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.