Monday, August 6, 2012

Deadly Little Secrets

The book by best-selling, true-crime author Kathryn Casey based on our case has finally hit the shelves.   

I pre-ordered it and had it on my Kindle ready to read when I woke up August 31st.  Dove right in and could not put it down until I was completely finished.  Wow.  Kathryn sure had her work cut out for her and man, did she rise to the occasion.  She was meticulous.  Fully researched. Very thorough. I appreciate very much how she held Hewitt PD accountable for their egregious errors and detailed just how much they wanted this case to simply disappear un-investigated, one might guess in order to cover up those errors forever.  I knew former Hewitt Police Chief Barton was more than non-helpful, but this book gets into the nitty-gritty of how absolutely profane he was in his treatment of the Dulins.  That was a surprise to me.  Truly appalling.   I also did not know the true depth of the private/political issues former DA Segrest had with one of the Dulin’s civil attorneys, Bill Johnston.  Shameful behavior.  I do certainly appreciate Justice of the Peace Billy Martin’s inquest into Kari’s death and for changing the death certificate from “Suicide” to “Undetermined.”  That made a HUGE difference in things moving forward.  But I just don’t know that I’ll ever get past the fact that he ruled a healthy, vibrant 31-year old wife and mother’s shocking death a suicide over the phone without any inkling of a desire to see the scene and circumstances for himself.   You can imagine how differently things could have been had he done so.

Enough of the dregs of this saga, let’s show our appreciation and applaud the heros in this Justice for Kari journey.  Thank you Ret. Texas Ranger, Matt Cawthon!  Thank you for truly listening to the Dulins early on and your discernment of the evidence coming to light and being a champion for truth and for Kari.  Thank you Bill Johnston and Darren Obenoskey for your years of dedication, hard work and genius legal work!  Thank you private investigators John Bennett and Mike McNamara for everything.  Simply everything.  Your dogged determination and relentless investigative pursuits found the evidence and witnesses that showed exactly who Matt Baker really was and the things he had done to cover his crimes.  Thank you to the District Attorney’s Investigator, Abdon Rodriguez, for being a “human lie detector” and for staying strong with Vanessa Bulls and getting her confessions and testimony before the Grand Jury and at Matt’s murder trial.  Thank you Assistant District Attorneys Crawford Long and Susan Shafer for….well….everything.  Thank you for listening.  Thank you for investigating.  Thank you for staying the course.  Thank you for the times it seemed to take so long because you were wanting to be doubly sure of everything and how to time things.  Thank you for the times you moved quickly when things were sure-shot.  Thank you for your heart.  Thank you for presenting the massive amount of evidence is such a way as to secure Matt’s murder conviction from the jurors.  Ultimately, thank you to the citizens of McLennan County that comprised the jury in Matt’s murder trial.  Thank you for your patience, your astute attention and integrity throughout the trial and even afterwards.  I so appreciate that through all above mentioned people, Matt’s deeds were uncovered and he was shown for the evil murderer he is.

Now, moving on the custody investigation and trial.   Many, many more thanks and kudos to the team that secured the girls’ ultimate safety and best interests.  Thank you to attorneys Darren Obenoskey from Waco and Pat Maguire from Kerrville.  You guys were an amazing team….each bringing your specific focus and legal talents to the courtroom.  A world of thanks to Kerrville private investigator, Gina Frenzel, for her dedication to finding the truth behind the scenes in the Baker household….past and present.  The results of her investigations showed in great detail and without a doubt that the girls needed to be with the Dulins and not kept in their current arrangement with Matt’s parents.  Thank you, also, to the citizens of Kerr County that sat on the jury for the custody case in Kerrville and took in all the facts and made the absolute right decision.  Know that the girls are doing amazingly well….beyond all expectations.  Know you did the right thing, no doubt.

Huge thanks going out to all the many, many supporters of Justice for Kari.   Your prayers, your involvement, your presence (both in body and in spirit)  made all the difference for everyone involved!

I did talk to Linda after we both read the book.  She told me she read it….and wept. However, she says that they will not live in that place and time.  While Kari will always be with them, they are focused on raising her daughters; it’s what Kari would want! They do not wish the girls to read this book at this time in their lives….wanting them to focus on growing up in the present and in living their lives to the fullest.  When they are adults and the professionals believe they are ready, Jim and Linda will have copies for them.  She feels that Kathryn did a wonderful job of providing a gripping story that unfolds the truth in an honest but sensitive manner.  She and Jim believe that this may eventually be a book that will help their granddaughters fully understand what happened to their mother, who their father is, and how the darkness of his own growing up years may have helped make him into the man he became (without excusing what he did). In the end, the Dulins want Kensi and Grace to know they don’t have to choose between families.  They want their granddaughters to know they SHOULD love their dad and the Baker family.  However, healthy love is not blind love or filled with lies.  The truth may be exactly what sets these precious girls free….when the time is right.

Tying this all up, there are lessons to be learned:
*   Listen to your gut and your instincts!
*   Hold law enforcement accountable.  Do not be bullied by badges when you know something is wrong!

If after reading the book you have any questions or want to start any discussions, please feel free to comment below.   I’ll see if Kathryn can stop by from time to time, too.  


keydun said...

Great job, Shannon....on many levels. I just want to echo my thanks to those you mentioned. An amazing team of professionals who wouldn't give up. The girls seem so happy now. To hear their laughter with friends fills my heart with joy.

Kathryn Casey said...

I'm happy to drop in and answer questions, Shannon. The book is an honest account of the case. I worked hard to be fair to everyone involved, and I believe that shines through. I'm proud to have written it but sorry that it had to be written, that Kari's story didn't end differently. She deserved so much more in life.

Austin said...

Shannon, you were one of many heroes in this case. I shudder to think what would have happened if no one had stood up for Kari. Matt would be walking scott-free now, I'm sure.

Ms. Casey, thank you for a well-researched and thoroughly gripping book. I had pre-ordered it for my kindle, forgotten about it, and was delighted when I realized it had arrived. From then on, I couldn't put it down until the last page. Thank you for exposing the truth of what happened to Kari. It may not be something her girls are ready to read now, but when the right time comes, they can read the truth for themselves. My heart goes out to them.

debBdooz said...

Just finished this fantastic book. What a colossal mess! So glad it worked out and I will continue to keep that precious family in my prayers.
Deb in Tex

Jana Lazarus said...

The book along with this website made for great reading! As I have said to my friend Lora, I still feel that Baylor University should be held accountable along with all of the other ministers, teachers, etc in Matt's life that shuffled him along to other places when the going got tough. If more people had reacted in the early years, he never would have had the opportunity to kill Kari. He is evil and the more he was allowed to get away with, the more he thought he was invincible! All of you who have put your hearts into getting justice for Kari and for telling the story are in my prayers! Job well done!

Diana said...

I just finished reading the book and it was wonderfully written - though heartbreaking at the same time. I worry about the girls, and just pray that time and space, along with love and understanding, will help them transition back into a much more stable, loving, unexploited life. To read that last section especially, and see how grown men and women were trying to manipulate them to further their own sicknesses and failings made me want to scream. I agree that Matt is a sick individual- but who really knows the whole story of WHAT contributed to his sickness? Leaving those children at the mercy of the same ones who helped form him would have been an incurable injustice. I have great admiration and respect for Kari's family, friends and supporters - YOU all rescued your daughter's memory and legacy and the lives of her children.

Amy said...

I just found the book, and 3/4 way through the case. My heart is broken for the whole family, and I am appalled by the lack of response from Hewitt PD and the justice of the peace. As far as I'm concerned, the JP should have his license taken away - too lazy to get out of bed, too lazy to ask pertinent questions, too proud to admit he made many errors, and take the opportunity to correct them. I won't even begin to get started on his total lack of regard for women, which is VERY clear from the description of his actions.

Kathryn Casey has done an awesome job (she is such a great writer!) at describing Kari so those of us who don't know her get a beautiful picture of a loving daughter, woman, mother, and wife.

To Jim, Linda, Kensi, Grace, and Kari's loving family - God's strength and love to you. I'm so sorry Matt Baker took your beautiful daughter/mom/sister/niece away from you.

Anonymous said...

To make a long story short, my mother, read this book and insisted i read it as well.

I began reading it this morning and did not set it down until i turned the very last page. I had to make sure that Kari got justice and that God prevailed.

As i read this book I was all too familiar with Matt. I had been married to a man and in a very similar situation. I have spent the last three years in a custody battle with my ex-husbands parents and have often felt as if I could fight no more...after reading about the fight that Kari's family fought for her and all that they endured so that those two beautiful girls had a chance at a healthy, loving home I know I too have to continue to fight.
Thank you so much for sharing this story with us and for giving others inspiration and courage to fight when it seems impossible.
Hopefully this book can inspire and empower others the way it has me...again, thank you and may God continue to watch over and comfort this family.

Natalie said...

I am half way through the book, and it broke my heart to see how callous and cold Matt Baker truly is. Kari seems like such a great loving kind woman, it would have been such a privledge to know her. You all are truly heros in my eyes, because you stripped away the layers to reveal the real Matt Baker, you never gave up on justice for Kari, and making sure that her beautiful daughters, have such a loving home with their grandparents. Linda seems like an amazing woman,Kari would be so proud of all of you.