Tracey RichterRiddle me this: if you committed a bloody murder while your three kids are in the next room, would you consider yourself a good mom? You wouldn't think I'd have to ask this question, but I do. Because a judge in Iowa has decided that Tracey Richter is not only a good mom -- despite having killed a man while her then-toddler kids were a room away -- but her honor has deemed the convicted murderer deserves parental rights that include their dad being forced to bring them to prison for visits.
Wait, make that make them travel to prison in Iowa all the way from their home in California to visit the mom who -- yes, I'm going to repeat it -- cared so much about their well-being that she murdered a man while they were in the next room. And they say the nuclear family is breaking down ... apparently not so folks!
I jest ... sort of ... but the ruling here is so loopy that the jokey defense mechanism that comes of being completely confused was inevitable.
The facts of Tracey Richter's case are just so bizarre, I'm struggling to see how a convicted murderer's rights supersede those of her kids.
Basically, Richter murdered a man named Dustin Wehde back in 2001 in her home. Her (now ex-) husband Michael Roberts was away on a business trip, but her kids, then ages 3 and 1, were a room away, along with a third child from another man, when she fired off 11 shots. It's almost impossible for them not to have been impacted in some way.
At the time, Richter told police it was self-defense, that Wehde and another man had attacked her during a home invasion, and Roberts stood by her. But after the couple divorced in 2004, she started blaming him for the man's death. It would take several years, during which she retained custody of her kids, for cops to determine it was all a pack of lies, and she was convicted of the murder last November.
She sounds like a lunatic, right? An evil, gun-toting lunatic?
Well, not according to the judge. Judge Nancy Whittenburg says it's wrong that Michael Roberts has moved his kids to California to keep them away from their mother. She wants these kids to visit their mother in prison, take 30-minute phone calls from her on their birthdays, and she says the kids should be required to accept packages of Richter's voice recorded on tape.
In other words ... the fact that she killed a man in cold blood is not considered a factor in whether or not this woman is a fit parent. She's being pushed into these kids lives whether they want it or not.
Are we really setting the bar for good parenting that low?
To be fair, maybe the kids do want some relationship with their mother. She is still their flesh and blood, their mother for crying out loud. I've always said that even murderers have people who love them.
But shouldn't that be on the kids' terms, not the mother's? She made the decision to put herself first when she murdered a man in the same house as her kids. Now it's time to put them first.
Do you think this woman should have any rights to her kids?
Image via Iowa Department of Public Safety