Charity Lee got the worst call a parent can get...her daughter had been murdered. But then, she heard something that somehow made it even worse: it was her son that did it.
Charity Lee had seen murder from a young age. When she was just six years old, her father's body was found inside his home. He had been shot several times in the back of the head, and the prime suspect was Lee's mother. Her parents had been separated for years, but had reunited just days before for a trip to Vegas. Lee's mother had everything to gain from her husband's death, as she would have taken over his trucking business once he was dead.
Lee's mother was charged with hiring a hit man to kill her husband, but a jury later acquitted her. The trauma of the experience lead Lee to drugs, and by the time she was 17, the teenager was addicted to heroin. Her mother kicked her out of the house, leaving Lee to fend for herself.
“She gave me $100 and told me I could either use it to find help or to score and find a place to overdose," Lee said.
The teenager instead enrolled in university where she was clean for a year before relapsing. She was miserable, and gave herself a deadline, saying if she still felt awful in three months, then she would commit suicide by overdosing. One month before her self-imposed deadline, Lee found out she was pregnant with her son, Paris.
“Paris changed everything,” she said. “I mean, he saved my life.”
Lee stayed clean for years, and ended up meeting Jonathan Smith. Together, they had a little girl named Ella. Smith and Lee's relationship didn't last at all, so Lee moved her and her kids to Dallas to be closer to her mom, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon after moving back home, Lee started using cocaine. Paris was nine at the time, and took the relapse very hard.
“It was like a good six-month period I was back using,” Lee said. “I know it had an impact on [Paris]. It’s the one thing, that huge regret I wish I could go back and change.”
Lee and the kids moved back to be with Ella's father, while she was still struggling to get clean, then once again moved back to Texas.
“I believe there’s a moment in all our lives when we realize our parents are human, that they let us down and we become disappointed,” Lee said. “I believe that was Paris’ moment with me.”
While playing with Ella and one of her friends, Paris accidentally broke one of the friend's toys. Lee scolded Paris and put him in a timeout. She turned her back for one minute, and Paris had grabbed a knife and ran out of the house. When Lee finally tracked him down, Paris began waving the knife at them. His grandmother managed to grab the knife and take away any immediate danger.
“He just collapsed into this heap on the floor,” Lee recalled. “We didn’t know what was wrong with him.”
Lee had her son committed to a psychiatric facility, where she claims doctors failed to properly communicate with her. They gave her some generic discharge papers and sent Paris home. It wasn't until years later that Lee saw what doctors had written in Paris's file.
“He is obsessed about shooting and killing … homicidal/suicidal ideation.”