This mom's tragic tale of how her son murdered his own baby sister will shake your faith in humanity
A mother's worst nightmare come true, and ten years later she is ready to speak about it.
Charity Lee is the mother of child-killer, Paris Bennett, 13-years-old. In a shocking twist of fate, an unfortunate and bizarre tragedy took place in the home of Charity Lee where Paris stabbed his 4-year-old half-sister in cold blood. This is any mother's worst and absolutely twisted nightmare which no one should have to go through.
To add to the already suffering mother's pain and despair, Charity Lee had to deal with a brutal confrontation with a random grocery shopper.
As Lee was getting towards the grocery store, a fellow shopper blocked her path. The random shopper went on to yell at Lee saying, "I know who you are. You should watch your son be executed because he is a monster and you raised him!"
Charity Lee was shaking in fear and horror at what the shopper was making her relive. She slowly replied, "Ma’am. I don’t know who you are, but you really need to get counseling." Lee left her shopping cart and proceeded to run out of the store.
Lee recalls how there have been many other similar incidents and situations. "But people often have one opinion at first, and then change it once they’ve talked to me and offer compassion," she said to the New York Post.
This woman's story of love, grief, forgiveness was featured in a popular documentary, The Family I Had, which aired on Investigation Discovery. Lee was finally able to speak about the horror which broke up her family 10 years ago. She only had the courage and strength to share her story.
Lee is a prison right's activist who tries to hold on to the memory of her daughter, Ella, by going to visit her now 24-year-old son in jail. Paris Bennett is serving a 40-year long sentence which is the maximum sentence that a juvenile in Texas can serve and will only be allowed parole in the year 2027.
"I have forgiven Paris for what he did, but it’s an ongoing process. If he was free [from captivity] I would be frightened of him. The fact that he is incarcerated gives me peace of mind, but I worry about his own safety."
But this kind of violence has followed Lee all her life. Back in 1980, when Lee was just six years old, police found the body of her father, Bobby Bennett Jr., in his home outside Atlanta, Ga., shot several times in the back of the head; police thought it looked like an execution. Lee’s mother, Kyla Bennett, soon became a prime suspect in the murder.
Kyla Bennett was eventually charged with hiring a hit man to kill her husband. During the course of the sensational trial, prosecutors put on evidence that in the months before her husband’s murder, Lee’s mother had discussed arranging his killing with a part-time truck driver. However, Kyla Bennett was acquitted of the murder charges.
Lee then grew up with her mother but had become addicted to cocaine by the time she entered her teens. A habit which would go on to haunt her later on in life.
Lee remembers the fateful day when she got the news from the cops almost 10 years ago. The cops approached her at a Buffalo Wild Wings near Abilene where Lee was working as a waitress. She remembers the very conversation which would change her life forever, "And I was saying: ‘you need to take me to Ella now’ and they were like: ‘You can’t go … she’s dead."
"And that made no sense because I knew that I’d left her at home with a babysitter and her brother, so I said, ‘Is my son OK?’ And they said, ‘We have him.’ … That’s when everything stopped making sense."
Lee revealed how Paris was a very gifted child with an IQ of 141 and somehow talked the babysitter into leaving. According to detectives, this is when he grabbed a kitchen knife and went to stab his baby sister as she lay sleeping in her bedroom.
He mercilessly beat, choked, and stabbed his sister. He went on to ring up his school friend and only then did he attempt to call 9-1-1. Paris even pretended like he was following the dispatcher's instructions and directions on how to perform CPR. However, cops found no evidence of any attempt to give aid.
Paris initially claimed that the reason he murdered his sister was that he saw a hallucination of her in which she was inflamed and had taken on a demonic form. Eventually admitted the true reason he killed her and it is beyond scary and shocking; he said he woke up that morning wanting to kill someone.
Lee tried to believe Paris’ version of events, reports the SACurrent. That changed when she got Ella’s autopsy report weeks later. “Before reading that, I had no idea Ella had suffered as much as she did,” she said. Then, she read reports that detectives had discovered semen on the bed where they found Ella and inside the shorts Paris was wearing that night.
"Ella was an easy target — predators don’t ever pick on anybody bigger than themselves," Lee said. Paris revealed to the detectives and investigators that his initial target was his mother and that his plan was to kill her when she returned from work.
"The second reason was the realization if he’d killed me, I only would have suffered for five, 10, 15 minutes. But, if he left me alive [without Ella], I would suffer for the rest of my life."
One of the biggest reasons that Paris wanted to kill/ hurt his mother was because she was a former heroin addict who stopped doing drugs before her son was born. However, she had a relapse and found herself addicted to cocaine when Paris was 9 and Ella, 2.
“It was like a good six-month period I was back using,” Lee said. “I know it had an impact on him. … It’s the one thing, that huge regret I wish I could go back and change.”
"The fact is, it made him angry and he chose to handle it that way [by killing Ella]."
Charity is a truly remarkable woman who refuses to abandon her son and says that her maternal instincts overtake the anger and horror.
During the filming of the show, The Family I Once Had, Paris was interviewed behind bars and revealed to the directors, Carlye Rubin and Katie Green,"I chose to do my crime and I take full responsibility for my crime. And I wouldn’t say there was a predisposition to what happened."
In the year 2012, God blessed Lee with a miracle in the form of a third child Phoenix. She is happy and relieved at the fact that the prison rules ban Paris from having any visitors under the age of 17-years-old. "If Paris wasn’t in prison or was able to meet Phoenix, I would have to do a lot more soul-searching," she said.
Butterflies became Ella's symbol after the child's preschool teachers gave Lee a beautiful picture of the insect that Ella had painted. When Lee finally had the courage to go back to the murder house, a friend found a butterfly brooch. Lee even has a whole bunch of butterfly tattoos to always keep her daughter close.
She has even started a nonprofit organization known as ELLA Foundation which stands for Empathy, Love, Lessons, and Actions. The organization looks to help people going through any sort of trauma as well as people in the criminal-justice system.
Thanks to Phoenix, Lee seems to have got some life back but will always hold on to the memory of her daughter, Ella.
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