Sunday, October 14, 2018
Bizarre News

‘This world is a better place without her’: A family’s savage final send-off to their mother

The obituary is short and decidedly unsweet, a grand total of 105 words spread over five increasingly savage paragraphs.

It starts with the birth of Kathleen Dehmlow (nee Schunk) in the winter of 1938 and her marriage to Dennis Dehmlow 19 years later, all in the tiny Minnesota city of Wabasso. Two children came from that marriage - Gina and Jay.

But the death notice quickly fast-forwards to 1962, apparently a pivotal year in the soap opera of Kathleen Dehmlow’s life - and her children’s.

"In 1962 she became pregnant by her husband’s brother Lyle Dehmlow and moved to California," the obituary reads, spiraling. "She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay who were then raised by her parents in Clements, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schunk."

By the fifth paragraph, it is clear what her children feel about their mother - and her chances in the hereafter:

"She passed away on May 31, 2018 in Springfield and will now face judgement. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her."

"Gina and Jay" could not be immediately reached for comment. It’s unclear what motivated them to write the scathing obituary, or to publish it in the Redwood Falls Gazette, the paper of record of Dehmlow’s home town, a 0.8-square mile patch of Minnesota with fewer than 700 people. If the five-paragraph obituary provides a window into Kathleen Dehmlow’s life, it is a jaded and incomplete one.

It’s not unheard of for aggrieved family members to use the last words written about a person to get the last word, said Susan Soper, an expert on obituaries and the creator of a workbook that helps people write their own. Others have used obituaries to shed light on the damaging addictions that consumed their loved ones. The motivations of family members can be as simple as they are powerful: Catharsis, bitterness, anger.

"People don’t generally speak ill of the dead," Soper told The Washington Post. "In fact, sometimes they will . . . put the best possible face on a person in the obituary and overlook whatever the misdeeds or characteristics that might be unpleasant.

"But not always," Soper continued. "There are plenty of obituaries that have been very honest and truthful about the hurt that someone has caused - or the misdeeds they have committed."

For example, Marianne Therese Johnson-Reddick’s daughter outlined many of her mother’s sins in a 2013 death notice.

"Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013," the obituary read. "She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible . . . Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit."

Perhaps even more scathing than the words in the newspaper was the essay Katherine Reddick wrote in XO Jane, explaining why she wrote it.

According to her daughter, Johnson-Reddick beat her children during hours-long tantrums, routinely hurled whatever was in reach at them, and also encouraged them to steal from neighbors, beat each other and sleep silently on the kitchen floor while she worked as an escort. On weekend nights, she would go out on the town, drugging the younger children so they wouldn’t cause trouble and forcing the older ones to subsist on dog food.

Reddick said the obituary "expressed authentic and heartfelt reflections about a woman who never resembled a mother. . .

"For myself, it took her death to no longer fear her sudden and unexpected rants of abuse," she wrote.

"Even though I am older, happier and much gentler, I’ve never felt a greater sense of peace or relief than the day my brother called me singing "Ding, dong, the witch is dead."

The family of Leslie Ray ‘Popeye’ Charping, of Galveston, Texas, was similarly elated at his passing last year and maintained no enduring concerns about speaking ill of the dead.

According to CNN, they posted a scathing obituary on the Carnes Funeral Home website, shortly before cremating Charping and unceremoniously placing his ashes in a barn.

"Leslie’s hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets and fishing . . . With Leslie’s passing he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend."

Obituary confessions are, of course, not always so morbid.

For example, in 2012, Val Patterson, a scientist from Salt Lake City admitted in his mostly lighthearted obituary that he didn’t actually have a doctorate in engineering - and that he hadn’t even graduated from college:

"What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters ‘PhD’ even stood for.

"For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I’m sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work."

Comments
Woman with ‘emotional support squirrel’ removed from plane at Orlando airport

Woman with ‘emotional support squirrel’ removed from plane at Orlando airport

Police at a Florida airport removed a passenger who refused to get off a Cleveland-bound flight after she was found carrying an "emotional support squirrel."Passengers had already boarded Frontier Airlines Flight 1612 at Orlando International Airport...
Published: 10/10/18
A gecko - no kidding - placed phone calls from a marine-mammal hospital

A gecko - no kidding - placed phone calls from a marine-mammal hospital

Veterinarian and seal expert Claire Simeone was just about to settle down and enjoy her lunch when her cellphone rang.Work was calling, and as director of the Marine Mammal Center's Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Simeo...
Published: 10/09/18
Maintenance worker finds skeletal remains at Gibsonton mobile home park

Maintenance worker finds skeletal remains at Gibsonton mobile home park

A maintenance worker uncovered skeletal remains Wednesday morning while working at a mobile home park in Gibsonton.The remains were located at the Bull Frog Creek Mobile Home Park, 11211 East Bay Road, around 8:45 a.m. Detectives are still waiting fo...
Published: 10/03/18
A slippery slap to the face: The instant legend of a kayaker, seal and octopus

A slippery slap to the face: The instant legend of a kayaker, seal and octopus

In the azure waters off the coast of New Zealand, a primal scene was unfolding.A seal had an octopus in its teeth, the eight-limbed mollusk flailing, fighting for its life. Then, a kayaker - bright yellow watercraft and life vest, cap, sunglasses and...
Updated one month ago
Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers is its dropping its brand name in exchange for something slimmer: "WW." The company says the new logo - coupled with the tagline "Wellness that Works" -- puts an emphasis on overall health and well being, with less...
Updated one month ago
This is what happens to a shy octopus on ecstasy

This is what happens to a shy octopus on ecstasy

If you give an octopus MDMA, it will get touchy and want to mingle.What sounds like the premise of a children's book set at Burning Man is, in fact, the conclusion of a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. Neuroscientist Gül ...
Updated one month ago
A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

Before pulling the trigger, the professor was thoughtful.Mark J. Bird had been at the College of Southern Nevada for more than two decades in the department of human behavior. He had a feel for the rhythms of the school day, the timetables of when st...
Updated one month ago
Texas grandma kills 12-foot gator, says she’s finally avenged her miniature horse

Texas grandma kills 12-foot gator, says she’s finally avenged her miniature horse

A Texas great-grandmother thinks she’s finally gotten revenge on the massive alligator that ate her miniature horse a few years ago.It took just one shot for Judy Cochran to dispatch the 12-foot, 580-pound gator at her ranch Sunday in Goodrich...
Updated one month ago
Novelist who wrote about ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ charged with murdering her husband

Novelist who wrote about ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ charged with murdering her husband

Nancy Crampton Brophy seemed to have a knack for writing about the murder of spouses.The Portland-based romance novelist authored books about relationships that were "wrong" but "never felt so right," often featuring bare-chested men on the cover. In...
Updated one month ago