June 28, 2010
Posted: 01:26 PM ET
Orlando, FL - Richard Jr., Stacey, and Cheryl Kananen’s childhood memories are permeated with beatings, rapes, and psychological torment at the hands of their father – a violent alcoholic whose hulking build was dwarfed only by his own sadistic streak. Richard Kananen Sr.’s reign of terror came to a halt, however, in 1988. Though the details of how he got there are murky, the 55-year-old Kananen Sr. came to spend the next 15 years buried in the garage floor of the family home, with a single bullet lodged in his head.
Investigators made the discovery in 2003, after a painstaking 20-hour excavation in search of Kananen’s wife, who’d disappeared months earlier. Marilyn Kananen’s remains were instead found a few houses down the street from hers, under a rock garden in her daughter Stacey’s backyard.
The three Kananen siblings are now reunited in an Orlando courtroom, as Stacey Kananen takes her seat at the defense table, accused of her mother’s murder. Her sister Cheryl has been a driving force of the 7-year investigation, and Richard Jr. turned State’s witness after pleading guilty to the killings of both parents – implicating Stacey as having a hand in their deaths.
Florida prosecutors originally charged Stacey Kananen with both murders, but dropped the case against her in her father’s death because they felt the evidence remaining after nearly two decades was too weak to stand on its own. Among several motives for her mother’s murder was a quarter of a million dollars in inheritance money, according to the State. She will face life in prison if convicted.
Richard Jr. waited until the eve of his own trial to point the finger at his younger sister, saying they took their mother to a movie and an Italian dinner the night of her death, then used a Taser to incapacitate her, and smothered the 65-year-old woman. Her body was found partially mummified, with her mouth and nose covered by duct tape, and one Taser dart stuck in her Disney denim jacket.
Stacey Kananen, now 43, says she learned early in life that asking questions is a dangerous business – and that she never caught on to her brother’s elaborate plan to cover up a murder he, and he alone, committed. While the jurors will not learn the fate of Richard Sr., they will hear from all three of his children about the dark and troubled world of their childhood, as issues of abuse and domestic violence, and their devastating ripple effects, take center stage in courtroom 7A.
Watch the trial of Stacey Kananen on In Session all week.
- Lena Jakobsson, In Session Field Producer
Filed under: Trials
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