Michigan mother compared to Hitler…


Some people say the most ignorant things… this past summer I recall reading a story about a Michigan mother, Kelli Stapleton, attempting to kill both herself and her severely autistic daughter.  If I remember correctly, the story was in People magazine, or some other sort of periodical.  It was a total puff piece I thought, because the story didn’t do justice to the pain and suffering I know this woman had been through.

Many people were quick to condemn this poor woman, comparing her to Hitler, that she should be tried on hate crime charges, that life is about rising, not coasting (paraphrased from an NBC News story regarding this same incident).  Seriously?  Obviously such people have not a clue what it’s like to be in that situation, 24/7, day after day, 365 days a year, for YEARS.  Many people would crack under such stress, and have.  I believe the stress of being in such situations have been a significant factor in illnesses seen in people we know, including my wife.  It’s true, stress is a killer.

From what I’ve gathered Kelli Stapleton is facing life in prison.  This is so wrong.  She’s already been confined to her own personal hell for the last FIFTEEN years.  Prison will be vacation for her.  This is why there are extenuating circumstances, and why judges have the discretion to mete out punishment as is appropriate to the situation.  I could go on much more about this, but in the interest of keeping my posts brief, I’ll get off of my soapbox for now.

***UPDATE*** Learned that Kelli Stapleton was sentenced to 10-22 years in prison for first degree child abuse.  Too bad nobody intervened when Kelli’s behavior was displaying signs of someone about to go off the rails.  And I am struck with disbelief by the comments people have made about her.  Most of them obviously have never walked a mile in her shoes.

Because of our situation, I’m keenly aware of such stories when they come to light.  In our circle I know of a father who killed himself, unable to face another day in his situation.  When we lived in Ohio a woman in a town close to where we lived shot her autistic daughter, set her house to flames, and then shot herself.  And several times I have wondered about these stories of elopement, i.e., did the child really escape on their own, or did the parents purposely let them escape, with the hope of their child never being found?  I remember a story of two autistic boys wandering from the homes in the middle of a cold winter night, only to be found frozen to death.  Then there was a incident in Ohio where the step-parents of an autistic boy bound him with tape and left him in a closet for the weekend, for a much needed vacation apparently.  Yeah, he died.

I remember being at a pub in Florida one evening (‘Happy Hour’ with my coworkers), seeing a story on TV about an autistic girl being lost in the swamps of Florida.  Everyone around me paid no notice, except me.  I was riveted to the TV, thinking of all the horrible things that could happen to this girl.  Beyond the confines of suburban America, Florida is a very inhospitable place.  She was found covered in mosquito bites, but alive.  A miracle.

About graciesautism

Father of Gracie, who is autistic, and her sister Gabrielle (who is a typical). Sharing our stories in Gracieland.
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3 Responses to Michigan mother compared to Hitler…

  1. Criminal cases involving mental illness are complicated, but comparing her to HItler is better than being sympathetic. I have heard people say that such actions are reasonable, that people with Autism have lives not worth living, etc.

    If people with ASD who commit crimes because of the effects of stress and mental illness are demonized, why should not others? People, right now, are saying that people with ASD are dangerous and should be detained.

    There is a monster in all of us. What is the correct solution when it is let out?

    • So, if I understand you correctly, Kelli Stapleton deserves no sympathy? It is better to compare her to Hitler than dredge up any ounce of sympathy for this woman? Hitler was plain and simple evil, killing six million Jews because of his genocidal hatred, dragging the world into global war that cost about 50 million lives. Kelli was no monster. She was a grief-stricken mother at wit’s end, seeing no other solution in sight, other than suicide. Let’s keep this in perspective. Anyway, though we may not agree, I appreciate your reply.

      • You do not understand me correctly. Where did I write that she did not deserve sympathy?

        Hitler’s policies killed far more than Jews. In fact, they started with Aktion T4. Perhaps the comparision to Hitler of those who would kill those deemed to be medically unfit is not so inappropriate.

        I do not think comparing people to “Hitler” is rational. Hitler has been demonized and made inhuman to the extent that people forget the reality. He did not come out of nowhere and he had no original ideas. People forget the origins and I think that is dangerous.

        My response was not meant to give an “answer”, but to point out the complexity of the situation.

        It all depends on how one words it. You call her a grief-stricken mother, another could call her a murderous woman, another can call her mentally deranged and a threat to everyone including herself.

        Suicide is, I think, something which indicates irrational thought processes and a person who does or attempts that should be considered to be psychologically impaired and deserving of treatment. So no, I do not think she is a cold blooded killer, but a killer with severely disordered thinking. Either way, it is a case to be taken serious in regards to freedom in society.

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