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Dear Mr. Kiser, I've been following your story for several months since seeing the report on the news in Jacksonville. I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming forward with this information. You have helped heal my soul by answering so many questions. My children and I are some of the "repercussions" of that horrible place. I debated over whether or not what I have to say would matter to anyone or not. My first husband, Johnny (last name removed), drank himself to death at the age of 37 so there isn't any way of verifying any of this. I guess since part of it was told to me and my son by Johnny, it would all be considered hearsay. However, I find myself going back to your website over and over again and, today, I decided to put it all down in this email.
I was one of the young girls in Jacksonville who came from a good home and loving family that ended up being married and having children with someone that I met right after he was released from Marianna in 1963. He had been sent there for running away from an abusive home and skipping school. He was like a broken bird and I thought I could heal him. All he needed was love. I was 13 and he was 15 when we met. Like most teenagers, we broke up many times but kept finding our way back to each other. We ended up getting married when I was 20 and he was 22. My happiness didn't last very long. He began cheating on me and drinking heavily. Then the physical abuse began with the usual apologies afterward. During one of his binges, he began telling me about his childhood and his time spent in Marianna. He had never talked about it before. He told me that he was beaten so badly one time that his friend had to pick his underwear out of his skin. Having lead the sheltered life that I had, I thought he was just exaggerating so I would feel sorry for him and forgive him for the beating he had just given me. So, I spent 8 years living in fear of him and afraid to leave him. I tried once but he found me and I ended up in the emergency room getting stitches in my face. We had two sons and when the physical abuse started being inflicted on them, I knew I had to find a way to get them out. I didn't want my children, then 3 and 7, to grow up to be like him. I had to go to another State to do that and he eventually gave up on us coming back. When my children were 8 and 12, I had this overwhelming feeling that they really needed to know their father. We had moved back to Jacksonville and he was living in Louisiana. His family assured me that he was not drinking any longer and I should let them visit him. When they returned home from an extended visit I found out that he had beaten them and threatened them if they told me about it. My oldest son told me that he was drinking all day, and well into the night, every day. I have had to live with the fact, for all these years, that I exposed them to this horror. It hasn't been easy and I feel it has caused them irreparable damage. They are both in their 30's now and neither have been able to sustain a long relationship. But, they are good, decent men and I am very proud of them. They spend a lot of time controlling their temper.
My oldest son took the brunt of his father's constant anger. On the day I decided I had to leave my husband, he had beaten my oldest son while I was at work. He was only 7 and the whole back of his body was black from the bruises. I'm sitting here crying as I think about that day. He and I have always been extremely close. Sometimes I think it is because we both endured so much together. When I saw your story on the news, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. You see, I had spent the past 40 years thinking that somehow it must have been my fault. All of the abuse and hatred we suffered had to be because of something I did, right? I eventually made the decision to tell my oldest son about your website. I told him that I thought I had finally found the reason his daddy was the way he was and encouraged him to read everything on the site. I went to his house a few days later and he told me that he had sat up all night reading your website. He also told me something that he had never told me before. He said that one night when he was with his daddy in Louisiana, his daddy got really drunk and started talking to him. It seems he told him that he had killed someone when he was young. He said when he was in reform school in Marianna, several guards came and got him and some of the other boys in the middle of the night and took them out into an area by a fence. He said the guards gave them all guns and told them that when the spotlights came on they were to begin shooting. If they missed the targets, they would be shot. The lights came on and there were a bunch of black boys running across the field. They all started shooting at them. They were then taken back, told to go back to bed and never speak of it again or it would be them the next time. My son just took it as the ramblings of a drunk and didn't think anything else about it until we read your page.
I don't know if any of this information will help you in any way or not. But thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and for making me and my children know that the things my husband did wasn't because of anything I did. I am now 60 years old and almost my entire life was affected by what these monsters did so long ago. Bless you and all of the other White House Boys in your fight for justice.