Like a lot of folks my age, I remember the media frenzy that was the Menendez brothers’ trial. I remember how the media swarmed when it was revealed that police suspected the brothers killed their parents motivated by greed and selfishness. I remember how I snickered along with most reporters, pundits, and comedians when the brothers’ claims of abuse were revealed. I remember watching as the Menendez brothers’ tears and breakdowns on the witness stand were mocked and mimicked *ad nauseum*. It became impossible to separate out the facts of the case from the media circus and mockery that surrounded it. Few people had any sympathy for these two privileged, rich boys who slaughtered their parents because they wanted money and freedom. The brothers were convicted. The media would periodically revisit the case near an anniversary and if there was a slow news day but that was it. Another media circus would pull into town to draw their attention and feed our relentless need for distraction and amusement.
The Menendez murders recently came back into mainstream attention due to the ABC documentary *”Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers — American Sons, American Murderers”*. While re-watching the media footage of Lyle Menendez on the stand as he broke down while admitting that not only had he been molested by their father but that he had molested his brother, my opinion about this case changed. Along with most people at the time, I refused to even consider that the brothers had been molested. I viewed it as an attempt to justify their actions and garner sympathy. I was unaware there was corroborating evidence supporting their claims of sexual abuse by their father. Even if I had been aware of it at the time, the odds are the I would have ignored it. With the passage of time and maturity on my part, I was more open to hearing facts of the case I’d previously ignored. In September, NBC will run a program entitled Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. I have no idea what its focus will be but based on the ads, the trial will feature prominently.
Watching the documentary made me reconsider my beliefs about the Menendez brothers’ motivation for murdering their parents. The reality is that in most of the cases with which I’m familiar, abuse played a starring role for the child’s actions. I’m not taking a stance on whether such actions are justifiable, simply interested in trying to gain some insight into what pushed these brothers over the edge and led to the murders.
Using the Dark Days Tarot, I drew three cards to acquire some insight into this situation and pulled the 3 of Cups (tilted left – which subtle impacts the cards meaning in this deck), 2 of Swords and 4 of Cups. I studied these cards for a while because I am not familiar with this deck and began to realize that despite the celebrating that appears to be going on in the 3 of Cups, its leftward tilt makes me feel that things were not as they seemed. There was no celebration and joy inside this family, it was an act put on for observers. I don’t know any more about Joe and Kitty Menendez than was revealed on the ABC documentary. It certainly made the father out to be a driven, successful, Type A personality who had a history of infidelity. The mother, Kitty, is portrayed as either complicit in her husband’s abuse of the boys or deliberately obtuse. I’ve often thought this might explain why the brothers killed their mother as well as their father. If the father abused the brothers and the mother did nothing to protect them, their rage towards her must have been just as consuming.
While I make no claims to having gained much additional insight into the Menendez brothers decision, this reading does seem to at least reinforce my belief in their claims there was sexual and emotional abuse in this family. While it might not excuse murdering their parents, it does make more sense than simple greed. I realize greed is a major motivation for many murders but killing one’s parents takes things up a notch. Even the most abused child will often cling to the abusive parent. For the Menendez brothers to be driven to take such dramatic action, I have to believe more than greed was involved. Of course, your mileage may vary and others may draw very different interpretations from these cards but this is my interpretation and I’m sticking with it.