Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Could You, Theresa Riggi?

By Diane Fanning

Sometimes mothers in the throes of a serious psychotic episode take the lives of their own children. It's a horrifying act, but if the woman was disconnected from reality, it is easier to understand. But when a mother kills her children for her own gain, personal convenience or as an act of retribution against the children's father, the act baffles me to the point that it seems impossible. How could any woman do that?

As a mother, it seems far more natural to lay down my own life for the sake of a child I carried inside of my body all those months than it is to ever intentionally do anything to harm my child. 

I recoiled from 23-year-old Susan Smith, who killed her two young boys because she wanted to hold on to a man. 

I was repulsed by 21-year-old Casey Anthony, who murdered her little girl, not quite three years old, because, it seems, little Caylee was cramping her style.

We now add to that pantheon of monstrous mothers a 46-year-old woman of privilege: Theresa Riggi.  She, it seems, want to get back at her estranged husband.

Born Theresa Butimore in Bakersfield, California, she married Pasquale Riggi, a petroleum engineer and a native of Colorado, on September 30, 1989.  In the nineties, Pasquale's job with Royal Dutch Shell brought them to the Netherlands.  In 1997, the couple moved to Aberdeenshire in Scotland where, eight years ago, they had a pair of twins, Augustino and Gianluca, followed by a daughter, Cecilia, three years later.

Theresa, an accomplished violinist, home-schooled the children, but when Pasquale filed for divorce and custody of the children, he was adamant that they attend a real school. Theresa didn't want her children seeing their father. But an investigation during the divorce found that contact should be permitted, and the court saw no problems with the children living with their father. The divorce and battle for custody was bitter. 

On July 4, Theresa ran off with the children. Pasquale reported them missing. Judge Lord Malcolm issued a court order forbidding the removal of the children from the country. 
Theresa and her children were located in a flat in Edinburgh. She ran off with the children once again. Judge Lady Clark issued a warrant allowing a search for Theresa, and instructed social workers to take charge of the children and obtain child protection orders if necessary.

Theresa was losing custody of her children. But no one was suggesting she should not see them at all.  Still, that was unacceptable to her. She wanted to win this battle and since she had not, she wanted to hurt her ex-husband.

One by one, she slit her children's throats. 

Eight-year old Augustin--dead.

Eight-year old Gianluca--dead. 

Five-year-old Cecilia--dead.
Proving, too late, that she should not be trusted with the care of those children.

This monstrous mother then caused a gas explosion in the home to cover up her wrong-doing. She leaped out a window, screaming: "My children!  My children!" She hit the ground, 40 feet below. She survived and has now been charged with murder.

Theresa's family is distraught. They believe that Theresa could not bear losing her children. Still they did not foresee and cannot comprehend her actions.

To me,  Theresa's thought process seems transparent: if she couldn't have full-time custody of her children, then nobody would. If she could not have all of her children, all of the time, she would not accept having her children some of the time.  And because she lost the battle, she wanted to get even with her estranged spouse -- and the lives of three innocent children were far less important to her than her desire to fulfill that goal.

I do not understand how any mother could make that decision. I don't know how any mother could place her petty desires above her children's lives. 

How could you, Theresa Riggi? How could you?

When the Casey Anthony trial begins next year, you'll find daily updates of the case on Diane Fanning's blog, Writing is a Crime.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it is horrible when a mother kills her children. It is also horrible when a man kills the children just to hurt the mother, as he knows there is no greater devastation.
I only hope the killers burn in Hades.

Diane Fanning said...

And now rather than later.

pattydiva said...

I'm with you on this subject, Diane. I have three children and although I've wanted to choke them at one time or another, usually for poor decision making, I would give a limb or my life for them. It must be horrible to have that much animosity built up inside and miss so much of the wonder and beauty we have access to in life. What a pity.

pattydiva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leah said...

What is the penal system like in Scotland?

Anonymous said...

The penal system in Scotland, unlike the Christian American one, abides by the 6th commandment.

Diane Fanning said...

Anonymous, I am getting your message.
Despite what the right-wingers say: this is not a Christian nation. It is the majority religion but no the sole one. Many of the founding fathers were Deists.
And, many christians do not believe in the death penalty.

cheryl said...

I am a very serious Christian, and I hate the death penalty. I am a Libertarian, so I don't buy into too many party lines.

All that aside, Mothers who kill their children need to be punished. People store up so much bitterness within themselves. Any Mother who would do this deserves the same fate as a Father who would do it.