The Murder of Robbie Wayne, Age Six
by Mary Jane Chambers
(Condensed version from Reader's Digest, November 1980. This story completely disappeared from view and has been unavailable for years..even from the publisher. Lia and I have transcribed it here from a copy generously sent by an English teacher who held onto it for all of these years. The story follows from here.)
Raw, shocking, tragic as it is, this story may affect some readers so deeply that they may feel unable to finish it. We hope they will persevere to the very end, because the case of Robbie Wayne documents a horror that has remained hidden in our society -- a horror that can only be overcome by a concerned and enlightened public. Robbie Wayne was a victim of child abuse. This book chronicles his short life, its brutal end, and the detective work that led to the eventual apprehension and conviction of his tormentors -- his own mother and surrogate father. Although names and places have been changed, the case is real, dramatically recreated from trial proceedings.
National statistics on child abuse are not easily available. Some one million children are known to suffer child abuse annually, but unreported cases may bring the hidden total to more than twice that figure. Even when child abuse is suspected, well meaning people are reticent about bringing charges -- as happened in the Robbie Wayne case. Neither statistics nor the long list of specific tortures that were inflicted on this particularly child can adequately describe this unspeakable crime, however. The case of Robbie Wayne is shocking -- but not exaggerated. More shocking is the fact that six-year-old Robbie was rather typical of countless other abused children whose circumstances will never be publicized.
Please read Robbie Wayne's story. It may help you save a life.
CHAPTER 1 - "WHEN HARRY MET LANA"
ROBBIE WAYNE'S MOTHER, Lana Wood, had been married four times by the time she was 24. Her job as a go-go dancer took her from one sleazy bar to another and left little time for Robbie and his half brother, Eric Bolton. Accustomed to shifting for themselves, the boys -- ages five and seven -- subsisted on junk food. Nevertheless, pictures taken of them at the time show two lively, apparently happy youngsters frolicking in the Texas sunshine, unmindful that social workers would have considered them underprivileged.
In the spring of 1977, after separating from her fourth husband, Lana was livining in Pecan Grove, Texas, with Harry Joe Doud, the divorced father of a nine-year-old girl. Tall, broad-shouldered, and a brawny 245 pounds, Doud was ten years older than the petite, brown haired Lana.
Not long after they moved in together, Lana became pregnant and had to stop working. Then Harry hurt his leg on a construction job, and the makeshift family's only income was his workmen's compensation payment: there was barely enough for food. Doud began to resent Robbie and Eric. He felt that they were taking food out of the mouth of his only child, Wendy Jo, who now lived with them.
During this period, Eric was having trouble in school, and Harry -- no scholar himself -- appointed himself the boy's tutor. Harry Joe was a hard taskmaster, a trait learned from his violent, alcoholic father, who often punished him severely "to make a man out of him." He forced Eric to study from the time he arrived home until late at night. When the boy faltered, Doud shut him in a closet. Some protective, maternal instinct in Lana Wood's mind asserted itself, and she decided to send Eric to stay with relatives near Houston.
In January, 1978, Lana gave birth to her third son. They named him Harry Joe Doud, Jr.
Early in April 1978, with workmen's compensation running out, the two adults and three children moved to Big Spring, Texas, where Lana found a job as a waitress. She left their trailer home in midafternoon and usually returned around 11 p.m.
Harry Joe did not find work. In fact, he did not look very hard for it, claiming that the doctors who declared his leg healed were wrong. He also was tormented by suspicions that Lana flirted with men at the restaurant, and he usually paced the floor frantically, waiting for her to come home.
Harry Joe had the notion that the children needed firm discipline and character-building chores. Wendy, who would have done anything to please her father, bustled about like a little housewife, washing dishes, sweeping floors, hanging out diapers. But Robbie, who had just turned six, often rebelled at his assignments, especially taking out the trash and picking up sticks in the small yard around the trailer.
One night, as she was cleaning up the restaurant just before closing time, Lana received a call from Harry Joe. "You'd better come home," he said. "I can't get this kid to stop screaming."
"Is it Robbie or the baby?" Lana asked.
"It's Robbie. He burned his hands taking out the trash and he just keeps screaming."
When Lana arrived a few minutes later, she realized that the burns had not been made by fire. The backs of Robbie's hands were dotted with holes which had eaten into the flesh. The holes continued to grow wider and deeper. Large blisters formed, and patches of raw, weeping flesh. But Doud refused to allow Lana to take Robbie to a hospital, and none of the home remedies she cold think of -- cold water, lotions, creams -- seemed to help. Soon Doud admitted that the burns were caused by battery acid. He claimed that the child had got into an old automobile battery while taking out the trash.
Three days later Lana took the boy to a doctor, who put him in a local hospital. Robbie spent ten days there before being transferred to a burn center. He was gone for a month.
Eventually, Harry Joe confessed to Lana that he had deliberately poured battery acid on Robbie's hands after the boy had refused to take out the trash.
CHAPTER 2: "A LOT OF BUMPS AND BRUISES"
Child welfare workers had begun asking questions about Robbie's "accident" while the child was still in the hospital. Their inquiries raised the fear in Doud that they might take away his beloved Wendy, and little Harry Joe as well.
Doud decided that the best way to impress the social workers would be to drill Robbie in his schoolwork (the boy was then in kindergarten) until he was letter-perfect. Doud thus resumed his distorted idea of education: punishing the child when he failed to count up to 20 correctly or faltered at reciting his ABC's.
He tried spanking the boy harder and more frequently, but the child only became more halting in his recitations. Doud also sent him to his room and, when that had no effect, locked him in the broom closet.
Robbie was able to recite and count for Lana and Wendy, but he seemed to freeze when approached by Harry. It was a vicious cycle: the more he faltered, the more frequently and severely he was punished; and the more he was punished, the more he faltered. Wendy did not do well in school either, but she was never reprimanded or disciplined by her father.
One afternoon, after all of his punitive measures had failed to motivate Robbie, Doud thought of a new spur, born of his experience in bandaging the boy's burned hands. He stuck adhesive tape to the boy's face and forearms. "Count up to 20," he demanded. The boy faltered at nine, whereupon Doud jerked off one of the adhesive strips. He recited some more numbers, omitting 15, and Doud pulled off another adhesive strip while the child screamed. This little game continued until Robbie's face and forearms were irritated and marked with the residue of the tape.
It was not until Robbie had left for school the following morning that Doud realized his mistake: the kindergarten teacher might ask questions about the tape marks. Yet Doud continued to inflict this punishment, until the boy's face and arms were raw and bleeding.
Doud then sought another punishment. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the entire family group was in the trailer.
"Say your numbers for your mother," Harry Joe demanded of Robbie.
"No, I don't want to," the boy answered.
His rebellious refusal hung in the air for a long moment. Then Doud grabbed the startled child by one arm, dragged him to the clothes dryer, dumped him in, closed the door and turned on the machine.
After the boy had tumbled two or three turns, Doud stopped the dryer, and Lana helped the terrified child out of the machine.
"I want you to count to 20, damn it!" Doud shouted. And as Lana and Wendy watched, too stunned to move, the boy began his halting recital.
"You forgot nine, you dumbass!" Doud yelled. Unmindful of his horrified spectators, Doud dragged the boy to the dryer, shoved him in, closed the door, and turned on the machine for a second time.
As frightened as Robbie must have been, he still was able to outwit his tormentor. On his second spin in the dryer, he braced himself so that we would not tumble as the drum rotated. This infuriated Doud, and he would have become even more violent had not Wendy and Lana intervened.
"Go sit in the closet. I don't want to see or hear from you again tonight," Doud commanded. The boy complied with relief.
A week later Paula Nelson, a veteran social worker, alerted by Robbie's teacher, knocked on the door of the Doud-Wood trailer home. Suspecting that Doud might be causing Robbie Wayne's strange bruises and lacerations, she decided to concentrate on Lana, thinking the child's own mother would defend him if needed.
"Robbie certainly has a lot of bumps and bruises," Paula began. "We don't often see a child so banged up."
Doud sat motionless as though bolted to his chair. But Lana smiled disarmingly and laughed. "Robbie is one of those children who get into everything."
Paula Nelson knew that the kindergarten teacher would not believe this any more than she herself did. But the fact was, unless someone either complained or confessed, she didn't have a case for removing the child from the home of a natural parent.
"Well, here's my card with my telephone number on it," she said to Lana. "If you have any problems, just call me."
She had given Lana an opportunity to report Doud's abuses. After all, a young woman who spends 40 hours a week in a restaurant has plenty of chances to telephone whomever she wishes. It was an offer Lana never accepted.
Some days after this visit, Doud formed a new plan."I think we should put Robbie in the orphan's home," he told Lana, " and let them see if they can straighten him out."
"That's a good idea," Lana agreed. "But we'll have to wait until his bruises heal."
This is a frequent syndrome in child abuse. The adults who have lost control of themselves decide to turn the child over to surrogate parents. But they feel they had better wait until the bruises and lacerations clear up. The tragedy is that, before the old bruises heal, the abusers lose control again and inflict new wounds.
Doud had also made another decision. "We're going to have to get out of Texas," he told Lana, "now that the social workers are on our case." So, two days later, they loaded Doud's old brown station wagon with their belongings and headed for southwestern Oklahoma. It was rumored that the area, having acquired new industry, had job opportunities; and Doud claimed that he was going to look for work.
CHAPTER 3: "A SLIM LAST CHANCE"
From time to time, all of us make decisions that may mean life or death to others, perhaps even to strangers. Airline pilots and surgeons are called upon to take such responsibility frequently, but ordinary people in everyday situations make life-or-death decisions too.
As the Doud-Wood-Wayne family drove onto U.S. Highway 20 and headed east, a middle-aged couple, Frank and Gladys Chapman, were preparing to leave their home in Abilene and west on the same highway. Later that day, they were to make a life-or-death decision regarding Robbie Wayne.
Leaving Big Spring, Doud and Lana were sitting in the front seat of the car. The middle seat was occupied by Wendy, Robbie and the baby in his basket. The back part of the station wagon was filled to overflowing with clothes, dishes, pans and other belongings.
"I want you to count to 20," Harry Joe ordered Robbie.
"No, I don't feel like it," the boy countered.
"Come on Robbie, count for your dad," Lana urged.
"He's not my dad," the spunky child responded.
This so enraged Doud that he nearly drove the car off the highway. Lana's reaction to the boy's impudence was to turn around and slap him across the face as hard as she could.
"I tell you Lana, were going to have to send that boy to an orphans' home," Doud said.
"I agree with you, Harry, but his bruises still aren't healed up," Lana answered, seemingly unaware that she had probably added a bruise or two a moment earlier.
It was almost noon when Doud had an idea that he felt would surely make Robbie obey him. When they pulled into a highway rest area for their lunch of potato chips and soda, he would leave the boy for a time, pretending to drive off. Doud was sure that would "frighten the orneriness out of him."
It was easier than Doud had thought. When they began to climb back into their car after the snack, Robbie lagged behind. Doud started the motor, but the boy remained seated at a picnic table.
"We're leaving you, Robbie," Doud called. "You're such a bad boy we don't want you any more."
Then he drove the car toward a remote corner of the parking lot. Just as he passed the westbound entrance to the rest area, Doud was startled to see a car pulling in and heading for the picnic area. It was Frank and Gladys Chapman, who had decided to stop and eat lunch. They saw the boy before they got out of their car.
"Look, Frank, there's a little boy sitting there all by himself," Gladys remarked.
"He must be lost or something," Frank replied.
The Chapmans, carrying their picnic basket, approached the table at which the boy sat.
"What's your name?" Gladys Chapman asked gently.
"What are you doing here all by yourself?" Frank Chapman asked.
"Harry says I'm going to the orphans' home," Robbie answered.
The Chapmans had raised a son and a daughter and were now the grandparents of two boys and a girl, so they knew that one cannot always take childrens' comments at face value. They could not imagine anyone abandoning a nice little boy like this, so they assumed that he had somehow become lost.
"Would you like one of my extra-special ham sandwiches?" Gladys Chapman asked as she opened the picnic basket. The boy wolfed it down. He also devoured an apple, a banana and two cookies.
Doud, never a man who could cope with difficult situations, had at first panicked and almost decided to abandon the child in reality. Fear that he had been seen by the occupants of the car coming in from the westbound lane prevented him from actually doing so.
He drove back to the picnic area, parked the car a short distance from the tables and began calling the boy. Robbie sat there munching cookies and basking in the unaccustomed warmth of two adults giving him their kindly, undivided attention.
"Come on, Robbie, we've got to go," Doud called.
Wendy Jo, dispatched by her father, came into view. But the boy remained seated, reluctant to leave. Finally, she took the child by the hand and led him back to the car.
Gladys Chapman was a very organized woman. Instinctively, she pulled out a pad and jotted down the license number of the car.
"He sure didn't want to go with them, did he!" Frank said. "Did you see all the cuts and bruises on that child?"
"What do you think we ought to do -- report it to the police?"
They pondered the question for nearly half an hour. What did they really have to go on? A child who ate ravenously, was covered with cuts and bruises, seemed happy to have been abandoned and reluctant to return.
The Chapmans were kind, churchgoing people who would have been horrified if they had known Robbie Wayne's true situation. They did not fear becoming involved as much as they feared making a mistake. If there was no substance to their suspicion, they would have been greatly embarrassed at having reported it.
"That little girl certainly seemed well cared for," Gladys Chapman reflected. "She was a polite little thing, too."
So they finally decided not to report the incident, having convinced themselves than any family who could produce such a nice little girl could not possibly be mistreating her brother.
The Chapmans were unacquainted with statistics, which reveal that child abuse is not necessarily inflicted on all the children in a household. Often there is just one who for some reason becomes the whipping boy.
The piece of paper with Doud's license number on it remained in Mrs. Chapman's purse for several days until she methodically threw it away. With it went Robbie Wayne's hope for survival.
CHAPTER 4: "LOCKED AWAY"
In Oklahoma, Doud got a job with a construction firm after only three days of job hunting. The adults also enrolled Wendy in school. They did not, however, put Robbie in kindergarten. Lana suggested it, but Doud flew into a rage. "Are you crazy?" he shouted. "Do you want the Oklahoma social workers to come nosing around here?"
So for the first week they lived a rather typical blue-collar existence, with Doud going to work, Wendy attending school, and Lana staying at home with Robbie and little Harry Joe at the Southwestern Trailer Court. But after three or four days on the job, Harry arrived home limping and complaining of great pain.
"I hurt my damn leg again," he told Lana. "But the doctor says there's nothing wrong. I told them what they could do with their job--I'm not going back!"
And so, seething with rage against a construction boss thought to be unsympathetic and a doctor who could not account for his pain, Harry Joe Doud shut himself away from the hostile world. Locked away with him was Robbie Wayne.
Severe disciplining of the boy began almost immediately. Robbie had long since learned to count to 20 and to recite the alphabet. If Doud had really been concerned about the boy's education, he would have enrolled him in school. But this inconsistency didn't seem to occur to him: He was determined that the boy was going to count to 100 by ones, fives and tens--and was going to learn to spell his name, not Robbie Wayne, but Robbie Doud.
Harry Joe would order the boy to count. The boy would refuse. Then Doud would spank him until he started counting. When Robbie got stuck on a number, Doud would spank him again.
The spankings began with a little switch which soon was discarded in favor of a board that measured two feet by four inches and was a half-inch thick.
Lana, who was at home all day during this period, regarded Doud's treatment of Robbie inconsistently. Sometimes she tried to get Doud to let up on the boy. At other times she, too, swung the paddle.
Doud developed a technique for accomplishing the abuse with the least expenditure of effort. He made the boy stand in front of him, bend over and hold his ankles. Then the 245-pound man, wielding the paddle in both hands, swung it with such force that he often knocked the child down. These beatings occurred three or four times a day at first, then escalated to five or six times a day.
Doud also began shutting the boy in the closet in the children's bedroom. This closet was five feet high by two feet wide, with no light, no windows and no ventilation. Harry Joe monitored the closet closely. When he caught the boy trying to stretch out, he forced him to either stand up or sit on the closet floor.
During this period Robbie was brought out of the closet to eat with the family, although food for everybody was in short supply and consisted mostly of oatmeal, beans and macaroni. Because of this scarcity, it was only two or three days before Robbie's release from the closet was postponed until after the family had eaten. He was then allowed to eat the leftovers. If there were none, he was given a glass of water with two teaspoons of sugar in it.
One night when the beatings, the closet confinement and hunger failed to produce an obedient child, Doud tried another approach. He filled the bathtub with water almost up to the top, then dragged the child from the closet.
"Count up to 100 by fives," Doud ordered.
The boy tried, but stumbled at 15.
"You dumbbell, you will never learn!" Doud shouted.
Then he picked up the child, carried him into the bathroom and held his head under the water in the tub.
"Now I want you to try counting again," Doud demanded.
Again the boy faltered and was dunked in the tub, held under until he was fighting for breath. Doud then dragged him back to the closet.
Robbie began spending 20 to 22 hours a day confined in this closet. Occasionally at night he was able to sneak out and snatch some food. Doud never caught him, but later discovered the food missing. He nailed the closet door shut.
This meant more torture for the boy. He had to ask to be let out to go to the bathroom. If Doud, Lana or Wendy were not around to bend the nails back, the boy would wet his pants. This enraged Doud so much that he forbade him to drink water.
One day Doud spotted an old extension cord with a broken socket. He cut off the socket, but kept the cord. He then dragged Robbie from the closet, demanded that he add some numbers. When the boy faltered, Doud plugged in the cord and touched the raw end to the child's arm. The electrical shock knocked Robbie down.
Doud picked him up and stuck the wire to him again. He did this over and over until the boy was relieved to be shoved back into the closet.
Doud and Lana stayed at home most of the time, but occasionally they would go out to buy groceries or to have a few beers. Robbie seized these opportunities to beg Wendy for food. The girl usually sneaked him some, even though she ran the risk of being punished herself.
Doud himself gave the boy something to eat about every two or three days, usually cold oatmeal with nothing on it, or a can of hominy (which the boy hated), or a spoonful of beans or potatoes.
By the end of the first week in July the boy was showing the ravages of his ill-treatment. He had lost 15 or 20 pounds; his ribs and shoulder blades stuck out, his stomach appeared swollen, and he was pale and weak. He shook uncontrollably most of the time. And, pitifully, he had to hold his pants up with both hands to keep them from falling off.
CHAPTER 5: "BETTER TO BE WRONG"
It may seem surprising that the other residents of the Southwestern Trailer Court knew little or nothing about the occupants of Trailer 27. But Doud hated and feared company, and forbade Lana or Wendy to invite anyone into the trailer. He had never had friends and wanted to keep it that way.
Wendy was just the opposite--gregarious and helpful. The neighbors often saw her hanging out diapers or running errands and thought of her as being exceptionally industrious and polite.
Wendy knew that Robbie's ill-treatment was wrong. But she was Harry Joe Doud's loyal, adoring slave. She either would not--or could not-- betray him.
Brad Thomas, the owner of the trailer court, later stated that at first he had no recollection of the boy. But then he recalled that one afternoon in early July he just happened to look out his office window and saw the little blond girl with a very pale, emaciated boy who was too weak to stand up by himself. As he watched, the girl supported the child, half-carrying him, half-dragging him back to the trailer.
It was unfortunate that Brad Thomas asked no questions. He assumed that the boy was "retarded or something" and that the helpful little girl was doing her best for him. Later he would comment that if he could do it over again he would report Robbie Wayne's case to the authorities, even though he had little to go on except instinct. "It would be better to be wrong 100 times than to fail a child like Robbie Wayne -- and to have to live with that failure the rest of your days," he said.
Apparently the residents of the trailer court did not hear anything suspicious -- none of the child's screams or cries. They did not hear anything even during the first week in July when Doud came up with still another heinous punishment.
They were all at home. In fact, Doud needed both Lana and Wendy to perform the gruesome feat. Doud removed the nails from the closet door and dragged Robbie into the living room by one arm. "Count to 100," he commanded. The boy stammered and missed 11 and 20.
Doud made him get down on his hands and knees. He then tied a string around one of his front teeth, fastening the other end to a door-knob. "You hold him, Wendy," he ordered, "while Lana and I slam the door."
The tooth was a baby one, but it was not loose. It did not come out until the door had been slammed several times.
Doud then demanded that Robbie count again, but the shivering child could not. Following Doud's orders, Lana attached the string to another of the boy's front teeth. Wendy held him down while the adults again slammed the door. After three attempts, the second tooth came out.
The next day, under the pretext of teaching him to count, Doud and Lana pulled two more of Robbie's teeth in the same manner. Unbeknown to them, they also fractured his jaw.
When they approached him again with the string, he suddenly was able to count even though his mouth was bleeding. Doud said laughingly, "If you could recite like that all the time, you wouldn't have such things happen to you." Nonetheless, the boy was shoved back into the closet without food or water.
CHAPTER 6: "THE FINAL DAY"
July 8, 1978, was a Saturday. Lana had got up early to report for her first day's work at a new cafeteria. The trailer was a mess. Dirty dishes and dirty laundry were everywhere. The baby was fussy and Wendy Jo, usually so helpful, was engrossed in a book and ignored her father's orders to "get busy on this place."
Finally, Doud thought of Robbie. He went to the closet, removed the nails and dragged the shaking child out.
"I want you to wash those dishes," he barked. Robbie was so weak it was hard for him to stand. Holding his pants up with one hand, he pushed a chair to the sink by using his free hand and his body. Shakily, he filled the sink with hot water, poured in some detergent and began dunking the dishes.
"Those aren't clean, you dumbbell," Doud objected, forcing the boy to wash the dishes over and over.
Lana arrived home shortly after noon, kicked off her shoes and lay down on the sofa in the livng room. "Don't flop down there," Doud ordered. "This place has to be cleaned up. That no-good son of yours can't seem to get the dishes clean. I've had him washing them all morning."
"Where's that precious daughter of yours? What's she doing?"
"Wendy Jo! Doud bellowed. "Get in here right now!" The girl hastily put down her book and reported to her father.
"You're not much help to me today," he scolded. "I want you to go into that kitchen and wash those dishes. Tell the kid that I want him to mop the hallway floor and the bathroom. Now move!"
Crushed by her father's disapproval, Wendy Jo did as he commanded, collecting the rest of the dirty dishes scattered around the trailer. In the baby's room she caught Robbie drinking cola from the baby's bottle, against Doud's explicit rules. Anxious to get back into her father's favor, Wendy Jo -- usually Robbie's advocate -- ran into the living room and tattled.
Doud stomped back to the bedroom, grabbed the culprit, lifted him off the floor by one arm and pulled him, screaming, into the living room.
"Leave him alone," Lana begged as the furious man and the terrified child entered the room.
Doud responded by throwing the boy to the floor. Robbie hit his head on a chair as he went down and landed with a dull thud. His screams stopped abruptly.
The child had been knocked down perhaps 300 times in the previous months. Each time he had got back up, either by himself or with the help of Lana or Wendy. This time he lay where he had fallen, like a broken doll.
Lana, Doud and Wendy sat staring at his crumpled form for a long moment. Finally, Lana broke the silence. "Let's take him to the hospital," she suggested.
"You know we can't do that. They'd ask too many questions. Doctor him yourself, " Doud ordered.
Lana knelt down and tried mouth-to-mouth resusication. But she had no training, and it is doubtful that she performed the procedure properly and after a few minutes she gave up the attempt. Doud threw cold water on the child, also to no avail.
Robbie was wearing blue shorts, a red-and-white t-shirt and a leather belt with a silver buckle, embossed with the figure of a bucking bronco. This is a uniform worn by millions of small boys on carefree summer Saturdays.
Except that this child did not run, play and laugh like the others. This child would never grow tall and manly. He had been born healthy and intelligent, and during the past four months he had demonstrated a remarkable courage. But the world would never know what he might have achieved. He had become a fallen warrior at the age of six.
Medical help was readily available. Less than three minutes away was the county hospital, a modern, well-equipped facility. Five minutes away was a military hospital, also equipped for emergencies.
It will never be known if the boy's life could have been saved by quick medical attention. But it must recorded here that Lana Wood, his mother, and Harry Joe Doud, his surrogate father, made no attempt to obtain medical help for him.
Finally, Lana sat back on the sofa, closed her eyes and began to cry softly. Wendy Jo, when she realized the truth, began screaming.
"What's the matter with you two?" Doud asked lightly, trying to ignore what must have become apparent even to him.
CHAPTER 7: "ROBBIE WAYNE"
"HE'S DEAD," Wendy Jo told him. "Robbie's dead."
Doud sat stunned, unable to move or speak.
Finally, Wendy Jo went to her room, pulled a sheet off her bed and covered the small body with it. This seemed to bring the adults to life, and they bagan discussing the situation.
"I think we shold turn ourselves in," Doud said. "We haven't got any choice."
"It's too late to turn ourselves in -- Robbie's dead, Lana sobbed. "I think we should go ahead and bury him ourselves."
"How can we do that? Where could we go?" Doud asked.
"I know a place in Texas where nobody hardly ever goes," Lana said. "We rented a run-down farmhouse there when I was a kid. The house burned down and has never been fixed up."
The discussion of the next move continued for the rest of the afternoon. The child who in life had been the bane of their existence was now -- in death -- an even bigger problem.
CHAPTER 8 - "A GRAVE FOR ROBBIE"
They needed money; something would have to be sold -- the crib, the new baby carriage, blankets and toys, some china cups, a cherished legacy from Lana's grandmother. These accumulated possessions brought Lana and Doud $43 at a used-furniture store. With that, they bought some food and a shovel.
When they re-entered the house trailer and were once again confronted by the fact of the dead child, Doud collapsed into a chair, put his head in his hands and sobbed. It was Lana--always britghter and stronger than Harry Joe-- who continued with their departure plans. She and Wendy packed their clothes and gathered up their other meager belongings.
Although this was July 8, they still had not paid the month's rent. So they waited unti dark, then stealthily loaded the car. On the final trip, Lana carried the small, sheet-wrapped bundle and placed it on the floor behind the back seat.
Three hours later, ouside Clinton, Lana directed Doud off the main highway onto a series of unmarked back roads, and with one final turn into a long driveway they arrived at the ruins of the old house, faintly visible in the moonlight. When the car stopped, Wendy seemed to be sound asleep, along with the baby.
Lana grabbed a flashlight, Doud picked up the shovel. After closing the car doors as quietly as possible, they approached the burned-out foundation.
Wind, rain and time had almost finished erasing the house, and now the bare outline of the foundation was all that remained. Lana walked over to a corner where a section of wall nearly two feet tall remained and indicated they should dig there.
Physical labor had never been much to Doud's liking. The ground was caked and dry from lack of rain, and he had a hard time breaking the surface. He made slow progress, digging, pushing and pounding at the earth, and stopping often to rest before resuming the distasteful job. It took him three hours to excavate a trench about four feet long, less than two feet wide, and about 15 inches deep.
"I think that will do," Lana said softly. She walked to the car and opened the back of the station wagon quietly.
Cradling the child tenderly in her arms, she approached the open grave. Robbie was feather-light in her arms. With tears forming in her eyes, she set the bundle down gently. She remained there on her knees for a long moment and then got shakily to her feet.
"You can start covering it up now, " She called to Doud, who was resting on the ground.
He halfheartedly began shoveling the dirt back onto the grave. Between his rest periods and his fits of temperament, the job progressed very slowly. After almost and hour, Lana intervened, took the shovel herself, and vowed that at first chance, she was going to dump this infantile 36-year-old parasite and start a new life.
"Let's drag that old burned-out refrigerator over here," Lana said. "It will keep stray dogs from digging here."
"You're going to break my back for sure," Doud grumbled. But with Lana holding one end, the hollow appliance was not very heavy. They added rocks and some junk that they found nearby. Then they went back.
The D.A. read whole passages of her testimony at Lana's trial. Wendy would look toward her father and then look quickly away and murmur, "I don't know" or "I don't remember." Much of the time she looked at the floor and did not answer at all. She fidgeted, she wrung her hands, she wept openly. When the little girl finally was excused for the day, spectators and jurors alike felt as it they had been through the ordeal with her.
The next morning Doud changed his plea to guilty, because, his attorneys said, he could not stand to see his daughter put through such torture. The district attorney agreed with this theory only in part. "There may have been other reasons, too," he explained. "After Wendy Jo refused to answer my questions yesterday. I got permission to play a videotape of Doud's confession given during a preliminary hearing. I was planning to play it in court today."
Six weeks later, the judge handed down the sentence: life in prison.
CHAPTER 9 - "THE SILENT EPIDEMIC"
IN OCTOBER 1979, an infant girl, suffering from two broken legs, a broken arm, and assorted lacerations and bruises, was taken to a Texas hospital. The doctors who treated her theorized that her injuries were the result of having been flung repeatedly against a wall.
This would have been just an ordinary case of child abuse, except for the identity of the infant. The little victim was Shirley Delores Wood, the baby born to Lana Wood in prison. Her mother and sisters had been sharing in the baby's care.
Those who study child abuse were not surprised at this turn of events since Lana herself came from an abusive home. Her hard-working, hard-drinking father used to take out his frustrations by beating his wife and three daughters. Her mother also lost her temper frequently, slapping whichever girl was closest. Child abuse is a life-style that is often handed down from one generation to the next.
(The remainder of the story is illegible in spots and would not have made a lot of sense if we had tried to transcribe it. It doesn't describe anymore details of Robbie's story, but discusses the extent of the child abuse problem, and the challenges faced by those trying to address it. If anyone has a clear copy of the last chapter, feel free to remove this paragraph and tack the remainder onto the end of this text. And thanks for taking the time.)