I can’t remember if you specifically came out and told me about what was going on. Can you?
No, I don’t think I came out and told you until you probably heard something while we were on the phone.
That’s what I remember, too. I think we were on the phone one night and I heard all this noise, and you were like, “That’s my brother.” And then it dawned on me that that was why you never went home. Then, it was either the day after that or another night like that, you didn’t show up to school until lunch. At that point that was a pretty typical Katie thing, but you actually said to me, “Oh, I fell asleep in the laundry room ’cause I had to dry my clothes and I couldn’t leave my room last night and I couldn’t sleep.” That kind of stuff was going on a lot, but it seemed like you encouraged people to think you were just a rebellious kid. Why didn’t you talk about it to anyone but me and Ben and a few others, and why did you choose to tell us?
[My family] never talked about it, because we were kind of told that there wasn’t a lot we could do. The police were aware of the situation, but they couldn’t do anything. They would say, “We can bring him in, but it would only be for a couple hours, because he’s a minor.” I had the experience of being told, “You’re overreacting. It’s just sibling rivalry,” or “He’s just rambunctious.” Like he was a dog or something—like, This puppy is just rambunctious—it’s OK, he’ll grow out of it!
So it just didn’t seem like something to talk about [with anyone]: “How are you today?” “I’m fine. The math test blew. How about you?” “Yeah, my brother punched a hole through the wall and tore my door off its hinges.” It never seemed like the kind of thing you wanted to bring up because it became too real for everyone else. And I had this reputation where people thought, Oh, nothing matters to her. If I talked about [my brother], it would make it like, Oh, she’s one of those kids, the ones who have problems. I just didn’t want to be that person among these people who were like, “My biggest problem is I can’t get money for pot.”
But that had to make life a hell of a lot harder for you.
Yeah. Even some of the guys I was dating didn’t know what was going on.
You said the police were aware of the situation. How did you report it to them?
It usually went like this: David would act out, and then I’d say, “OK, let’s call the police,” and they’d say, “No, it’s OK, we’ll just give him what he wants,” or “They can’t do anything anyway,” or “I don’t want my business dragged through the mud or to air out my dirty laundry.” So a lot of it was me pushing my parents to talk to the police, but then they would edit things because they didn’t really want to see him to go jail, and they were afraid they would seem like bad parents. Then I’d have to go, “No, no, no, that’s not what happened.”
I was frustrated about that. When we finally got them to call the police in 2010, I remember telling them, “You’ve spent all this time worrying about how you let David down, and you’ve completely neglected Katie.” Because I felt like they needed to hear that. Had you ever said anything like that to them? Were you ever so frustrated that you wanted to walk away from the whole family? And if so, what kept you from doing that?
I’ve been taking care of my parents since I was 14 or 15. They have both been depressed over this situation, and the years of constant abuse from my brother have worn them down. My mom would stop eating and would sleep all the time while my dad was at work. I felt like I always needed to be there for them because otherwise they would have just given up. There were years when my mom would say things like, “I should have let him kill me.” It was just a sort of submission: This is our life, and he’s going to kill us. So I didn’t say anything to them like “You’re letting me down,” because if I had, they would say, “I’m sorry, I feel so bad.” They already felt bad enough.