-Hell phenomenon has consumed residents of my hometown, Houston, slapping us in the face every morning over our cereal and orange juice. During the past month, the Houston Chronicle's front pages have displayed photos of a beautiful young mother charged with committing a despicable crime against her infant son and a supposedly dedicated nurse who allegedly sat back and let her boyfriend turn her young daughter's life into a living hell.
Case one, photo above, Katherine Nadal, in March 2007 the mother of a five-week-old boy. What did Nadal do? Well, according to her ex-husband, she first spent a night partying and taking drugs, then argued with him about whether or not their infant son should be circumcised. It seems Nadal was in favor and her husband wasn't. The next day, prosecutors argued, Nadal took a knife and cut off her infant son's penis and testicles, then unemotionally watched him bleed, nearly dying, as the EMTs she called attempted to save his life.
A former cheerleader, Nadal's nothing if not consistent. Last Friday, when she stood to hear the jury's verdict -- a resounding guilty -- she stared blank-faced around the courtroom. Jurors apparently didn't believe Nadal's contention that the family's mini-dachshund bit off the infant's genitals. Experts during the punishment phase argued that the child will never have a normal life, be able to have children, and may be in danger of committing suicide throughout his teenage years. For this horrible act, the jury sentenced Nadal to 99 years.
Case two is just as horrifying, the on-going heartbreak of the short and terrifying life of little Emma Thompson, the cute, red-headed four-year-old pictured on the right. Before she died, Emma came to the attention of Houston's Child Protective Services when she contracted genital herpes. One would think perhaps that should have been enough to take the child away from her mother. Apparently CPS disagrees. Emma's mom, Abigail Young, is a nurse, described as a gifted one at that. How did she explain her daughter's STD? A dirty toilet seat. Next thing we know, little Emma was beaten to death.
Granted, CPS didn't know that Young was living with Lucas Ruric Coe, reportedly pond scum already well known to the agency. That's Coe and Young pictured below. Among his past brushes with the law: assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief and injury to a child. He'd been investigated by CPS three times in unrelated charges involving another girlfriend's child.
When CPS investigated the herpes blisters found in Emma's mouth, hands and genitals, Young insisted she lived alone with Emma and her two older daughters, ages 11 and six. "She denied having a boyfriend," a CPS spokesperson has said.
The day Emma died, her mother rushed her to the hospital. But first, Young apparently tried to repair some of the damage from the horrendous beating the child received by attempting to super-glue her cracked skull. At autopsy, Emma had 80 bruises, a fractured skull, brain hemorrhage, and a vaginal tear. She also suffered blunt-force trauma to her abdomen, the death blow.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered an investigation into why CPS didn't remove little Emma when the herpes was diagnosed, which might have saved her life. Meanwhile, the rest of us shake our heads and wonder how any mother could do the things Nadal and Young are charged with. Sometimes reading the morning newspaper is enough to make me sick.