I’ve been dropping hints and teasers for the past couple months about a “secret” project I’m working on. I haven’t been intentionally teasing, I’ve just been so excited that I can’t not talk about it! Keeping quiet has been driving me a little batty, but I understand that everything has its own divine timing and the time had not come, “… the Walrus said, to talk of many things …” Well, the time has finally come.
My friend Stacey and I are working on a project that uses our biggest strengths to their greatest advantage. See, I’m a writer who loves to figure out what makes things tick, and she’s a person who ticks. Stacey Kananen’s family endured decades of horrible abuse by her father, who “vanished” in 1988 when he was shot and buried under the garage floor by her mother, Marilyn, and her brother, Rickie. Fifteen years later, Rickie murdered Marilyn and falsely accused Stacey of helping him. He avoided the death penalty by accepting a plea bargain from an overzealous detective who was convinced of her guilt.
Stacey, as is typical in abusive households, was taught to never reveal the family’s secrets, but she was forced into the spotlight when the story became national news. She spent three years under house arrest at her girlfriend’s family’s nudist resort until her trial, which—to her horror—was televised on CNN’s In Session, in 2010. The circumstantial evidence against her was powerful, and the trial was touch and go until Stacey’s defense attorney—in a flawless, Matlock moment—unearthed a last-minute piece of evidence, overlooked by the detective, that proved Rickie’s story against her was fabricated and that she has been railroaded.
I have five years of experience as a writer/producer for MSNBC.com and I am also Stacey’s neighbor and friend. Stacey and I met in 2004, a month after Marilyn’s body was found buried in her back yard. I watched this story unfold and attended the trial. Now that her privacy has been ripped from her, Stacey has decided to share her story and dedicate her life to advocacy for abused children. If her family had received the help they so desperately needed, her brother would not be in prison and her mother would be alive. The system is obviously broken, and needs new, fresh voices of experience to add their input. Stacey has asked me to help her with this monumental and important task, and I intend to do just that.
The project is finally at a tipping point. We’ve done enough research and have put in enough hours to know that this is something we really intend to do. It’s not just a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” scenario anymore. We’re still at the early stages: the book we’re working on has yet to find a publisher and Stacey has yet to find the right organization with whom to throw in her hat (maybe she’ll start her own!). But in any case, we now feel like we can talk about it to people other than each other and our families.
To that end, I did my first radio interview Tuesday to get the ball rolling and I received a wonderful response. People are fascinated, concerned and very supportive. I can’t wait to see where this path takes us! If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting status updates on Facebook and Twitter, and putting longer updates here on my blog. While you’re at it, why not send Stacey a friend request on Facebook and lend your energetic support to someone who is seriously stepping outside of her comfort zone.