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Serial Killer Coversations

Date Saturday - January 28, 2017
Host Dave Schrader
Guests Mark AnthonyClaudia Rowe

Dave Schrader (email) welcomed journalist Claudia Rowe, who was a young reporter working as a stringer for the New York Times in 1998 when Kendall Francois was arrested after police discovered eight decayed bodies stashed in his family home. Rowe detailed her intense four-year conversation with the killer through letters, phone calls and face-to-face meetings, in which she discovered troubling truths and social realities that had allowed Kendall’s crimes to go unnoticed for years. Rowe was living in Poughkeepsie, New York when the story broke and said she was "struck by the sharp contrast between the way that the community talked about itself" and what it looked like from outside, which may have allowed the killings to go on for a longer period.

Rowe said that Francois lived in a house with his parents and younger sister, but that there was little contact between the family members. "There was almost no sense of the family as a unit" she continued, and the home was empty during the day when he brought prostitutes there because his parents were at work and his sister was at school. The women were murdered and the bodies were hidden in the attic in a plastic kiddie pool. She said that the Francois family were hoarders and that the home was in such a shocking state when they police finally arrived to arrest the killer that it would actually have been difficult to tell that there were decaying bodies inside.

Francois was not a loner or strange in the ways that we sometimes associate with disturbed or violent individuals. Rowe painted a picture of a man who was "an enormous overgrown child" (Francois was six feet, four inches tall and weighed 300 pounds) who friends described as a "gentle giant." He was sociable and involved with others, and Rowe said that he especially liked games because of the order that the rules impose on behavior. A defining problem in his life was a deep hatred and rage towards women, and this could be triggered by any sign of rejection or humiliation. In the end, Rowe said, her book is about living in a state of denial and the damage that this can cause, as well as her contention that "we must look more closely at that which repels us" in order to recognize potential killers such as Kendall Francois.

"Broken Heart Syndrome"

Joining Dave in the first hour, fourth generation psychic medium Mark Anthony discussed how the death of a loved one can lead to "Broken Heart Syndrome.” Anthony pointed out that the recent deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds have brought this issue to the forefront of the news. Anthony said the syndrome is a real medical condition brought on by grief that actually enlarges a section of the heart and if untreated, can cause death. Treatments, he noted, include medication, but more importantly, through healing by actions, such as mediation, prayer, grief counseling, and exercise. He referred to a study that found that tears of grief contain many of the hormones associated with loss and depression, and suggested that crying can actually rid the body of some of their effects. Anthony concluded that "You can’t change the fact that someone you love has died, but you can change your reaction to it."

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