Dec. 2, 2009— -- Melissa Moore had spent her entire life hiding her identity, until now. In her new book, "Shattered Silence," Moore describes what life was like for the daughter of serial killer. From innocent beginnings to uncovering the truth, Moore provides the reader with a raw journey that's sure to thrill.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.
Life finally seemed to settle into a smoother and easier routine. Every morning, I climbed out of bed, ready to tackle sixth grade. Every day I would come home to play in the neighborhood until bath time, and then it was straight to bed. It was all routine now, even sharing my bed with Carrie and my room with Jason. As a new little family, we were making it on our own.
Over the last couple of months, I had slowly but surely given up on my father getting back together with us permanently. I learned to honor his journey, and I accepted that he wouldn't be with us except for occasional visits. Between those visits and our new home, I did not think there was anything more we needed. The little brown rental home on Nordin Street was what had become permanent, and it felt like a place of safety.
One early morning when the weather couldn't decide if it was late winter or early spring, I woke up to a really queasy stomach. Not sure if I would make it through the day without the threat of spewing on a bus driver, teacher, or classmate, I decided to run the risk of missing school, and went back to bed. My mother had left for work. Jason and Carrie had caught the bus, and the house was now empty and quiet.
Missing any kind of school was a first for me. Confident that I was of age and therefore quite capable of taking care of myself, I knew I shouldn't be worried about being all alone in the house. Had I been worried at all, the flulike cramping and nausea would've drowned it out. After I went back to sleep for a while, I felt a bit better. From the bed I shared with Carrie, I grabbed the large comforter and my pillow and traipsed out to the front room to lie on the couch.
As I lay down, I was glad it felt less isolated out here. This way I knew I would hear my brother and sister coming home from school when it was time. I also knew I would be able to hear the noises of anyone else if they came by. I was wondering if I ought to turn the TV set on when suddenly my mind was filled with the image of a man trying to break into our home. I was defenseless. Over the years, I had learned that sometimes these images and pictures were not just reactions to my fear, but were valid. I attempted to relax—to tell myself that it was all in my head—but the fear made me anxious, and I had a hard time resting on the stiff couch. To make matters worse, there was a large, clear-glass, square window cut right into the door. This made it so I could see anyone who came to the door. Unfortunately, that meant they could see me as well.
I tossed and turned for a few minutes, but no matter what I did, I simply could not get comfortable with my pillow. I also could not put my fears to rest. I took my blanket and covered my head to block out some of the afternoon light and calm my racing thoughts. Finally, I began to relax. I was almost asleep when I heard a vehicle pull up in our driveway.Who could be here? I thought. Then I knew: I am in danger; I must lock the door fast! Through instinct and adrenaline, I jumped up quickly and locked the front door, then ran back to my blanket on the couch and hid. I heard a door to the vehicle close, and then it was silent for a moment. Just one person, I thought logically. Who could it be? I told myself that no matter what, I could not look out. Somehow I knew I had to stay utterly still. There was the noise of feet shuffling softly on the walkway and up the three stairs. Though I couldn't see anything through the thick blanket, I could feel someone looking in from the window in the door.
At that moment, I was experiencing the same warning of extreme danger I had felt just a few times in my life. I remembered the flames on the bus and tried not to panic. Maybe I should run to a neighbor's house?
"Stay very still," said a soft and peaceful voice. "Do not make one, single move." There was no confusion about my feelings. I was not over-reacting. I felt with absolute certainty that I was in danger, and that there was a crimi¬nal right outside my door. But I also knew that I was not alone. I trusted the voice and I did not move.
Suddenly there was a knock on the wooden door. I had to steel myself not to shake and tremble. Please don't see me, I prayed, grateful that my comforter somewhat blended in with the couch in the dim light. I stayed frozen in my position, hardly daring to breathe for fear that whoever was at the door would see the blanket move up and down with my breath. Not moving an inch, I waited for another knock or for the sounds of the person leaving. It was eerily quiet for a long, long time. There was no sound of the vehicle door opening or shutting. I closed my eyes inside the blackness of the blanket and willed myself to see what was happening outside. I saw only a momentary flash, but it was the image of a person looking for an open window, or an unlocked back door. This time, I really did hold my breath, praying with all my might that every window and door was safely locked.
Just then, I heard the door to the vehicle open and shut. There was another long silence, and I stayed still until I heard the engine roar to life. Quickly but stealthily, avoiding the window where it was most wide and open, I carefully looked to see who had been at my door. There was a pale, beige truck and my father's silhouette in the driver's seat. Mom had not mentioned expecting him at all.
At that moment, I could have unlocked the door and stopped him from leaving, but the feeling of danger did not subside. I decided to trust my feeling, and ducked out of the way so I would not be seen. Then I laid back down on the couch to rest.
Later I realized that at the time of the incident, it did not seem odd to me that I would allow my father, who I rarely saw, to simply drive away. Between the feeling and the peaceful voice that came to intercede, there was not a question in my mind that I had been in the presence of someone who would harm me. That knowing somehow overshadowed the fact that it was my father, not a stranger, at the door.
Later that evening, my father came back after my mother was home from work. He slept in our room, and Carrie and Jason snuggled up next to him on the floor. They moved the beds aside to fit them all onto a couple of sleeping bags. I did not feel the need to sleep with them, nor did I want to be close to him, so I slept on my bed that was pushed up against the wall. The panic and warning had subsided, but it had not fully gone away.How is it that my brother and sister do not feel uncomfortable? I thought. There was no reason to talk to them or my mom about it. Perhaps I was overreacting. It seemed I was the only one who did not feel at ease near him.
There was no way I could have known that just a few months previous to this, my father was in Toni's home, cleaning up blood that had splat¬tered on the walls. Or that he had just dumped a body near our favorite family picnic spot in Oregon. In the spring of 1990, my father and Toni moved into her mother's ranch-styled home in Portland, Oregon. The heartache continued for us when Dad picked us up to visit them that summer.
When we all walked in to her home, the cries of "Daddy! Daddy!" rang in my ears and pierced my heart. It was torture for us to watch other chil¬dren having a relationship with my father in a way we used to have before the divorce.
Now I was an observer to this new family in which I did not belong. It did not feel fair that they received my father's time and attention. When I would feel these emotions, I would get angry at myself, and this brought on lingering questions of my own worth as well as a sense of shame. I felt shame for my thoughts and feelings toward this young boy and girl, and I thought that I must not have been as fun to play with as these children were, or Dad would still be with us. These feelings would intensify if my father was in a bad mood.
"You're just like your mother!" He blasted the remark at me more than once that summer, and it was usually right after he blamed her for something or had just finished complaining about what a horrible person she was. I could tell how my father felt about my mother, and being "just like your mother" meant that I was a horrible, ugly person in my father's eyes—not worthy of his presence.
My first impressions of Toni as a mother were more accurate than I had imagined. I observed her through the weeks we stayed in her home, and she often yelled and treated her two kids roughly and harshly. It seemed they couldn't do anything right, either.
Sometimes Toni would ask my father to discipline her children, includ¬ing spanking them, but he would refuse. It was up to her to discipline her kids. In some ways, I liked to see her children get a bum deal, but some¬where deep inside, I knew that it was my jealousy talking. My heart hurt whenever they were yelled at, pushed around, or slapped. I knew that they deserved to be treated with patience and kindness, as all children did.Things came to a head when Toni tried to treat me as one of her own children, or even worse. She passed on to me the rough and dirty jobs on the chore chart. It seemed unfair that I was getting the toilet cleaning duty all the time, and she didn't withhold yelling at me whenever she thought I had made a mistake. However, she never touched my body, or my siblings', and I think Dad must have laid down the law with her like he had with his father when it concerned us.
When I got home, I made sure I told my mother about the unfair treatment I received. Her expression never changed as I unloaded all the reasons why I hated Dad's girlfriend. My mother was obviously taking the higher ground, which was a great lesson—I only wish she would have commiserated with me just once. I'm sure she was sympathetic but only in an inner, silent way. From my mother's perspective Toni had taken her husband, ordered her children around, and absorbed most of the financial resources my father should have provided to her instead. I knew the situa¬tion must have been absolutely miserable for her, but if it were up to Mom, I would never know.