Once her son agreed to accuse her, Jennifer McPherson’s life fell completely apart. She was unable to believe that her child had said these things, and to this day, believes that he was coerced and bullied into making his accusations. Certainly there was no physical evidence to support his accusations. Nor was there physical evidence to support the accusations of the others.
Once Paul accused his mother, Lisa followed shortly after. Lisa agreed, more than she accused. She agreed to things she didn’t even know to begin with. She agreed to actions that she couldn’t define, couldn’t comprehend, and didn’t even begin to understand. Seemingly, just like Paul, she wanted the ordeal to end. By this time, Lisa would have agreed to just about anything. She was ready to end the interrogations with Sharon Krause.
According to Lisa, the questioning done by Krause was constant, nagging, and she often felt like she was in trouble if she didn’t tell the detective what she wanted to hear. Now an adult, with children of her own, Lisa is clear on 2 points. The first point is that detectives, including Sharon Krause, badgered, harangued, threatened and intimidated her to agree with them. The second point is that none of the things she agreed to ever happened. Not a single one.
So how did Jennifer McPherson wind up in prison? The accusations can be traced back to a single person, the parent of one of the accusing children. Once she started the ball rolling, it gained momentum and mass, just like a snowball rolling down a big hill. She would put forth an idea, and it would grow of its own volition, boosted here and there by other accusers and the detectives assigned to this case. No claim was too crazy to entertain, and it appears no claim had to be supported by facts or physical evidence.
And the claims were crazy. Everything from hidden computers in junkyards, to screwdrivers inserted into sexual organs. In the late eighties, computers cost a fortune, weighed a ton, and only the wealthy connected to the BBS services because they charged by the minute for the connections. Yet middle-class mom Jennifer was accused of having one stashed under the hood of a car in an unknown junkyard. Here she printed off images (on a dot matrix printer) of abused and murdered children. How on earth could this go unnoticed? Wouldn’t someone find it odd to find power cords running from a car to an actual power source? Was there no concern about weather damage? One has to wonder what any jury was actually thinking here.
There were no physical findings of assault on the children either. Things like the claims of screwdrivers inserted into penises would have left damage. There would have been scarring. Considering the ages of the children, this is not an act that could have gone unnoticed for days or weeks on end. Yet, that is the claim. Oh to be sure, the state had it’s “experts” that claimed there was evidence. However, they have been conclusively refuted. The physical exam of Lisa is the best highlight of this. Lisa was examined under complete sedation. There appears to be no record of why he examination was handled this way. Yet the state expert missed that her hymen was present and intact. This was confirmed by other doctors on review of the photos, because yes, folks, they took pictures.
It’s also true that some of the claims of abuse were so outrageous the prosecutor refused to use them. Even then, they knew there were problems with this case. They chose to proceed though, using the spaghetti-prosecution method. They threw it all out there and used what stuck. Amazingly, even with all the accusations and yes, accusers of Jennifer McPherson, only her children were called as witnesses against her. This is because, simply put, the parent that initiated the very first accusations fought with detectives and prosecutors about what was allowed and not allowed, and refused to let her child cooperate when she didn’t get her way. If she couldn’t get her 15 minutes of fame, she wanted no part of it at all.
Jennifer was convicted because the prosecutors were better story tellers than her defense attorneys. They built a house of cards. It looked solid, but the walls were paper thin. The defense attorneys did not effectively do their jobs to tear those walls down. And as we know from the case of Dr. Ray Spencer, once Washington convicts you, they become hell bent to keep you, wrong or not.
She was convicted in 1987, and sentenced to 18 years. She was released in 1999 after serving 12 of the 18 years. In that time, her children had grown up, and her daughter had found her. Her daughter knew she was innocent and recanted her testimony. It didn’t matter to anyone in control though. To this day, the state of Washington views Jennifer McPherson as a convicted sex offender. Guilty as charged.
Today, Jennifer is 71 years old. She lives a quiet life with a much-loved canine companion and a few close friends. She has contact with her beloved daughter, but no contact with her son. She misses him greatly, and never blames him for what happened to their little family. Her regret is the harm that was done to him throughout the investigation, and her wish that she could have protected both of her children from it. Today, her fighting spirit is still strong. She has never waivered from her claims of innocence. She never will.
During my first interview with Jennifer, she summed up what happened to her and her children in a few brief sentences. “They murdered my family. They killed it. Sure, we were still walking and breathing, but our family was dead. That makes them murderers as far as I am concerned. They should be charged with it.”
Jennifer is still trying to clear her name (and the name of her son Paul) all these years later. She wants accountability. The state of Washington held her accountable for crimes she did not commit. She wants the people involved held accountable for the crimes they did commit. She believes they are guilty of misconduct, intimidation, child abuse, theft, and yes, murder. The destruction of all that she held dear was total and complete.
She might have been able to forgive them for the damage done to her alone. She understands the drive and desire to protect children. However, the damage done to her children was not done by her. It was done by the false accusations, the detectives, and the courts. She can never forgive them for harming her children. And so she fights, every day she still fights, to clear her name and the names of her children. That’s the thing the state of Washington left out of its equation when they chose to pursue this case the way they did.
A mother, a true mother, will fight to protect her child, even with her dying breath.