"People view me as this dark guy, a killer. It's been a struggle for me to realize I'm the nation's villain. I'm really not. I'm a good person." - Erik Menendez
It is impossible to know who the first parents were that questioned what went wrong with their children. Even the Bible describes the adult children of Adam and Eve as far from perfect, telling of how Cain killed his own brother, Abel. Dozens of books are published each year trying to instruct parents on how to raise good, responsible children, but things still go wrong from time to time.
Of course, it’s rare that children turn out like Lyle and Erik Menendez did. These two brothers, raised by Cuban immigrants, had everything the world could offer. Not only were they wealthy and able to attend the best schools, but their parents seemed to dote on them, attending their tennis tournaments and encouraging the interests. Their mother was a housewife in the classic mold, who spent her days caring for the large, comfortable home and driving the boys to their activities. Their father was tough but, from all appearances, devoted to his sons, pushing them to strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives. This is the story that those outside the family told, and the one that seems the most believable.
So why, then, did these two young men commit the ultimate crime of killing their parents in cold blood? Was it greed and a desire to have their inheritance before their father, exasperated with their bad behavior, changed his will? Or was it in response to years of unimaginable secret abuse? After killing their parents, denying that they had had anything to do with the murders, going on a wild spending spree and then confessing all to their psychiatrist, Lyle and Erik Menendez suddenly began to tell a graphic tale of sexual exploitation and even torture, committed by their father with the mother’s permission.
For weeks in 1993, Americans were glued to their television, watching as the lurid testimony was given and refuted on Court TV. So convoluted were the stories that even the jury appointed to hear them could not decide the truth. The 1993 trial ended in a deadlock and led, two years later, to a retrial that finally found the young men guilty of murder. They were sentenced to life in prison, a sentence each continues to carry out to this day. But their testimony lives on. Was it a scandal so completely covered up that no one knew anything of it, or an egregious example of "blame the victim"? The jury made its decision, but the questions remain.
The Menendez Brothers: The History of the Family Murders that Shocked America looks at one of the most famous true crime cases of the 20th century. You will learn about the Menendez Brothers like never before.
©2016 Zed Simpson (P)2018 Charles River Editors