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Sleep My Darlings: The True Story of a Mother Who Killed Her Children in Cold Blood

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SLEEP MY DARLINGS Diane Fanning On January 28, 2011, the Tampa Police Department received a phone call from a woman who was worried about her daughter, Julie Schenecker. A devoted Army wife and mother of two, Julie had sent her mother an email that could be described as "suicidal." When authorities arrived at the Schenecker home, they encountered a horrific scene… Sixteen-ye SLEEP MY DARLINGS Diane Fanning On January 28, 2011, the Tampa Police Department received a phone call from a woman who was worried about her daughter, Julie Schenecker. A devoted Army wife and mother of two, Julie had sent her mother an email that could be described as "suicidal." When authorities arrived at the Schenecker home, they encountered a horrific scene… Sixteen-year-old Calyx and thirteen-year-old Beau Schenecker were found dead—both of them shot, then covered with blankets. Upon questioning, Julie admitted that she was "tired of the kids talking back" and just "wanted it to be over." Had her manic depression driven her to the point of insanity? Or was hers a case of cold, calculated violence and manipulation? This is the shocking true story of motherhood, mental illness, and two charges of murder in the first degree.


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SLEEP MY DARLINGS Diane Fanning On January 28, 2011, the Tampa Police Department received a phone call from a woman who was worried about her daughter, Julie Schenecker. A devoted Army wife and mother of two, Julie had sent her mother an email that could be described as "suicidal." When authorities arrived at the Schenecker home, they encountered a horrific scene… Sixteen-ye SLEEP MY DARLINGS Diane Fanning On January 28, 2011, the Tampa Police Department received a phone call from a woman who was worried about her daughter, Julie Schenecker. A devoted Army wife and mother of two, Julie had sent her mother an email that could be described as "suicidal." When authorities arrived at the Schenecker home, they encountered a horrific scene… Sixteen-year-old Calyx and thirteen-year-old Beau Schenecker were found dead—both of them shot, then covered with blankets. Upon questioning, Julie admitted that she was "tired of the kids talking back" and just "wanted it to be over." Had her manic depression driven her to the point of insanity? Or was hers a case of cold, calculated violence and manipulation? This is the shocking true story of motherhood, mental illness, and two charges of murder in the first degree.

30 review for Sleep My Darlings: The True Story of a Mother Who Killed Her Children in Cold Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The thing that bothered me about this book was the amount of filler information. Everytime the family moved to a new location, there was pages of description and history of the area. There was nothing much in the book that I had not heard about the case already.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    This is a rather short (ish) book on the murder of the Schenecker children (two teens, the boy 13 and the girl 16) by a mother who has had a long career of mental health issues. My first thoughts were: Yay! I've not heard of this case before. After which I felt rather ashamed of myself. True crime is one of the genres that make it seem like a horrible thing to want to read something new. rating: 3.5 rounded up. I enjoyed it but some parts I felt were repetitive (in the beginning and especially the This is a rather short (ish) book on the murder of the Schenecker children (two teens, the boy 13 and the girl 16) by a mother who has had a long career of mental health issues. My first thoughts were: Yay! I've not heard of this case before. After which I felt rather ashamed of myself. True crime is one of the genres that make it seem like a horrible thing to want to read something new. rating: 3.5 rounded up. I enjoyed it but some parts I felt were repetitive (in the beginning and especially the parts about the children's memorials. Everyone basically said the same thing for several chapters straight.) I wished she'd used a little discretion to slim that down a bit. I found myself skipping a bit when it seemed like she was repeating the same things over and over again. As for the story itself, I was prepared to want to defend the mother of being mentally ill. Obviously, a mother killing her children has to be mentally ill, right? So I was strangely stuck by the feeling that I don't believe she was -- or rather, it wasn't her mental illness that propelled her to do this. Don't get me wrong. I'm not someone who doesn't believe in the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. I've worked in mental health institutions. The mother just planned it too well. Even the text messages late that night were bizarre and didn't fit the pattern. In the afterword, Ms. Fanning speaks of men who kill their children to "get back" at the mother's but then went back on that and said no woman has ever been proven to have done that. I call BS on that. From the family drama, it was obvious that the small family was riled up and the daughter would soon be living away from the mother. It fits the pattern well enough. She planned this. She was of sound, lucid mind enough to drive far away to get that gun and she killed them at a time when there was no conflict. It's rather cold blooded. I do believe the father shares blame in it. I realize it was just a short trip of two weeks but if your children come to you afraid of their mother -- afraid enough that the daughter is PERSONALLY finishing paperwork to put herself in a boarding school to get away from her mother -- than he should've done more. Hell, the kids called the police on their own about a violent incident. Why would they call the police? Because their father probably brushed them off. He was worth 2 million. He could've had someone over to "babysit". Normally, I wouldn't put the blame on the other parent but this was just too much. Perhaps it's my own personal experience, though. I'm a Navy brat and my own father was gone a lot of my childhood. My mother was very depressed and despondent as well so I guess I just feel it a bit more personally with those kids more than another person (who didn't grow up that way) might. Final thought: I enjoyed it and will probably read it again. If you like true crime, you'll probably enjoy this as well.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Judy Croome

    This book alternates between reams of unnecessary facts (the history of areas to which the family moved) and a biased, anti-Julie commentary. There were also times when I wondered how the author could "know" certain things, for example, if Julie and Beau Schenecker were alone in the car when she shot him, how could anyone know what Beau was thinking and feeling just before his mother killed him? The impression I was left with - which started even from the sub title of the book - was that of a na This book alternates between reams of unnecessary facts (the history of areas to which the family moved) and a biased, anti-Julie commentary. There were also times when I wondered how the author could "know" certain things, for example, if Julie and Beau Schenecker were alone in the car when she shot him, how could anyone know what Beau was thinking and feeling just before his mother killed him? The impression I was left with - which started even from the sub title of the book - was that of a narrative based on a judgement already made: that Julie is a Bad Person. But, despite the pro-Parker (husband) slant to the book, one is left with certain questions, such as, knowing how damaged and unstable his wife was, how could Colonel Schenecker have left his children in her care? Ultimately, this is a shallow and subjective account of a terrible tragedy. Instead of wasting space on recounting unnecessary detail and an overt judgement of Julie Schenecker as "a cold blooded killer of her children", a more interesting perspective would have been a deeper exploration of the clearly damaged psyche of a lost soul. The ancient Greek tragedy Medea written by Euripides is a far more compassionate and deep portrayal of why a woman would be driven to kill her children.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Reading the book I was prone to only reading the first sentence of each paragraph. There was too much background information. I do not need to know the whole history of the university Julie Schenecker went to, or the history of the town they lived in or the record of the volleyball team she was on. The meat of the book could have been written in less than half the pages it actually was.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    I first heard of the Julie Schenecker case earlier this year when she finally went to trial. I had hoped that this book would give me some more insight into the case, into the mind of Julie, and even maybe into the mind of her husband Parker. What was he thinking leaving her alone with the kids in her state of mind? Instead the book started off promising, with the police discovering the bodies of sixteen year old Calyx and thirteen year old Beau as well as their mother who was drunk, or drugged I first heard of the Julie Schenecker case earlier this year when she finally went to trial. I had hoped that this book would give me some more insight into the case, into the mind of Julie, and even maybe into the mind of her husband Parker. What was he thinking leaving her alone with the kids in her state of mind? Instead the book started off promising, with the police discovering the bodies of sixteen year old Calyx and thirteen year old Beau as well as their mother who was drunk, or drugged or both to the point she couldn't really walk or talk. Then the story drifts a bit. Instead of getting in the backgrounds of Julie, Parker and the children, I read a history of all places they lived in a children as well as military bases and different military medals. As someone who also enjoys history if I wanted a book on the Kennedys the Civil War or Pearl Harbour I'd read books devoted solely to this subjects. Onto this book. Eventually the book becomes more readable and the author does do a good job building up the events that lead to this horrific tragedy. I still have to shake my head at Parker Schenecker and would love to know what was in his mind, why he left his children with Julie, knowing that at least in the case of Calyx, she was afraid of her mother. He got off too easily in this book. I had hoped for a deeper look at Julie's life what made her the way she is. Mental illness doesn't just spring on you, neither does drug and alcohol addiction without warning. To top it off the book ends before the case went to trial and so didn't even have a satisfying conclusion to the story. I only know how it ended because I watched the trial before reading this book. I hope that someone else will try to write this book, it is a gripping story with so many questions that still haven't been answered yet. This book had some readable parts, but for the most part was too short and didn't have enough details of the family, their relationships, and of the crime itself and subsequent investigation. I learned more watching HLN cover the trial.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    As someone who had not heard about this crime this book should have been exciting and at first I thought it was. I read every filler in the beginning and looked all the filer up but after a while it became more filler than the story. I am what surprised that some of my friends rated this book 5 stars. Everything she tells about and that is not much I could have read online. So much filler it got to be so annoying and when i finally thought we were going to get to the case in hand the book ended. As someone who had not heard about this crime this book should have been exciting and at first I thought it was. I read every filler in the beginning and looked all the filer up but after a while it became more filler than the story. I am what surprised that some of my friends rated this book 5 stars. Everything she tells about and that is not much I could have read online. So much filler it got to be so annoying and when i finally thought we were going to get to the case in hand the book ended. Before the trial!! So I ended up still not knowing much. This author wrote another book before the trial was held and I gave that book 5 stars because there was a lot in the book I did not know. That was about Caylee Anthony but this one is just bull. I will give it one star more because the writing is not bad. Pissed off. ETA: I did check online and found much more info there than in this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tija Addams

    I was so excited to read this book but was left really disappointed. 1/3 of the book was completely irrelevant filler information and the book ends a couple months before the trial. Thankfully I knew the outcome before starting the book but it was still a big let down. I’ve read a couple books by Diane Fanning which I’ve really enjoyed but I was very disappointed with this one

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Was a light read....skipped a lot because it was just filler. I probable only ha to read 1/2 the book, skipped chapter 2-10. Other then all the filler I enjoyed the book an can not believe it was based on a true story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    You can skip chapters 2-10 because they really have nothing to do with the story. (They are just filler.) Interesting story all the same.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I enjoyed this book but felt it was rushed to publishing. The case was settled in mid 2014. Why not wait a year and then be able to finish the story?!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Krystine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The beginning of the book was very irritating because of the unnecessary information about the various buildings, cities, etc. that were in proximity to this family. Some of the tangents Fanning went on were decades and even centuries past. There was no reason to include them and I felt that they should have been edited out. When the book got to the family and the aftermath of the killings, however, I was absolutely enthralled. I loved the level of detail that Diane Fanning gave to the children, The beginning of the book was very irritating because of the unnecessary information about the various buildings, cities, etc. that were in proximity to this family. Some of the tangents Fanning went on were decades and even centuries past. There was no reason to include them and I felt that they should have been edited out. When the book got to the family and the aftermath of the killings, however, I was absolutely enthralled. I loved the level of detail that Diane Fanning gave to the children, their friends, their interests, their goals... It was a really great way to honour the deceased. I have read many true crime books and heard many stories but this book made me sob on several occasions. I feel glad to almost know these children. The choice of where to end chapters was very sloppy and confusing to me. There would be chapters that ended with a paragraph about a totally different subject which dominated the following chapter. Anyone who took high school English knows that this is a faux pas. Do not introduce new information at the end of your paragraphs/chapters. Even when the chapters made sense, however, the following chapter would be the same court proceeding/events on a particular day. The afterword has some interesting information but included, as did the rest of the book, references to other crimes that needn’t have been mentioned. I do not feel that Fanning knows how to write a conclusion. The final paragraph was a series of questions followed by the most annoying final sentence I can imagine; “Only time will tell.” Personally, I would have liked to have the whole story in this book and for the unnecessary information to have been taken out. Rather than asking questions about what was running through the murderer’s mind (many unnecessary questions were asked, this is only one example), I would have liked this book’s publishing to be delayed until after the verdict and sentencing. Rest In Peace Beau and Calyx.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    It happens to greatly intrigue me when a mother kills her own children the very children that instinctually she is prewired to protect. It fascinates me because it goes against nature and biology, this case in particular is interesting because she killed her older children and it was premeditated. Although mental illness played a key roll. I found the specific details in this case cruel and unusual like the waiting period to purchase the gun didn't phase her plans. It was a interesting read. I wa It happens to greatly intrigue me when a mother kills her own children the very children that instinctually she is prewired to protect. It fascinates me because it goes against nature and biology, this case in particular is interesting because she killed her older children and it was premeditated. Although mental illness played a key roll. I found the specific details in this case cruel and unusual like the waiting period to purchase the gun didn't phase her plans. It was a interesting read. I was disappointed how we didn't find out the sentencing or outcome of the convictions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lauretta

    A very interesting and psychological in-depth look into filicide The book kept my attention until 3/4 of the way. Then I felt like I was back in college. It's a very sad, not evil, book. It left a lot of unanswered questions. A very interesting and psychological in-depth look into filicide The book kept my attention until 3/4 of the way. Then I felt like I was back in college. It's a very sad, not evil, book. It left a lot of unanswered questions.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This was a very empty account of the crime. Way too much information about the foundations set up for the dead teens after their murder and not enough details about their lives.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Allen

    Horrifying ordeal, but not a great read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andria

    Intrigued me and that’s not easy This author is good about historical detail and keeping the story line moving. I read this in one sitting. Close to Ann Rule.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Annie Booker

    Heartbreaking and an intensely emotional read but very well written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Claudette

    (Audiobook). I'd never heard about this crime as it wasn't prevalent in Australia. It's very sad about Julie's long mental history and the medical industry not giving out confidential information to her husband, when he wanted to know how best to handle her mental illness. Maybe with this knowledge he may have been able to help her before she escalated. I bet her husband feels guilty for leaving his children with their Mum when the kids expressed fear of her. Some may say why didn't Julie's husb (Audiobook). I'd never heard about this crime as it wasn't prevalent in Australia. It's very sad about Julie's long mental history and the medical industry not giving out confidential information to her husband, when he wanted to know how best to handle her mental illness. Maybe with this knowledge he may have been able to help her before she escalated. I bet her husband feels guilty for leaving his children with their Mum when the kids expressed fear of her. Some may say why didn't Julie's husband see the warning signs? Maybe because he wasn't around as much, serving a lot overseas. It was interesting to here about the different criminological labels on why mother's kill their children. I've always wonder why mother's can do this. Obviously there are any different reasons, from dissociation to mind distortion and just loosing it. What I don't understand if Julie had this long history of mental illness and she seemed incoherent when the Police turned up (evident of a distorted mind). Why did the jury convict her?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I do not usually read true crime, but heard an interview on this and upon seeing the book at the library grabbed it. I skimmed a lot of biography on the dad's history. I was really just interested in the mom killer with her mental illness. She seemed to be a weak and silly woman. I can say this with bipolar myself. I would not drink, nor play with medication like this. I would not allow any man to neglect me and my kids this way. I would go to my family who seemed to want to help. I know her min I do not usually read true crime, but heard an interview on this and upon seeing the book at the library grabbed it. I skimmed a lot of biography on the dad's history. I was really just interested in the mom killer with her mental illness. She seemed to be a weak and silly woman. I can say this with bipolar myself. I would not drink, nor play with medication like this. I would not allow any man to neglect me and my kids this way. I would go to my family who seemed to want to help. I know her mind was a mess, but I would not let it or go this far, but cry for help. I got more out of the interview. The book is okay. I am sad for the whole situation and the book aside; To just kill your kids and sit there? to have the boy scream as she did it as she looked at him? Evil.

  20. 5 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    On January 28,2011 Julie Schenecker did the unthinkable, she murdered sixteen-year-old Calyx and thirteen-year-old Beau Schenecker. This book grabs you from the start and does not let go until the end. Story is just horrible and makes you want to hug your kids and not let go. Diane Fanning did a wonderful job of keeping it extreme gore free but gives you a very real ugly look at the crime scene. The fact that Diane included the impact on the kids and staff at the kids schools, as well as friends On January 28,2011 Julie Schenecker did the unthinkable, she murdered sixteen-year-old Calyx and thirteen-year-old Beau Schenecker. This book grabs you from the start and does not let go until the end. Story is just horrible and makes you want to hug your kids and not let go. Diane Fanning did a wonderful job of keeping it extreme gore free but gives you a very real ugly look at the crime scene. The fact that Diane included the impact on the kids and staff at the kids schools, as well as friends of Julie gives a full overview of the whole horror story. The Father, Parker Schenecker, voice is heard loud and clear also. You can feel his pain on having to deal with it all and he did it with grace. Very good book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This true story is the precursor to the trial of Julie Schenecker, a Tampa, Florida mother, who after suffering from drug & alcohol abuse and years of mental issues, murders both of her teenage children. The wife of a career military man, and a previous military member herself, she has traveled and lived both abroad and in the States, dealt with moving her family, making new friends and appears to love her life and family. What makes her "snap" one day and perform the most horrendous act any mot This true story is the precursor to the trial of Julie Schenecker, a Tampa, Florida mother, who after suffering from drug & alcohol abuse and years of mental issues, murders both of her teenage children. The wife of a career military man, and a previous military member herself, she has traveled and lived both abroad and in the States, dealt with moving her family, making new friends and appears to love her life and family. What makes her "snap" one day and perform the most horrendous act any mother could do is questioned and analyzed. Now being held without bail, divorced from her husband, the trial of this Florida mother is scheduled for October 2014.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Misty Harms

    While reading this I was truly upset that no one paid attention to the red flags that were waving. I could see them from just reading. I am truly irate at the husband who knew his wife was mentally unstable and had to have some inkling that she was harboring unreasonable resentment towards her children, yet left them alone with her. She had been hospitalized many times before and just weeks before this incident. Why would you leave her alone with kids? Anyways the book was an okay read. It was b While reading this I was truly upset that no one paid attention to the red flags that were waving. I could see them from just reading. I am truly irate at the husband who knew his wife was mentally unstable and had to have some inkling that she was harboring unreasonable resentment towards her children, yet left them alone with her. She had been hospitalized many times before and just weeks before this incident. Why would you leave her alone with kids? Anyways the book was an okay read. It was bland in places as it didn't really go inside the story. It read as someone on the outside getting their knowledge from a newspaper.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gail Hedlund

    WOW! Whatta book. If you like true-crime this is a well-written quick read. I read it in a afternoon. I didn't understand (still don't) how a mother could kill such bright, loving children. When I saw this story in the news back in early 2011, all I could do was shake my head. Clearly this story is a heart-breaking one. I'm big fan of Ann Rule's true-crime writing. I think I've found another great true-crime author in Diane Fanning. Do not expect to find answers to this horrible crime in this book, WOW! Whatta book. If you like true-crime this is a well-written quick read. I read it in a afternoon. I didn't understand (still don't) how a mother could kill such bright, loving children. When I saw this story in the news back in early 2011, all I could do was shake my head. Clearly this story is a heart-breaking one. I'm big fan of Ann Rule's true-crime writing. I think I've found another great true-crime author in Diane Fanning. Do not expect to find answers to this horrible crime in this book, only because I really don't think that there are any. If there are, I believe that Julie Schenecker will take them to her grave. RIP Calyx & Beau.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barb Keryan

    Sad indication why the medical privacy laws are interferring with treatment of the mentally ill. Her drinking certainly made her medications less effective. Leaving her unsupervised was not a good idea, but she might have killed a care giver, too. Trial begins in April.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jama

    Big fat yawn. After two days, I read a grand total of twelve pages. It read like someone's term paper - not that it was a bad one, but still. It was as emotionally connected as a newspaper article. Informative, yeah, but who truly wants to read a 150-page newspaper article? Not I. Big fat yawn. After two days, I read a grand total of twelve pages. It read like someone's term paper - not that it was a bad one, but still. It was as emotionally connected as a newspaper article. Informative, yeah, but who truly wants to read a 150-page newspaper article? Not I.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Monica Smith

    I hated how the book would go into detail about the places they lived. But there was nothing new that I hadn't already seen on the news. I figured this book would have a better insight. A big let down I hated how the book would go into detail about the places they lived. But there was nothing new that I hadn't already seen on the news. I figured this book would have a better insight. A big let down

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Interesting I thought the story would be more about the family or Julie's story and leading up to what happened. Yet, it was more from a third person viewpoint, facts and descriptions of the case. Interesting I thought the story would be more about the family or Julie's story and leading up to what happened. Yet, it was more from a third person viewpoint, facts and descriptions of the case.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Not expecting much after reading her previous work. This was a case I hadn't heard much about and was sad to hear all the signs that were ignored when she wasn't doing well. People are so not comfortable talking about things that aren't 'nice' and I think that causes a lot of crime to happen. Not expecting much after reading her previous work. This was a case I hadn't heard much about and was sad to hear all the signs that were ignored when she wasn't doing well. People are so not comfortable talking about things that aren't 'nice' and I think that causes a lot of crime to happen.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Glen

    OK.... I thought it was so sad about the two kids. They were very sweet and smart. Made me hug my two even more!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Pretty good. Vacillates between 3 1/2 and 4 for me.

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