Last September, my co-author Stacey M. Kananen and I traveled to Orlando to participate in our very first (and hopefully not our last) national television show based on Stacey’s incredible life story and our upcoming book, Fear of our Father.
Stacey being hooked up to her wireless microphone.
We’ve had to keep quiet about it until an official airdate was scheduled, and you better believe that was hard to do! The show, which will air March 3, 2013 on the Investigation Discovery channel (also known as ID), is called Catch My Killer.
The show is about cold cases, and they were interested in featuring the Kananen family’s saga because her father was “missing”– buried under the garage floor of the family home–for fifteen years before police discovered that he was dead, killed with a single bullet to the head.
While the reason for the book’s existence is sad and horrifying, participating in the taping of this show was an incredible experience. In case you’re not familiar with Stacey’s story, here is a synopsis (from the book cover):
Even after a childhood of abuse and fear, Stacey M. Kananen was shocked when her brother, Rickie, admitted his guilt in the cold-blooded murder of their terrifying father, and years later, their helpless mother. But the greatest shock was to come—when he claimed that Stacey had helped him.
In 1988, when Rickie and Stacey’s father, Richard Kananen Sr., apparently left their home in Orlando, Florida, the family was so relieved that they never reported him missing. Fifteen years later to the day, their mother disappeared. When police became suspicious, Rickie admitted to Stacey that their father’s body was under the cement floor of their mother’s garage, and their mother was buried in Stacey’s own backyard.
Overwhelmed by grief and horror, Stacey’s brother convinced her that they should commit suicide. After a failed attempt, she woke to discover her brother arrested—along with the realization that he had probably never intended to kill himself at all. But his betrayals were not yet over: On the eve of his trial in 2007, he suddenly claimed Stacey had been in on it, and she found herself charged with murder with a gung ho rookie detective who was convinced she was involved.
This is the tragic and triumphant account of one woman’s struggle to overcome her past, clear her name in what would become a dramatic public spectacle of a trial, and finally escape the nightmares that had haunted her entire life.
Susan Cowan’s interview.
I haven’t seen the show yet, but the production crew was so professional and easy to work with that I’m sure they did an incredible job piecing together all of the interviews with the dramatization of the crimes and Stacey’s trial.
They asked Stacey the hard questions, the same questions that you would want to ask, and she was forthcoming with her responses. It was difficult for her to, once again, relive the abuse, the murders and the trial but she came through like a champ.
The crew gets some “B-roll” footage of Stacey and Susan looking at family photos.
We’re hoping for some big things as a result of this book. Stacey has already been featured on an Emmy-nominated BBC documentary, America’s Child Death Shame, and our fledgling advocacy program, currently called Amnesty From Abuse (that could change, as the program evolves) is an exciting new and holistic way of working with dysfunctional and abusive families.
Stacey’s reasons for writing a book are sort of contradicted by the fact that it’s being published in the “true crime” genre, but the story is so compelling that it’s so much more than just an autobiography. Our intent is that the book will bring attention to the fact that we, as a society, still have not come up with a workable solution to the overwhelming amount of domestic violence that still takes place in our country, where we like to think of ourselves as enlightened and evolved. In some ways, we still have a lot of work to do. I, for one, am thankful that Stacey is willing to set aside her desire to live a private life and step into the public arena in this way.
Fear of Our Father is available for pre-order now. The official publication date is June 4, 2013.