Ghost - The Rick Watkinson Story
John Coventry, Trish Faber
For most, teenage angst is like a sacred rite of passage into adulthood. You fight with your parents because they don’t like the clothes you wear or the music you listen to. They tell you to be home at a certain time and to do your homework. You tell them to screw off. Rebellion is a part of growing up; a cat and mouse game of sneaking around and pushing the limits of independence. But what happens when that rebellion is fueled by extreme betrayal, years of abuse, spiritual brainwashing, and a final fit of explosive rage? In the case of 16 year old Rick Watkinson, it meant one fateful night that would alter the course of his life forever.
Rick Watkinson was a typical American kid growing up with his mother, father, and brother in California. Idolizing his father Robert, a pilot, the young boy reveled in their shared passion for flying and fostering their adventurous spirit sailboat racing and travelling. But the strength of that father-son bond was crushed when his father filed for divorce soon after moving the family to Oregon. 10 year-old Rick was devastated – unable to comprehend his father’s wicked betrayal of the family. With his bitter and vengeful mother’s help, the love for his father quickly turned to hate. The center of his universe became the center of his scorn.
Consumed by her own hatred and personal issues, his mother was unable to offer him the support and security his confused psyche needed and craved. God would save them she said. God would look after them. They just had to believe and pray – don the armour in the fight against Satan and his army of demons. Ricky would lead the way, with his ‘special gift’ he was ‘Christ’s Little Warrior’.
Darkness, light, light, darkness. With his emotions slammed tight behind an iron wall of resolve, Rick and his lost soul took to the streets, finding comfort and his voice, among the criminals and socially angry young adults. They became his strength. They became his guide. If fences needed to be jumped, things stolen or sabotaged, it was often ‘crazy little Ricky’ who was asked to do the deed. This built confidence, and finally made him feel like he was a part of something again.
By the time he was 15, his mother had lost any semblance of control and had called her ex-husband, now living in Alaska, to come and get Rick. Rick did not want to go to Alaska to live with his father and step-mother. But he had no choice, and things did no go well for the teen. No longer able to withstand both the physical and psychological abuse, Rick snapped, and in a moment of passion, fatally shot both his father Bob and his step-mother Rosemary.
“Ghost” is the true story of Rick Watkinson, his journey from a tumultuous childhood, to his current stay and personal growth behind the thick steel bars in the Alaska State Penitentiary. Who is this man and what causes a person to cross the boundaries of humanity? Can these events be strictly traced to upbringing and environment, or do some people have an inherent propensity for evil? Is redemption or rehabilitation even possible? Watkinson’s compelling true story and subsequent trial and extremely harsh sentencing raise serious questions about society in general, the treatment of minors, and the power of the American justice system. Stripped down to its core, this is a story of a boy who just wanted to be loved. A boy who just wanted to belong, and be a part of a family, whatever that incarnation of a family might have been.
“This book is absolutely fantastic. An unbelievable but sadly true story of betrayal, child abuse and parricide. Fascinating.” (N. Boudreau)