Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Murder and Pastry Collide


In March, I wrote a post about the arrest of a desperate mother who stole a jar of yeast in order to bake bread to feed her hungry children.  I was moved by the story, which I had read in Denis Hamill's column in the New York Daily News, as were thousands of others and the ending was happy: readers donated money to the impoverished mother, and authorities connected her to the social services she needed.

But is she a con artist?  That's what an anonymous commenter on my blog claims. And even more interesting, s/he notes that the mother, Margaret Deming, is the daughter of notorious serial killer Arthur Shawcross, aka "The Genessee River Killer" who murdered 11 women near Rochester, New York, from 1988 to 1990. He died in prison.

Does biology/genetics determine destiny, in this case criminal behavior?  Is Margaret Deming doomed by her family history?

I don't know the answer, but that question is addressed in one of my favorite 1950s film, The Bad Seed, in which a child named Rhoda (pictured above and played by Patty McCormick) is truly a bad seed (she kills people) and is later revealed to be adopted, and her biological father a serial killer.

10 comments:

  1. That is one of my favorite movies of all time! Gimme them shoes Leroy!!! Oh, I just love it!

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    1. I love that line (and your name)! Thanks for writing.

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  2. One can argue nature versus nurture; however, who Ms. Deming is may not necessarily change the circumstances under which she shoplifted.

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    1. Dawn -- Excellent point, as always.

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  3. Oh, that movie was chilling. I recognized the picture of the little girl immediately.

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    1. Yes, it was! And during my search for a photo, I saw pictures of her all grown up (and she didn't look scary at all!)

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  4. Hi, I am engaged to Sean deming ( number three of Maggie's 7 children). Without causing to much uproar I just wanted to clarify some details. Maggie met Arthur when he was in prison(sometime around the mid to late 90s) while studying to get her degree in psychology. (She was interviewing him for a paper she had to write). Over the course of the interviews they became very close and she even brought some of the kids to meet him. I don't know all of the details but over a period of time he asked Maggie if he could adopt her and she said yes (weather it was because she felt sorry for him or genuinely cared for him I don't know). Maggie and my fiancés family have had a very hard life but I can assure you that nobody in that family is a con artist and they are not biologically related to Arthur in any way.

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    1. Interesting story, Jessica. Thanks for writing, and congratulations on your engagement.

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    2. Too bad Jessica made all that up about Maggie not being Arthur's biological daughter. Watch Interview with a Serial Killer (2008) on Netflix. They are related.

      Side note: A picture of the family is featured in the documentary with Maggie's daughter wearing a BURZUM shirt (picture here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Shawcross#/media/File:Arthur_Shawcross_et_al.jpeg) Burzum is a notorious neo-nazi musical project headed by a guy who is a convicted murderer. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burzum).

      Weird, huh?

      I'd lean towards your original con-artist conclusion in regards to Maggie Deming.

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  5. I find it hard to believe she didn't go to a church food pantry before thinking about shoplifting. Also her family qualifies for food stamps. Based on her states eligibility and the amount of children they have the amount of food stamps would be atleast $800 a month. Stealing yeast? Sure she bakes her own bread and had the other ingredients already instead of stealing loaves of bread. I'd like to know what the parents spent the food stamps on. Because I seriously doubt they didn't apply or receive them since they're both trying to get ssi disability. Sounds typical of parents who have a lot of children but use their govt resources on their habits rather than using it towards their kids.

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