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Why This Wife Forgave Her Husband For Murdering Their Children | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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OPRAH WINFREY: On Thanksgiving Day 1987, this man, Bartley James Dobben, made a stop where he worked on the way to a family dinner. He told his wife, Susan, he wanted to retrieve a Bible and show his two little boys his workplace. As his pregnant wife of four years waited in the car, he left with their two children. Within minutes, two-year-old Bartley Joel and 15-month-old Peter Davis were dead. Incinerated in a 1,300 degree foundry ladle in which their father had placed them. Here's how his wife, Susan Dobben, reacted at the time. SUSAN DOBBEN: I knew he could not have done this if he hadn't been insane. If he hadn't been insane, they could still be alive today. He would have given his life for those kids. OPRAH WINFREY: In May of this year, Bartley James Dobben was sentenced to serve two life sentences without ever a chance of parole. He was found guilty, but mentally ill for the killings of his two young boys. Joining us now is his wife, Susan Dobben, who says that she is forgiving her husband and want him home with her to retrieve and repair what is left of her family. She says he is a paranoid schizophrenic who was not responsible for his actions. She also says that one of the hardest things right now is dealing with the criticism from the community for forgiving her husband and ending the divorce proceedings that he initiated in April of 1987. Also joining us is his mother, Mary Alice Dobben. And she says that her son became fanatically religious when he was 16, and would push his religious views on everybody he was in contact with. She feels that he incinerated his children, because he was sure they would go to heaven. Later on in the show, we will talk with a man who killed his girlfriend, this man, two years ago, because his minister told him that she was a witch and a fallen woman, he says. He too was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. What to do with the paranoid schizophrenics of our society is what we're talking about today. Welcome my guests to the show. We're glad to have them. [APPLAUSE] So your husband incinerated your babies. Yes, he did. OPRAH WINFREY: And you have forgiven him. Yes, I have. OPRAH WINFREY: And I know that's what we're taught in the Bible. I know it's it's, it's, it's how we help ourselves, by forgiving other people. But I don't know how you were able to do that. Can you tell us how? How you've come to a point where you now say all is forgiven. Because well, if he had had criminal intent, if I had felt that he had, it may even with my religious beliefs, have been hard to forgive him. But I know him. He's a gentle, loving, caring man. He loved the kids. OPRAH WINFREY: How long were you married to him? SUSAN DOBBEN: It's been six years now. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Four years at the time. OPRAH WINFREY: Four years at the time. Mm-hmm. And was there anything at any time, because it's always easier to Monday morning quarterback, to look back in retrospect and say, well, I saw the sign there and there was a day, and I should have known. Was there anything that could have indicated that he might have at least done something strange to you or the children? He had had a break in 1985 where he thought that Joel was going to be killed. And we were on a vacation, and he took us on a, took, well, we got there, and then he wanted to turn, I wanted to turn around and go back home because he felt that there was a, the baby was in danger. And we turned around and we went on an 80 mile an hour ride through a curve, curves, and to his sister's house who was taking care of the baby while we were gone. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And the baby was fine when we got there. OPRAH WINFREY: What, he just thought, he had a thought that something was going? SUSAN DOBBEN: He felt that God was telling him that the baby was in danger. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And what did you think of that when that happened? Did you think that this is strange or that this is normal behavior or that that was OK or what? No, I knew that there was something wrong. Well, it's actually, it started a couple of days before that. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. He called me on the phone and said that he was scared and to come get him. And he was at a shop working on his car. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And I said, what do you mean, come get you? You have your own car. But he said he was, you know, he had such terror in his voice, that I immediately got my mom to watch Joel and I took off to go get him and see what was wrong. And he was totally bizarre, saying strange things, muttering things that didn't make any sense. And so I put him in the car and got, we went home and I called his parents and we talked about it. He um. OPRAH WINFREY: She called you, Aunt Mary, and what did she say? And what did you think after the call? She just, she didn't know what, what was happening. He had gone there apparently to help a fella and they were working on cars, and had his own car. But when she got there, she just, she didn't know whether he had gotten into some drugs, someone had given him drugs. It was almost that type of feeling, which you know, totally was unusual for Bart. He didn't, he didn't do drugs and that type of thing. SUSAN DOBBEN: Yeah, and at that time, I just, still didn't know, hadn't any idea of mental illness. I thought, you know, like it was the drugs, if we went on a vacation and got away for a couple of days, he'd be fine. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Did you ask him? Did you say, is there something wrong with you? SUSAN DOBBEN: Yeah, I asked him, what's wrong with you. But he didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with him. OPRAH WIN FREY: Mm-hmm. He didn't really answer me.

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