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Charity Lee was at work, waiting tables in a sports bar when police officers arrived with the terrible news.
Her four-year-old daughter Ella was “hurt”.
Sent into a panic, she asked to be taken to her right away, then asked about her son Paris Bennett, then aged 13.
Charity had left the pair at home in Abilene, Texas, with a babysitter.
When police said “we have him”, that’s when Charity’s world began to fall apart.
She couldn’t go and see little Ella because her daughter was dead, murdered by her own half-brother.
Paris, a highly intelligent teenager with an IQ of 141, had convinced the babysitter she could go home.
He then calmly walked into Ella’s bedroom and began beating and choking her, before stabbing her 17 times.
The schoolboy then proceeded to call a friend and chat for six minutes before finally calling police.
He even pretended to carry out CPR before eventually admitting what he had done.
At first Paris claimed to have suffered demonic hallucinations.
But he later he made a much more chilling confession.
The teenager told police that he originally planned to murder his mother Charity as well when she arrived home.
But, as Charity told the New York Post, he then realised “if he’d killed me, I only would have suffered for five, 10, 15 minutes.
“But, if he left me alive [without Ella], I would suffer for the rest of my life.”
That was in 2007.
A decade later, Charity has bravely shared her extraordinary story of how to come to terms with the grief of losing one child, and finding forgiveness for the other.
Paris is now aged 24 and continues to serve 40 years in jail, the maximum sentence available for a juvenile for murder in Texas.
Understanding exactly what drove him to carry out the appalling killing is not a simple task.
Charity hired psychiatrists to assess him when he was 15-years-old who agreed he is a sociopath i.e. someone who exhibits extreme anti-social behaviour and lacks a feeling of moral responsibility for their actions.
But speaking in the documentary, Paris appears remarkably cogent.
“I chose to do my crime and I take full responsibility for my crime,” he said in a prison interview.
“And I wouldn’t say there was a predisposition to what happened.
“I’m not insane and I don’t suffer from any mental illness.”
Despite his cold demeanour, Charity is determined not to abandon Paris and continues to visit him regularly in prison.
And she is clear that jail is where he belongs.
“I have forgiven Paris for what he did, but it’s an ongoing process,” she told the Post.
“If he was free, I would be frightened of him.”
Charity now has a third child, four-year-old Phoenix, and tries to help other families cope with the justice system.
She founded a non-profit organisation called ELLA Foundation — an acronym for Empathy, Love, Lessons and Action – in 2011.
“On the night that Ella died, I vowed to do something meaningful in her memory,” Charity added.
“It also gave me a place to direct my rage, other than at my child.”
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