Some idiots would have you believe that men are willy nilly accused of domestic violence all the time. This case is closer to the truth. The dead mother's children--a 15-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy--told police back in August that their father had hit their mother with a stick, and apparently beat her to death. The daughter said the father had also hit her. Yet nobody would follow up on their story until now--which required that the body be exhumed and a proper autopsy performed. Nope, Daddy insisted that she "slipped and fell" (and threatened the kids that they better back him up) and all the authorities chose to believe him instead. A healthy 33-year-old woman slipped and died in the home. Right. And nobody was skeptical?
Though the children lived with the grandparents temporarily, note that Daddy was able to go back to court and get custody.
So whose word is privileged in our culture again? The word of women and children? Or the word of the father?
Husband charged with murder after wife's body exhumed
Family had pressed S.C. authorities for 8 months after children reported mother was attacked.
By Elizabeth Leland
Posted: Thursday, Apr. 15, 2010
A father from Bennettsville, S.C., whose children told police eight months ago that he killed their mother during a violent argument was charged with murder Wednesday, the Marlboro County Sheriff's Department confirmed.
Vander Simmons Jr. is being held at the detention center, a spokesperson said.
"We have a lot of mixed emotions," said Vickie White, whose sister Brandy White Simmons died July 26. "I guess you call it bittersweet. Again, there's no winner in this situation. We still hurt. We're glad to see that we've got closure."
The charge came five days after Brandy Simmons' body was exhumed from her grave, and an autopsy performed. Her family had pressured the state for months to have her body examined. The Observer began questioning authorities about the case in February and published a story last week.
"You don't know how hard I worked on this," Vickie White said, "trying to get somebody to believe the children, trying to get somebody to help."
She said Brandy and Vander Simmons had been a couple since eighth grade. They married in 2001, shortly before their second child, a boy, was born. She worked as a nurse at the local hospital; he worked at a carpet factory.
Vander Simmons told police Brandy, who was 33, injured herself in a fall at their home. She died later at a hospital in Florence, S.C. Her death certificate listed the cause of death as natural, and Vickie White said the family was told she suffered an aneurysm.
But on Aug. 2, the day after her funeral, her 15-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son told police they saw their father hit their mother in the side with a stick, according to the police report. The girl said her father then hit her with the stick, according to the report, and her mother told her, "Let's go."
The girl said she went to her bedroom and, according to the report, when she returned her mother was lying on the floor and her father was getting up from her body. The girl called 911. While medics tended to Brandy Simmons, the girl told police that her father told them to say: "She slipped and fell, you hear me!"
The girl said her father often hit her mother, the police report stated, but her mother asked them never to tell anyone.
The case was referred to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division for investigation. According to the police report, the Department of Social Services sent the children to live with their grandmother, Cornelia White.
Months passed, and the White family said it heard of no progress in the investigation. Vander Simmons went to court in February and won back custody of his children. He took his son to live with him, Vickie White said, but his daughter refused to go.
Worried about the children and frustrated over the investigation, Brandy Simmons' family turned to S.C. politicians and media for help.
"We need to know how my daughter died," Cornelia White wrote in an e-mail. "...What do I need to do to get help for my grandchildren? What do I need to do to keep my grandchildren from going home with the man who could have possibly killed their mother? What do we need to do to get my daughter's body exhumed?"
She said she was told that if she wanted the body exhumed, she would have to pay for it herself.
The Observer contacted SLED several times in February and March, but a spokesperson declined to comment. Finally last week, based on evidence presented by SLED, including medical imaging from a CAT scan, a judge ordered Brandy Simmons' body exhumed. Her grave was opened before dawn Friday, Vickie White said, and an autopsy performed.
In an interview Monday, Police Chief Larry McNeil said no charges were brought immediately after the death because "based on what we had, based on our interviews, people that we talked with, there was nothing there."
He said Vander and Brandy Simmons seemed like the ideal couple.
Brandy Simmons' family once thought so, too.
Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/04/15/1377397/husband-charged-with-murder-after.html#ixzz0lCzawo3U