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Inflammatory comments will not be published, but positive and negative criticism is both accepted and encouraged. These letters are entirely unedited and uncensored.
Comment: Amy – Welcome to the ugly, vicious underbelly of conservatism…
I saw the episode with Paula Zahn and fervently SUPPORT you . I’m a (retired/disabled) attorney and SURVIVOR of LT sexual abuse. IMO, we have no alternative. We must make an effort to discover how predators become predators.
There is a lot of phony sympathy toward victims of child abuse. I say phony since there is a complete disconnect when they become adults who had horrible childhoods. (Consider Aileen Wuornos).
How does the attempt to understand the evolution of a predator become the effort to excuse what they do? The same dysfunctional, black and white thinking was at work when people were excoriated for asking about the “why” of 9/11.
Since when has burying one’s head been an effective way to deal with social problems? Yet – we do it with poverty, homelessness, human rights abuses… Was the Enlightenment wiped away while I was sleeping?
Self- righteous christians rail against showing compassion toward these guys. I’m sure that Sister Helen Prejean would agree. Isn’t our level of humanity measured by how we treat the least among us?
Female victims of abuse turn the rage in on themselves, inflicting self -harm. That alone should have us scratching our heads.
The victims rights advocacy movement has a lot in common with the monsters they hate. They both aim to find ways to make people suffer. I’ve had people come right out and say that offenders have no right to food and medical care… I think they’d bring back crucifixion if they could get away with it. They don’t seem to get it that the constitution does not empower us to sentence someone to “suffering” and death… Or “suffering” and prison. Thank goodness for the 8th Amendment!
I’m appalled by the sense of entitlement of families who think they have the “right” to demand a death sentence for their loved one’s murderer(s). US incarceration rates are a human rights embarrassment! Increasingly draconian punishments accomplish nothing except an increasingly ridiculous tax burden. Don’t we have some responsibility to try to understand the way people become “monsters” so we can intervene with young offenders?
The conservative answer is to throw them away: execute young offenders – or sentence them to LWoP! We have almost 2400 juveniles sentenced to LWoP while the rest of the world has FOURTEEN. Does that trouble anyone else? Plenty of Americans support the DP for middle school murderers.
I’m sure you read the moaning and groaning about the “liberal” Supreme Court when it outlawed the DP for juvenile murderers. That sent a shiver down my spine. Maybe the wackos predicting the end of days are right! It takes a depraved society to demand the execution of little kids.
Sorry for the rant. Childhood abuse is the gift that keeps on giving. It NEVER ever goes away. Even with therapy. There is so much phony sympathy for kids who are abused. Phony bc it evaporates when the abused become adults. We owe it to these once abused kids – to find out how their lives went so wrong. If we don’t owe it to them – we owe it to their future victims!
Your thoughts would be welcome. -Sue-Donovan, September 24, 2014 at 8:47 am
Comment: hello i like to say that i think its extremly filty that you are stil working on the brent brents case hi raped people and distroy there future and you becam his friend let him call you and right letters to him i think its really disrespecfull that after so manny years you still tel his story on internet. this man dont care about you at all hi just wans to be remembert and you help him with that you should be a shamed of yourself dont you understand that if hi have the chance hi will rape your own children and hi will enjoy it so dont feel speciaal i cannot beliefe a mother can infolve herself with a low life like him i dont care hi was raipt or abused there is no exuse for his behafor you have no shame at all and you dont respect his vitims are you in love with him??? wat is rong with you!!!!!!!!!!!!! maybi its you who need help go to a docter -Nicole 11/27/2012
Note from Amy: I understand that this topic brings up a lot of strong emotions for some people, and I don’t expect everyone to understand that I tell Brent’s story in order to shed light on this type of violence, and how it might be prevented–because we are ultimately all responsible for each other. The book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, explains this. -Amy Herdy
I am a therapist that works with traumatized children and was deeply touched by this book. The stories I have heard and seen in re-enacted during play therapy sessions are disturbing and heart breaking. I cried through much of this book–something I don’t allow myself to do while providing therapy.
When children live with constant horror and abuse in their home, the effects run deep. Add to that abandonement, then you have the perfect recipe for disaster. I find hope in reaching children while they still have a chance to heal. Sadly, often the system fails to protect them despite best intentions. Thank you for this heartwrenching story and for giving me faith that the work I do just might make a difference.
Hi Amy, So this morning i woke up, and though ‘valentines day’ then thought ‘ugh. Brent Brents’. I did a search and found your site & book. 7 years ago today i had my near-brush with him… I had just gotten back in town from a vacation and had no idea there was a serial rapist in denver/cap-hill. It was valentines day and I was driving to my boyfriends house with a gift and expecting to have dinner. I cut through the neighborhood behind Cheesman, and stopped at a 4-way-stop like no other. The victimized grandmother flagged me down and i let her in my car, and that night turned into something crazy.. As you know BB affected a lot of people, even me.. my world was messed up and i left that night scared, upset, and mad at myself for not doing or trying to do any more that night.. I hate valentines day, and i know why. But i don’t dare complain too much because what i went through doesn’t compare to what any of the victims went through. i’ll never forgive myself for not doing more. I guess the point of my email is to ask if you know if the Grandmother and 2 grand-daughters are ok now?
Amy, I just finished reading your book and I have to tell you that I am moved by it. Thank you for being brave enough to show the other side of the story- Brents’ side. I feel extreme sorrow for his victims, but also for Brents. I have see first hand the damage a parent can do when being neglectful and abusive to a child as I watched my fiance stuggle with addiction that eventually killed him. I understand how somebody can grow up to be what some call a “monster” when all you have is negative influences around you. It was also wonderful to hear your journey through meeting and getting to know Brents. It puts journalism in to a new perspective for those who are unfamiliar with it. It saddens me that Brent Brents’ never stood a chance and will never get a chance to live with positive and loving influences around him. Please give him my regards as I ask the universe to bring him the peace he so deserves.
-Jenn R., 1/13/2012
Hiya, I just finished reading your book and I have to say it was amazing. I am very interested in the criminal mind and am sure I have missed my calling as a criminal psychologist/forensic person and this is the book I have been waiting for. I watch loads of show on serial offenders, loads of psychology, read true crime, etc, and the ‘why’ has always fascinated me. I found myself laughing at Brent, crying with you, and getting so angry at the reporter who got him put into solitary that it surprised me!! I would like to thank you for writing this book, for the courage it took both you and Brent Brents to write it and for the compassion you have. I am a Wiccan and my husband is a Buddhist, and I am filled with empathy for people who others shudder to think how anyone could have. We are always trying to grow in that way and to use compassion as our compass and you have shown me a new way to do so, you and other people in the book, such as Margaret and Ellen (I think? woman who lost her daughter in a car crash). There is always, always, another story underneath the ones we see on the surface and you have proved that in a way that totally surprised me. I feared he would kill himself before he found something worthy in himself to himself, and that fact surprised me. I really felt sorrow and sadness for how his life ended up. And I hope that he continues to grow in the way he was in the book. To feel that in spite of what he did his life is worth something. Amazing. Thanks for writing this book, thanks for showing it from the side of the predator and thanks to Brent for being so honest. It will stay with me forever, the story and the lesson. Thanks to you both. Great courage you both displayed. Amazing.
Dear Amy, I have just finished reading this book ”Diary of a Predator” and I would first like to congratulate you on being the PERFECT Author for writing it-it was an amazing read, although very sad and it I was somewhat shocked by the amount of raw emotions it brought to the surface! Secondly, I would like to ask you a Question: Would/have you considered writing the true accounts of Brent’s younger Brother ‘Brandy’- as everybody is probably more than aware that he also went on to Sexually Assault & Kidnap, didn’t he? It would be very interesting to find out why he was led on the same path of his older brother Brent- guaranteed it was more than likely his appauling childhood/upbringing! Perhaps it’s something you may have considered? I think it, also, (like Brent’s) would make interesting reading, although understanably not as highly acclaimed-and again I consider you to be the best Author to take on Brandy’s story, too. Anyway, enough of the ”Bigging up Amy” and congratulations on the book & it’s Huge Success (I’m in the UK so not to sure how well it has done over here, but it sure did fantastic in the USA-so I hear!) Hope you manage to read this message and it would be a privilege if you was to reply!
Brent my name is Shelly Rena Brents i am the child of a monster as you know. We have the same father. I think we have a choice in life i choose not to be a product of my gentics.You made a choice to become what you are. We all have a past we must deal with. Some of us talk or cry and some of us Brents relive the crimes that were done to us on others. you made a choice.
-Shelly Brents, 11/29/2011
I think Mrs. Herdy has fooled herself into this weird dynamic of grossly misplaced empathy, I say “fooled” because she has subconsciously designed a venue of the expression, of not so much empathy, as identification. We all carry psychological “demons” and even primal urges too violent to express in polite society, but Mrs. Herdy has acheived a way to express hers through this unhealthy yet oddly accepted genre of writing, and doing so under the cover of an alleged mere “reporter”.
I certainly don’t expect everyone who visits this site to understand its message or its purpose. And you are entitled to your opinion, but as for your assessment of my subconscious, my motives and my credentials, you’re wrong.
Its such a sad situation. It makes one wonder that if with the proper upbringing or medication, would any of this had happened. No one wins here.I have much more to say. But not right now. I saw the show on Paula Zahn,and read many articles, quite a story.
Amy – I am glad you delved into this story for several reasons. First, I was sexually abused by my stepfather from the age of about 12 to 17. My mother knew he had been messing with my sister and she knew I was the favourite but she never acknowledged the problem even when I screamed he was a pervert and I was not going to undress and get into bed with him standing there. Later that evening I ran away. My mother was emotionally cruel, abusive and constantly demeaning me and telling me that my grandmother’s pleasure over my good grades was meaningless because I could now draw like my sister. I moved out at 17, my sister had left, my mother asked me to move out with her to share an apartment and maybe we could develop a really good relationship if it was just the two of us. Two weeks before we were to move she told me that my stepfather would be destroyed if she left him so she guessed I would not be moving in. I was the on seeing a psychiatrist and suicidal but once again she chose the pedophile with no hesitation. Yes I was angry like Brent. Yes I wanted to hurt people like Brent. Yes I wished my parents were dead. But all the anger and self-destruction were turned inward rather than outward like Brent. I hurt myself, tried to destroy myself. That does not make me really different from Brent – I just don’t cross the lines that get the cops going after you. I have being seeing a therapist on and off for the past 40 years. He is my friend, my father, a man to measure myself against, a man who teaches me other ways of coping than anger and when that does not work we talk of non-destructive ways to express my anger. I am currently leading a very happy life and have a wonderful family of my own I am not a Christian or a believer of a higher being. I think that as humans we have to teach our children to be kind and helpful and compassionate because it will be the kind of treatment they want people from others. Brent was taught nothing about alternative behaviours, thoughts, or kindness or compassion. If society is going to continue to show no compassion for these people and if they cannot forgive then we will not be capable of bringing up a group of children with moral and ethical reasons to behave well. I am horrified by those who think that our politicians, businessmen, parents and financial institutions all continue to act in only their own best interests, then we are creating a society that is unwilling to intervene on children’s behalf, unwilling to put money towards re mental healthy treatment and unwilling even see that there is a problem. Thanks Amy for going farther. I hope you have not suffered too much in the process. And let Brent know that there but for fortune and Canada’s universal access to mental health care, go I.
Hi again Brent, just wanted to let you know that you ARE doing something good — something AMAZING, with this website and your openness and honesty in sharing who you are. Please know that at least one person thinks you are doing something very good. We all do good and bad things, we get hurt, we hurt others — only the severity of these acts differs amongst us. The severity of your past acts, to me, speaks to the severity of pain you had/have inside. I feel that through this website you are doing much good now, and you never know how it will play out in the big picture. Truth is good, and you are doing much truth-telling.
Brent, if you’re reading this, I’ve been reading this website for hours and feeling much empathy for you, and can really feel your torment. If you were let out of prison and I lived near you, I would be scared of you. I feel bad for saying this and I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but it’s the truth. It’s a primal survival, self-care thing, not because of judgment necessarily, but because you say you constantly wrestle with violent thoughts, and that others wouldn’t be safe if you were a free man (correct me if I’m wrong). That said, I feel that prisons as they stand today are horrible places and dehumanizing and in no way “corrective” or “rehabilitating”, they only make distressed prisoners more distressed. I wish there was a medium — something like constant supervision of violent prisoners in order to ensure safety of self and others, but with some humanity and compassion attached to it. May I ask, what would be your ideal vision if you could wave a wand and make it happen, past mistakes aside? Do you think you could 100% stop yourself from hurting others in those moments that your rage comes flooding through your mind, if you were a free man?
It was so difficult for me to trust counselors ,as much as, my parents or the police. I was personally bullied by a much more physically mature student at school who even at that age was adept at picking out those who were weaker into doing his dirty work. After,severe bullying I decided to befriend him and that’s when he started sexually abusing me on almost a daily basis. One would think you would go right to your parents or school staff,however,they would have made the matter much worse as they couldn’t protect me all the time.
I never wanted to go to school so my step dad who had been physically beating me for years got a great oppourtunity to unleash his sadistic brand of child abuse. I couldn’t win. Tell the the truth and school would have been a worse hell for me. Plus,being prepubesent I felt dirty at the things I was forced to do.
Look for with who suddenly become withdrawn, afraid to go to school. Remember,they don’t trust adults and you must treat all overt signs of home physical abuse but remember you must walk a fine line as what are their options? Mine was boys school.
If I seem a bot emotional now;well I am. If I can be of any further help please let me know!
How much of your soul did you lose while you undertook this “project”. Did your obsession with this project cost you a personal life? I can understand your curiosity and interest. I mean who hasn’t wanted to get inside the mind of a predator and find out what makes him/her tick; what is the “back story” to their crimes, what motivated them, what happened to them? I was molested as a child. I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family; however, I did not grow up to commit monstrous acts against innocent people because I was projecting the anger I felt towards my perpetrators onto others. Yes, you got your story. Yes, you wrote your book. What did you sacrifice to get them? Was it worth it?
Thank you for writing. As for your question of what did I lose while undertaking this project? –You hit the point exactly. Because the tremendous irony here is the assumption that being exposed to someone like Brent Brents will only cause you grave harm, and instead, it brought me to a new level of understanding and empathy which I didn’t have before. I will never be the same, and I’m grateful for that. I’m very frank in the book of detailing what covering this case was like. I came out of it in a better place.
As for a cost to a personal life–I’ve had far, far worse tolls from stories than anything from the Brents case. The year before I started that project, I finished one that investigated how cases of sexual assault and domestic violence are mishandled in the U.S. military. That series prompted reforms in Congress and the military. And cost me a personal life, and my health, for a time. I write about that in the book, as well.
I’m sorry you were molested as a child. And please don’t mistake my exposure of Brent’s own childhood abuse as an excuse for the horror he inflicted upon others. It explains it, but does not excuse it. And I believe that understanding is the first step in prevention.
Thank you for your work with B Brent. It is only by understanding and investigation that we can one day
(perhaps) prevent such actions. He is now rendered harmless to society so there is no reason why we should not look at how this man came about and maybe find what we can do to stop such behavior. I admire what you have done.
-M Avard RPAC, MPH, 6/1/ 2011
I just saw a documentary on Brent Brents’ case and interviews with you. I would like to thank you and applaud your efforts, as you are asking the questions that all of our societies shoud be asking themselves. Your critics seem to harp on the fact that by listening to Brent (and exploring the “why?”) you are somehow sanctioning his actions. This I think is perhaps the greatest challenge in fighting violence and abuses of power (in all there forms.) Our societies are so focused on “crisis management, after the fact” rather than “prevention” that no one can ever see beyond the real issue. Does a society/community have a responsibility (under the legal standard of due diligence) to prevent these “monsters” from being created in the first place?
Violent (and any criminal) elements of our society in all cases were brought up in violent and/or dysfunctional environments. So do community members and institutions who chose to ignore, and thereby sanction abuse, not have a responsibility for the violence, crimes, etc. that are later committed?
While it is true that not everyone who was abused as a child, grows up to be abusive or violent. It is true that all those who are abusive and violent, were abused as children
I read one comment posted here that said “we are all brought up in abusive environments…” This person has absolutely no idea what torture and horrors so many of these children live on a daily basis for years on end, and the permanent damage done to their psyche.
I could go on for hours on this subject…. – see my posts/articles on worldpulse.com.
Once again thanks so much for having the courage to speak up, write your book, and “put some important questions on the table.”
The next step is exposing the failure of institutions (and members of society) to protect victims (particularly children) and “break the cycle.”
-Quenby Wilcox, 6/30/2011
Hi Amy. I just saw your Brent Brents story on Paula Zahn. I get it. I am a teacher at a Texas state prison (20 years) I appreciate your research, bravery in sharing, and dedication to the -real- problem… the destruction of potentially socially valuable human beings. …and they all ARE human beings. I realize, as the forensic psych on the show pointed out (that is too often pointed out without eye for a remedy) that many people are horribly abused as children but do not become sociopaths. But many do.
And of those, many are bright, have an ability to engage (use it to induce victims) and have other valuable qualities that make me wonder what they -could- have contributed. Truman Capote said of Perry Smith that it’s as if the two of them grew up in the same house, and he went out the front door, and Perry went out the back door. Hopefully, the cycle can be stopped, but when the trauma does occur, how do we get them out the front door? So few can see beyond the horrific deed, or get the opportunity. I am so glad you realized the knowledge that could be gained by insight into the person of Brent Brents, and how he evolved, the courage and heart to do so and to continue in the face of criticism, and for sharing your experience. I completely understand the viewpoints of the victims, but even more reason to look at prevention. Your point was well made. Thanks again. MUCH respect….
-Cindy Campbell, 5/24/2011
To call Brent Brents and animal is an insult to animals. There is no excuse. We all live the the same messed up cruel environment. People make choices. He chose to be the person he is. Victims of sexual abuse should be outraged that this sick twisted bastard uses the excuse of sexual abuse for his crimes. Does this mean his victims will go out and do the same. NO. Do you even know what comments like that do to survivors child of sexual abuse. I do. Put that one away and don’t use it as part of you pathethic attempt to gain sympathy, empathy or understanding for your behavior. It has nothing to do with what you are. You are what you are because you wanted it that way. Nothing more, Nothing less. You don’t deserve a website like this. Your a waste of space, time and effort. Go do your time and leave the world alone. You have done enough damage.
I have recently reread your story because it was on the TV. I am confused what to feel about you and what you did to so many people. It is people like you that has made it scary to walk out of my own door. But on the other hand, I refused to give you and people like you power over me. That is what rape is, a matter of power, not sex. I read your words and I take them as a lesson in my own life. What I find in your words that upsets me the most is that you don’t seem to take responsible for your actions in life. You seem to use what has happen to you in your past as a reason to hurt others. Do you think you are the only person in this world to be hurt as a child? Well if that is the case, you telling us to learn from your mistakes doesn’t seem right. It is YOU that needs to learn from YOUR past. Like so many weak people, you let your past be an excuse to do what felt good to you. I am not saying that to you to just call you names and belittle you but to show you that it’s the weak people that gives past bad treatments as an excuse to hurt others. It takes a very strong person to NOT hurt someone when they have that much angry in their heart. You say things like, when I get high……I hurt people. If you can say those words, you could take that same energy and pick up a phone to ask for help. You seem like someone that has intelligent enough to put in words all that you have done to hurt others, so use that same intelligent to understand that what you are saying needs to be a lesson to you as well. You are 100% responsible for your actions in life. Example; if you were struck by lightning and lived, of course you are not responsible for that happening, but how you deal with what has happened to you after that is YOUR responsible from that point on. So to tell the world to treat your kids good and respectful them is all well and good, but my point to you is that you CHOSE to do what you did. That is where I have a problem with what you are telling us. You did what you did because you wanted to, not because someone made you do it. I think most of us in this world has had something bad happen to us. It’s the ones with good character or whatever, that doesn’t use that as an excuse to do whatever feels good at the time. I am not calling you a liar when you tell us that you were abused as a child by your parents, but there are many, many people that was raised by the same types of parents as yourself, that don’t act on feels likes yours. I believe this society has become a bunch of an ablers. Giving people like yourself an excuse to just do whatever you want. When you get caught, you bring out the abuse excuse. I understand abuse made you angry at the world but you made the decide to hurt. That’s the lesson here…..and it is your’s to learn.
-Patricia Goodwine, 4/8/2011
Brent, you dont know me but i’m sure you heard of me and my brother David growing up, we are Ronnie and holly’s kids we also had a hard life. I am so sorry to hear of what happened to you and Brandy and i am so sorry as to what you became. David and i also suffered horridly but somewhere along the way i made a choice to be above it all and to make myself a better person. I know dad was a troubled human to put it lightly but i feel you had a choice just as all of do. I hope you have found your Peace.
-Shelley Renee Springer, 3/19/2011
Are you sorry for what you have done? if you are then begin the long process of forgiving yourself.
When all we know is pain, all we know how to give is pain. I’m not excusing your actions but I understand it. Ask God for forgiveness and He will freely forgive.After you learn to accept His forgiveness, then you will have to learn to forgive yourself.
Now you are in prison but you don’t have to be locked down in your mind. Use your time to to help others and remember. God didn’t cause those bad things to happen to you, but He will use them for good.
-D D, 1/28/2011
I just wanted to say that I was brutally attacked and abused as a child. I grew up homeless with my mother and was also abused by her.By the time I was 13 I was a prostitute and full blown drug addict and alcoholic. I was held at gun point , kidnapped and raped and assaulted over the years more times than I can count. I am now 37 years old and although I have had a history of being in Jails and misdemeanor offenses over the years , I was very tempted to commit crimes , one of them being to kill my mother , I never did. There is no excuse to be violent and cause others pain. I have attempted suicide many times , and failed….but I wanted to say that I , being a person with an exremly tragic past where silent violence was done to me from the time I was a toddler , have not abused another person like this man. I do think that God has provided for him in a friend like you. I think that if he would have had a compassionate caregiver as a child it would have vastly changed him.
Falling through the cracks of the system is something that happens to people like me and people like him all of the time. I only went to the 1st week of 7th grade and have had so many problems that I cannot even focus enough to obtain my GED. I have not been able to hold a job and the jobs I have had , are nothing more than flipping burgers or picking up trash. The way I was treated in my life caused me to feel just like that , trash. But I never give up and continue to try to overcome and even when I feel like taking out my anger on others , I do something else. I pray , or when I am so mad at God I cannot do that , I get drunk….or stay in bed and watch TV. Thats how I saw the program that you were on. I try not to feel sorry for myself , and realize that I am not less than human although I feel like I am.
Everybody needs somebody. And you are that person for this man. I don’t buy the excuse that his childhood made him do it , because of my own life , but I think that whatever it is , it is good for him to have you as a friend and I hope that he can someday face what he did without blaming someone else , although in essence I do blame others and even God sometimes for not being able to get it together. Thanks for seeing one person in this world and having compassion where noone else would. It lets me know that there are people who still have feelings. Whose hearts aren’t hardened. One more glimpse of Hope and a little more faith , this gives to people . Faith in mankind.
A close friend of mine was assaulted by this creature, you call him human and not an animal. We’re all primal animals in human form, affected by our civilizing process and our own emotional/intellectual choices. Nothing you’ve posted here by him is original, lots of previous books etc. published trying to “understand” violent predators. I resent that your efforts give him a forum, whether you intend it or not. We’re nearing the anniversary month for many of his Denver victims, and I suspect your motives for bringing out your book at this time. What if we just let him rot where he belongs, with no websites about him, no one making money from him (no matter where it gets donated), no one caring what happens to him, as he clearly did not care what he did to children and women.
First and last time I’ll view your website.
I just watched a show with u and Paula Zahn. I was and am very impressed with what you are doing. I was in law enforcement for a few years and very interested in getting to understand why humans do what they do. We have always been an aftermath sociaty instead of a preventitive one. I am no longer in law enforcement and am on SSD. So I spend many a days watching and researching old unsolved cases. I have been for a fews years now research missing and unsolved cases of women in the east coast.
I always thought what you are doing talking to the offender and getting to know what makes them tick, we can then hopefully prevent the making of others. I have time and very much interest in all your work. If at anytime you are looking for assistence please dont hessitate. I hope you know as many may not understand what and why you do what you do, know there are much more of us out there that appreciate you putting yourself out there to change sociaties views.
Thank you for your time.
I saw the story on Paula Zahn’s show and it disgusted me greatly. I have never commented on any of the things I have watched before but this really hit me in a negative way. I can’t understand why animals such as this guy have the following that they do. Why do people become fascinated by these guys and the crimes they commit. I was a law enforcement officer for a short time in Texas and had dealings with some of the most horrendous crimes imaginable, such as the murders of Dean Coryl and Elmer Wayne Henly but I never felt the urge or desire to idolize them or empathize with them.I was just thouroughly disgusted and appalled by their crimes. My empathy was felt toward all the victims and their families. I guess I don’t understand the fascination and I hope I never do. I remember you calling him a human being and that set me off even more. He gave up that right, not after the first victim, or even the second, but all the others after. He even told you that he would continue to hurt, if he was released. It was at this point, I became so upset, that I deleted the program from my Tivo, before it had ended. I don’t want anyone to try and justify why he did what he did. I don’t care. We all have problems and we all have had bad times in our lives, but not everyone turns down the road he did. He did it because he wanted to and for that he should not be idolized or empathized with. He is an animal, who chose to hurt people and rightly so, he should never see the light of day, outside a cell.
Thank you SO much for doing this. Yes, what Brent did was TERRIBLE and he does acknowledge it. BUT, his story needs to be told. Sexual abuse of children is still one of those things that people DON’T want to talk about. I was abused from the age of 4 until I was 15. I was always told that you dont tell people stuff like that b/c people think the victim is the bad one. This site is helping with that stigma.
Dear Brent, please know there are those of us who believe you and know you were born innocent. My heart’s prayer is that we can find a way to intervene in the lives of children who were born into homes like yours and stop the acting out later in life. May you find peace if not in this life, then in the next.
Ms. Herdy’s relationship with this piece of garbage is reprehensible….he manipulates her in the same way he tortured others…he is without shame and Ms. Herdy should be ashamed of herself.
When my mom died I was 3years old,my dad died about nine years later.My seven brothers and sisters were separated.My youngestest brother & I ended up with my dad’s girl friends brother and wife.We were beat with sticks,extention cords,and just about anything they could pick up.I awoke one night and my foster father was touching me.I screamed at the top of my lungs,he ran out but his wife never came to check on me.The next four years were the most degrading and horrifying years of my life.I felt that everyone knew and no one cared!I remember walking from 165th st.Grandconcouse to Fordham & crotona during the transit strike of 1977 or 78( I forget which) to insure not being left alone with my foster father.I remember days of holding my foot against the bathroom door while I washed at the sink,I remember sleeping with clothes on at bed time and curling up against the cold wall of the top bunk bed.I remember running away and telling my foster care social worker Mr Ford all about the things my brother and I were going through he recorded everything I said and tried to take me back.I ran again and seem to have been running ever since.Although I DONOT by any means agree with the things Brent did I understand it.Thank you Amy for caring enough to want to know why because I don’t believe anyone says”when I grow up,I want to be a predator!” May GOD bless us all! Best of wishes to you and yours.
I think you are right.Boys don’t get the same protection as girls.I have two boys and would hate to think that they would be treated different god forbid if something would happen to them.My best friend growing up(a girl)was molested by her dad.the mother lied to protect their name.I saw her reaction to every day things it wasnt normal.This was learned behavior from her parents.she learnd how to lie and hide things from people that she cared about.But I being her best friend I knew the truth.Now in our thirties I have no tolerance for this behavioral!Her father shot himself.I dont know why I felt like I should share this with you.but.Childern that have been abused from early years until teens,they have a hard time in everyday life.I saw the sow on ID.
I watched with both facination and disgust the documentary on your coverage of Brent Brents story. What a way to build a career. The people that suffered at his hands deserve more than to see you try to humanize this animal. Again what a career builder for you. You should be ashamed of yourself. Many, many people suffer as he did and believe it or not, worse and do not commit the attrocities that this being enjoyed committing. I do not even like to call him an animal as I am an aminal lover and even the feral animals that I tend to show more compasion and humanity than this freak.
My name is Jessica. I don’t know that you’ll have a chance to read this or respond, but I felt compelled to write. I was raped when I was fifteen years old by an older guy who attacked me in my home. It certianly was a horrible, terrifying, and damaging event in my life that I will always remember. It has been ten years since it happened and somewhere during that time I came to forgive that man. I believe it was something I had to do in order to heal and move forward. It wasn’t easy. I went through periods of very self-destructive behavior. But in the end, I overcame many things, graduated college, had successful relationships with men, and overall I think I have done really well.
I guess I want you to know that I truly believe people are capable of forgiving others and forgiving themselves, regardless of what horrible acts have taken place. I’m not incredibly religious, but I do believe God loves every single person on earth, and that he wants and does forgive and redeem the sins of those who repent. So don’t give up.
Lastly, I want to say that I believe what you and Amy are doing is very helpful. Understanding the environmental and biological reasons people commit violent and/or sexual crimes is paramount in developing prevention in our society. The most haunting thing about my ordeal was being left the question, “Why did this happen?” So I applaud any efforts in research aimed at anwering that question. All we can do is learn from the past and work towards a better future.
I applaud you and your efforts. I completely agree with you. I believe that we as a society need to look at the issue from all angles and from all victims. Using the information provided, hopefully people will see what factors may play a possible role in an individuals life and how those factors can alter that individual for better or for worse. I agree that a rippling effect can take place with this information. I will do my share to discuss and inform others but of course the rest lies in their hands.
Thank you again.
We are all human. We all have flaws whether they are due to outside influences or not. We all have the ability to acknowledge our flaws, accept them, deal with them, and use that information to make us better individuals. I read some of your entries and believe you are doing just that. That’s all that any of us can do. One day you will find your peace.
I’m a female, 36 years old, and a recovering addict. I am also a victim of childhood abuse, of every kind. I see Amy Herdy as a real human. Someone who sees that we are all the same in so many ways, but some of us act on our emotions differently. I have never abused anyone, and though it was done to me, I can empathize with you Brent. What makes you different than me? Why did you do what you did? Well, why did I do the things I did??? I’ve acted on many impulses I should not have, but I am human, and I make this world go ‘ round. Just like you and you and you. I can’t say my heart goes or to you, but I can say I get it. Typed from my phone, so forgive the grammar errors.
I was sexually abused by both of my parents, as well as one of my sisters. I absolutely believe Brent when he says that both of his parents sexually abused him. I believe his mother is a liar and that his sister is in denial or she is willingly a part of the family silence.
What do people think, that Brent’s sexually-based rage for women developed out of thin air while growing up with two nice parents? The ignorance with regards to the root cause of rape and child sexual abuse puts children in harm’s way. People say, “I don’t care why Brent is the way he is,” but they had better start caring. It is the mainstream American denial system to incest (especially maternal incest), that helps shield child sexual abusers, and thus, creates child sexual abusers. A history of child sexual abuse can be found in virtually every rapist and child sexual abuser.
If people want to stop rape and child sexual abuse, then they need to open their ears and minds to childhood truths like Brent’s. If only the so-called “good” people, who condemn and attack Brent, understood that denial and “I don’t want to know” perpetuates child sexual abuse and rape by shielding the perpetrators.
Thank you for trying to get to the root cause.
I saw the episode about Brent Brents on television tonight and wanted to let you know you are not alone in your belief that we should be doing more to prevent violent behavior.
I have never been a victim of a violent crime and can only imagine the horror and pain inflicted on the victims and their families. I do think that punishing violent offenders is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. I feel the victimization of children is a real part of the problem. As a society we need to do more to open up lines of communication with victims of child abuse and get them the help they so desperately need. Another case along this vein is Eileen Wuornos. I was appalled by the lack of intervention from the community.
Dear Amy and Brent,
I just finished watching the 48 Hours show on Brent’s life. His story, as well as yours, Amy, touched me. I was in love with a man who was sexually and physically abused as a young child. Fortunately, as far as I know, his abuse didn’t result in him becoming an abuser, at least not in those ways, but he almost ruined my life as a result of his emotional abuse. My experience with him helped me make the decision to become a psychologist. There is a disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder that outlines many of the symptoms resulting from extreme abuse.
I, as many of the commenters here, have always known there is more ‘behind’ the crime than the police or prosecuters see. They are often not educated to even know to look for the causes of people becoming this mentally ill. Amy, it so touched me when I heard the last line of the 48 Hours story, that you vowed to continue communications with Brent, to help him, to be his friend, and to let people know there is a person behind what so many judge as a ‘monster’.
Everyone has a story, no matter how bad the surface may seem. There is a reason… a baby isn’t born with these tendencies. A child doesn’t want to grow up to be dangerous to others… as Amy said, they are ‘made’ by society, and those of us who are aware enough to look beneath the surface need to keep telling these tragic stories. Hopefully one day there will be more focus put on them, Brent was a victim before he was a criminal. So sad that if people had paid more attention and done their jobs, he could have been saved. It has been proven that people with BPD, especially the more severe cases, actually have altered brain chemistry that causes what Brent admitted to in the show, although he may realize his wrongs, he still feels compelled to do the same things if given the opportunity. With counseling and intensive therapy, people with this illness can be helped. Lives can be saved.
There is someone else out here who understands what happened to you Brent. Your life has served a very important purpose. Blessed be.
Facinating – goes to show how our trajectories and persons are shaped at an early age and often carry us willing or not into the future. About 15 years ago I was working at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and one of my favorite patients was Howard Unrue, quite a hospitable and generous man with the other far less stable patients in the facility. I couldn’t figure out why he was still an inpatient and discovered that though his mass shooting was decades in the past and his mental bill of health stellar, every year the families and friends of his victims would show up at his hearing and spit such hate onto him and the process that his release was continually denied. He died after sixty years of confinement, his childhood pains and adult loneliness still plague me as an unfortunate side effect of our society. Thanks for your efforts here. And thanks for stalking me.
Hi Amy and Brent,
As an abused child myself,I was bizarre to read the chronicles from Mr. Bren’t childhood. For years after being beaten,sexually and emotionally abused it was clear to me that society is in part to blame for ignoring obviously beaten child when they are right in front of their face in either a school setting or the emergency room. But getting discovered can lead to heightened abuse a home far from the police station.
After coming to school with a bleeding broken nose my second grade teacher turned me over to the nurse whom phoned the police. Well they pretended to be my friends and got me to tell the truth. Within hours i was back home with my abusive step-dad madder than hell that his secret had been exposed. From the time I was 8 I never trusted another adult and began to live in my own world.
Wonder why most of the abused don’t come forward? #1 They have usually through this before and realize that they end up right back where they came from;the absers are angrier and can’t wait to take their sickness out on you,in this case a small child who weighed 60 pounds. #2 Uprooting them and being put into foster care puts an already timid kid into a place where you have no protection. Although homelike sucks it is the one they know. I’ve met several persons at support groups whom have been placed in foster care,only to be sexually or physically abused. 3. Call it Stocholm syndrome but although it sounds sick it is common for the childeren to love these maniacs. They begin to see bad attention as any attention,sadly they learn to love their abusers. 3.)My step-father who beat me constantly,knocking me unconcios etc…was never taken to court in anyway. It was the 70’s when sadly children were seen as their property and statistically unless you kill a strangers white child no one really wants to get involved to help these children. The cops in my case had several photos of my numerous interactions with them.
A friend of mine in high school finally had enough abuse and shot his father to death. We always thought that had his father done these things to a neighbor or a stranger he would have been in jail. But it seems that you,as a child,have no rights in the eye of the law. Often when you do try to get help the athoraties are dubious to interceded the confines of a family home.
Anyway, I grew up angry and alone until we moved to a different state and my abusive stepdad left my mother who was six months pregnant. Then I turned into a bully and stated to be a monster. Then one day it just stopped less than a year later. Instead I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb my pain which I didn’t stop until I was 35.
Amy you are right! Lots has to change in dealings with children of abuse. We need a revoulution in how we handle these cases or not be suprised when people like Brent act out. After years of someone four times your size beats you almost daily you come out damaged . Who knows if Brent’s dad didn’t knock something loose in his head?
Thanks for this forum.
I hope to get through to you. I too have always been fascinated by criminals. I just want to know why. The story you did is the closed I’ve seen yet, as to answering this question. I have also always thought “bad” people are made, not born. So seein the story reafirmed that belief. Drugs and alcohol, I believe are the root of all evil. I wonder how many convicts were under the influence? Also how many were the result of parents under the influence. If you ever need me to help with an investigation in on this subject, I would love to help. I have always been against drugs and alcohol. I am a retired athlete. Happily married, 55 year old vegan. Only high school education, but read a lot. Crime free, save one arrest for saving a pidgeon at a pidgeon shoot. I was with PETA, a cause I feel strongly about. I hat abuse of any sort.In the end, I thought you were wonderful on TV, and thank you for reafirming my belief in people. It all makes so much sense.
-Cathy Sheppard, 6/30/2010
Thank you. I watched the Paula Zahn episode, and your take on the matter of Brent (and others like him) could not be more accurate. I have always wondered why we (society, the penal system, etc.) do not care to figure out the “whys” of violent crime. The truth you seek is imperative for change. We will never fix anything if we neglect the source(s) of the act(s) of violence. I think of you as a pioneer, because I am a true crime fanatic and have never heard anyone like you state the obvious, which was probably difficult and people find bothersome. So I say again, thank you. You are doing great work. Take care.
This is actually for Amy…
Most call me Ellie or L.E., I have 8 brother’s and 2 sister’s. I am the youngest girl and was born in between the all the boys. Our Mom ruled our world, in every way you can think of. Most of us have different fathers, I am the only one from mine, whom I have never met.
Well here we go, we lived in a small MT. town, in the foothills of Blodgett Canyon. We were about 8 miles out of town, with very few neighbors. The code in our house was “Tell nothing to anyone outside the family!” Because we could not really be social with others our lives were private anyway. Most people do not want to know about our history, not even my husband wants to hear about it. He has sympathy for me, but he cannot process the daily abuse we went through. At 15 I was taken away from my parents by force, it is all documented in court records/police photos.
Only because I went through what Brent went through can I say I do know were he is coming from, it did not turn me into a predator though, my life speeks to the truth of that.
I wanted to say this to you Amy, 11 years ago I was talking with a younger brother-his comment to me was “well I never thought about you as a rape victim because your a girl, so I geuss my dad did rape you, wow, huh, well, um I gotta go, bye.” 5000 days of torture, who can get through that without scars? I have stated that our mother created 12 weapons of mass destruction, then she died @ 51 from alcoholism.
Because of my up bringing I strived to read as many parenting books as I could check out per week, for years, one day I just knew I would not ever be what I came from and stopped searching for that one scrap of information that would make it all fit, make it alright. There is so much that I need to say to someone, but for people like me, (& Brent) there is no one. Anyway I guess I am thanking you for at least giving this man that one person who listens without just condemning him.
-Ellie Belle, 6/28/2010
I seen your story about brent brents this a.m. – i am truly proud and so loudly applaud you for digging deep enough into his past to discover the real reasons for his actions (criminal activity). I would like to be able to send you the story about my son – who is now 18 – as a mother of this young man, I am so afraid that he is going to end up just like brent. I have been fighting for my son to get the proper help since he would 7 years old. If you would just allow me to send you a copy of my son’s story – maybe together somehow we can get him the help that he so desperately needs. If possible, please hear me out – I have documentation to back up everything that I say.
Thanks for listening so far.
As aired in your concerns about brent – there is a WHOLE, WHOLE LOT of children out there that does need to be, and can be saved if given the proper help – and a whole lot of VICTIMS will be saved as well.
I am a survivor of rape and like one of Brent’s victim survivors suffer damage to both retinas and PTSD.
While I admire your work as a journalist I feel you have lost your objectivity and Brent is using you for his own negative psychological benefit.
I consider what you are doing to be emotional infidelity to your husband! I advise you to turn away slowly from this man Brent before it affects other aspects of your life.
LEAVE THE STUDY OF SEX OFFENDERS TO CRIMINOLOGISTS, PHd’S AND SOCIOLOGISTS!
I thank you for your objective and thorough research into the making and the mind of a human that could do what Brent has done. I am a professional woman who has worked for many years helping people to change their lives. Many have been victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse and rape. My own journey of healing from sexual abuse and rape was what led me into the helping field. I do have compassion for any child that is mistreated even if that child grows up to do the unthinkable. I was a battered wife for many years and even nearly killed. I did not remain with him but learning about his painful childhood helped me to forgive him and to wish him well as he remarried and built another life. I have compassion for him. We cannot accept the unacceptable, ever, but we can strive to understand so that the possibility exists to prevent at least some of the evil done to innocent victims of all ages.
My wife and I just watched this show. I appreciate your courage and compassion and desire to get to the whole truth of this story. The sad fact is that we are raising “monsters” every day. The distorted value system in our society bears some of the blame, I think. The lack of a general sense of responsibility (“me first” and the emphasis on competition) coupled with poverty and the tempting escape of drugs – I think these contribute. Also, something is missing in our schools.
We teach everything in our schools, except compassion and warmheartedness. These are taken for granted, as the Dalai Llama pointed out recently.
When someone goes off the deep end, we vilify the person, label him a monster, and absolve ourselves of all the blame. It takes a village to raise a monster. That’s my opinion. Every once in a while, you read about victims who are able to somehow forgive. Those people I admire greatly. Forgiveness is the only way to heal. That’s the truth very few are willing to face.
Thanks for your inspiring work, Amy.
-Kenneth Slaughter, 6/27/2010
I just watched the episode on Investigation Discovery about Brent and his victims. I would like to say that I am personally outraged that anyone would call you a sympathizer. This man has committed monstrous crimes but you are truly doing the human race a SERVICE by researching a man who should be researched! They have no right to call you out.
I am 22 years old and am about to begin studying to become a mental health counselor and absolutely any information of the ‘status’ of an extremely mentally ill individual is utterly invaluable to anyone studying in the field of psychology.
This man made it totally obvious that he cannot control his defective mind and recognizes that he is monstrous. I would not go as far as to say that he might not be compelled to lie to you, but to deny that it is at all possible for him not to lie is ignorance.
Anyway, ranting. Thank you and take pride in what you are doing.
Criminal investigations all contain the hunt for the perpetrator. To answer the who, what, where, when, why and how is the way the guilty are apprehended. As a major crimes detective with 25 years of experience, I know these facts to be true. Though the “why” may be answered in some cases, “why” criminals evolve into the predators that they are remains a mystery. Amy Herdy should be commended for having the fortitude to try and solve that mystery.
-Kevin Durkin, 6/27/2010
Very interesting website. You see that this man seems to struggle with his personality. On the one hand, he tries to be a normal loving person, and then cannot control his evil side. At least he realizes the fact that he cannot control his emotions and is dangerous. I hope they never let him out. You feel very sorry for the way he was brought up. What twisted parents… I hope they are dead. Hopefully this site will help “ the system” learn about this case and more like it. I find it scary that he realizes that there are more individuals just like himself out roaming within society. Be very proud of yourself for having the courage to pursue this story! This story brings up the fact that “the system” needs fixing badly!
Even though nothing can justify this mans actions, it shows you how horrible the cycle of abuse is. I hope this story will bring awareness to how important it is to protect our children from abuse and allow them to grow up to be healthy and happy individuals.
As a survivor, I don’t think you’re a traitor, because you’re still working on the issue. The survivors who may hate it–that’s a reflection on themselves and their healing and where they’re at on their personal journey. It’s a reflection of them, not you, and that’s O.K.–that’s just where they’re at.
The hate and animosity and bitterness that we feel only perpetuates the victimization of ourselves. The more we hurt ourselves, the more we hurt the rest of society.
As a survivor, I know that society doesn’t want to look at my pain. They want you to go away-”Rape is a victim’s problem.” They want to stay in their little bubble and convince themselves it can’t happen to them, because that blows their safety bubble away. And it also takes away their responsibility to the rest of society.
When society says it’s a victim’s fault-and that predators are only predators-society takes on a predatory role themselves, because of their lack of understanding and unwillingness to see.
I can’t even imagine what it was like talking to him. But you’re still addressing violence.
And I think you’re very brave for doing this.
-Sharon Mixon, military sexual trauma survivor and domestic violence survivor, 1/31/2010
Editor’s note: Sharon Mixon was one of the veterans who told her story to me for Betrayal in the Ranks. -Amy Herdy
It is heartbreaking … the humanness of his situation. You are right when you say it is easiest to just cast him as a monster. To deny any likeness we may have to him. It reminds me of a Longfellow quote.
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
Thank you for telling this story. Thank you for presenting it in this way–as a call to change.
Thank you. It is beautiful and heartbreaking, but it made me re-evaluate myself and my life.
It is a blessing that Brent’s sister was not abused by her parents as was Brent. Maybe this families cycle of abuse will stop with her. I am not a psychiatrist or professional in any way, so this is an opinion from an everyday “Joe”. I am of the opinion that where one child was abused in some fashion, another or other siblings may not be.
It seems to me this website is geared toward gathering opinions and information about how to prevent sexual abuse from happening and how we as a society can help after it has happened. I have never been sexually abused so I am looking at this in an objective manner and not from experience. First off, it seems to me that most sexual offenders were in fact, far likey to be victims themselves. If they were molested and did not recdeive adequate help or counselling they would mentally remain in a victimized state. As such, not only are Brent’s victims “victims”, but Brent is also a victim since he was sexually and physically abused as a child.
We will not always be able to prevent all abuse, so how do we fix it, if we can in fact “fix it”? Anytime there is trauma in a person’s life we have coping mechanisms. Not all coping mechanisms are good – in fact, most are poor. If there is a loss then alcohol, withdrawal, over-eating, depression or over-working may come into play. Being a workaholic is a sociably acceptable coping mechanism but even this is not healthy. One could say that we are a train and one of the cars has gone off of the tracks. The coping mechanisms are our way of trying to somehow stay on-track.
If we consider the degree of sexual and physical abuse that Brent was subjected to we could be looking at a total train derailment. Coping mechanisms probably are not going to get him back on-track. But a train is a train and a person is a human person. A train could be take to the wrecking yard… but a person is a child of God and all effort should be given to helping that individual to get on the right track. Once on track, hopefully abusive behavior would be less likely.
How do we do this? Like I said before, I am not a professional, but I’d say to start over. Start at the beginning. I would begin by looking at what Brent’s response to his sister was, “I spent my whole life searching for love, comfort…” Aren’t these the same needs we have as infants, as children? Even as adults? How can we move forward when basic emotional human needs are not met? Just giving coping skills to a person is not enough. Caring enough to give the love, security and compassion that has not been given is a necessity. And I’m not talking about sexual love, I am speaking of a friendship, unconditional acceptance of a person where they are mentally at that particular moment.
So we are not looking at a “punitive” system. This does not in any way mean a dangerous person should be kept in society. It means the person who has perpetrated a sexual crime should be dealt with in a loving, compassionate manner. Just as those who have beeen sexually abused but have not been sexual offenders should be given compassion, care and love. This also means that counselling is not given once a month, nor once a week. It means that individual is given constant attention and interaction. All of the emotional needs that were not met as a child must be met as an adult for them to move forward. I also believe this can only be done with God’s help.
This is my opinion, unprofessional as it is I admit, as to what needs to be done. The hows remain unanswered. Maybe if someone out there agrees with me they could come forward with some suggestions?