'Let's Kill Mom': Behind The Disturbing Susan Bailey Murder
Close your eyes and picture your kids. Now imagine those children, the lights of your life, surrounding you with knives, stabbing you repeatedly and turning deaf ears to your cries of pain and pleas to stop until you fall to the floor of your own home and gasp your last breath.
Can’t imagine that?
Neither could Texas mother Susan Bailey, who worked two jobs to ensure that 17-year-old Jennifer and 13-year-old David had everything they needed and most of what they wanted. She had no idea they wanted her dead.
Jennifer yearned to be with her boyfriend, Paul Henson Jr. Sixteen-year-old Paul wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody. Young David was trying to please his sister, who in the absence of their hardworking mom took care of him. And then there was 14-year-old Merrilee White who was willing to kill her own mother to remain close to Jennifer and Paul. These four formed a murderous pact to kill their parents, flee to Canada, and somehow live happily ever after.
It was September 2008. Jennifer was scheduled to begin an art college in a few days while David, Merrilee and Paul continued school in the Northwest Independent School District. Both girls fancied themselves in love with Paul, who was into sex, Satanism, music that glorified death, and role-playing games. Both girls’ mothers recognized that Paul was trouble and had forbidden them to see him. The teens saw murder as the only way they could be together.
First Merrilee tried to stab her sleeping mom, but Amy White awoke just in time to avoid an upraised butcher knife. Paul waited with a gun at his parents’ house, but they had decided to stay in the city for dinner and a movie. Susan Bailey, however, left her second job in Fort Worth, Texas, and walked right into a trap.
Kate Morten had been trying to reach her daughter and grandchildren by telephone from her home in Minnesota. When she learned that Susan had not been at work she called Roanoke, Texas, police. No one answered the door at the house in the upscale neighborhood and no one knew what happened to the family until a curious cop in South Dakota stopped Susan’s car and did not believe the stories he heard from its young occupants. He called Roanoke police with his worries and the Texas officers entered the Bailey home to discover a house of murder: a woman dead in her own drying blood, a bowl of poisoned pudding, a long hank of hair and an electrical cord dangling into a bathtub.
Texas author Donna Fielder, whose first book, Ladykiller, was a national bestseller, details what led to the crime and describes the investigation by the law enforcement officers who solved it. But the heart of her story is Kate, Susan’s mom, who still today is conflicted by the fact that her beloved grandchildren murdered her daughter. Kate’s journal entries bring her agony right into the reader’s hearts.
Donna first learned about the case as a newspaper reporter who covered it. She was shocked to learn that children actually would carry out a conspiracy against their mothers and stab one of them twenty-six times. She learned about Jennifer and David, to all appearances normal kids, and Paul, who believed that one of his two personalities, was an executioner from the eighteenth century. She spoke to those three in their prison units and decided that the only one of them who admitted to the crime was the least culpable.
But Kate broke her heart. Kate asked her should she forgive her grandchildren for murdering her daughter. How can she? They cried together.
This book is a cautionary tale for parents who may be working so hard to provide for their children that they lose touch with them.
Learn more about Let’s Kill Mom, Donna, and her other books on her website.
Here’s actual footage from the moment the teens were pulled over, and commentary from Donna Fielder, Officer Kolda, and Paul Henson himself.