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Mother: 'I'd rather be dead than have him dead'

Posted May 30, 2008

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— A Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son told one of her adopted daughters she felt trapped and frustrated by her large family.

Lynn Paddock, 47, is charged with murder in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of Sean Paddock. Investigators said Sean suffocated after she wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from wandering around the house at night.

Defense attorneys insist the death was accidental, not punishment or discipline.

In a telephone conversation played in court Friday afternoon without the jury present, Lynn Paddock told 21-year-old Tami Paddock that she was sorry Sean died.

“I’d rather be dead then have him dead," Lynn Paddock said in the February phone call, which was recorded in the Johnston County Jail.

"So why is he dead in the first place?” Tami Paddock asked.

Earlier in the conversation, Tami Paddock had asked how her adoptive mother felt at the time of Sean's death.

"Trapped, frustrated, confused, severely overtired," Lynn Paddock responded.

Lynn Paddock wiped away tears in the courtroom as she listened to Tami Paddock say on the recording that the two-year anniversary of Sean's death was coming up.

"He could have been 5 years old, 6 years old now. He had a life," Tami Paddock said.

Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins refused to allow the jury to hear the taped conversation.

Tami Paddock, the oldest of six children adopted by Lynn Paddock and her then-husband, Johnny Paddock,  testified earlier Friday that Lynn Paddock started beating the children when the family lived in Raleigh. The beatings got worse after the family moved to a farmhouse near Smithfield in 2001, she said, noting Lynn Paddock used switches, wooden spoons and PVC pipe to deliver the beatings.

Lynn Paddock home-schooled the children for a time, but that stopped after the family moved, Tami Paddock said.

Sean and his biological brother and sister were placed with the Paddock family 2005, and the abuse escalated rapidly after that, she said.

"I guess you can say she kind of went berserk," she said. "It was almost like she couldn’t stand children, which always kind of bothered me because I don’t why you’re going to adopt kids."

Tami Paddock said crying only made the beatings worse. Watching her beat the younger children was worse than her own abuse, she said, but she was powerless to stop it.

"I knew if I tried to help, it would just make either them get beat longer or make matters worse," she said.

Jessy Paddock, 20, Johnny Paddock's daughter from an earlier marriage, testified that Lynn Paddock exercised absolute control over the children.

"She had incredible control over me in all areas of my life, and I just didn't question what she told me to do," Jessy Paddock said.

Ray Paddock, 17, another of the adopted children, testified Thursday that the children lived in such fear of Lynn Paddock that they hid the abuse from Johnny Paddock and others. The children lied to social workers who visited the home, saying they were well treated, and they didn't talk with authorities investigating Sean's death.

When Sean's biological brother cried at the news the boy had died, Lynn Paddock hit him, Tami Paddock told jurors.

"She just had this really angry look on her face, and David started crying and she just reached out and smacked him," she said.

Both Tami and Jessy Paddock have been granted immunity from prosecution, since they were adults in the home at the time of Sean's death and during part of the abuse the children have described.

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  • Sweet Butterfly Kisses May 30, 2008

    I hope Justice Prevails for Sean, and let HER wish come true!

  • geraniumposey May 30, 2008

    Re the mother's comment: we agree.

  • geraniumposey May 30, 2008

    I think we all agree with the mother's comment. We'd rather have Sean alive, too.

  • teacher-mom May 30, 2008

    Well, you might as well get used to this type of story. As more people have children and cast them aside or abuse them, the work of the DSS will only get harder. I do not know who was not doing his/her job. What is important is that children are dying because adults are not doing the right thing. Ultimately, the blame rests on the parents. When you have a child (mother and dad) it is not about you anymore; it is about that child. I am sorry that DSS workewrs are overworked. So are teachers, so is almost everyone. This is not going to get better until people who cannot or will not look after their children stop having them. SWe need to stop subsiding this madness.

  • geraniumposey May 30, 2008

    Accidental? When you beat someone so hard they "accidentally" die, is it an accident? Lack of concern for a child's safety is no accident. Confining them in a strait jacket of blankets is no accident. Disregard for the safety of others, lack of empathy are traits of the psychopath.

  • stephba May 30, 2008

    anneonymousone-thank you for your thoughts. Trust me when I say that it was a LOT of work and many years to get to be this "intact". And I would gladly give up my ability to explain this stuff and not have my son have the memories of the abuse he suffered. But I am glad that some are at least acknowledging that there are other perspectives to consider. Mind you I would be first in line to whoop up on this woman if there was an opportunity to, but I do think people are pointing fingers at people (and minimizing these childrens' experience) without having any understanding of abuse or how the system works. Again, I implore any of you writing on your computer that "something should be done" to get off your duff and do something! Stop waiting for someone else to do something and make a difference yourself, even if for only one child.

  • didyouhearme May 30, 2008

    Ya. Because she was caught. That is the only reason she wished he was still alive. If she hadn't been caught, she'd still be beating and abusing. A year in jail will cause you to think about what you have done. Still, with some things, as she is writing, you can still see her animosity toward the children. She regrets not the death. She regrets being caught.

  • stephba May 30, 2008

    citizen782-you sound very angry and we all should be.Unfortunately,I doubt these social workers are really to blame(though I do not rule out the possiblity).Again however you should keep in mind that things work the way they do in the system for a variety of reasons.For instance,a lack of visitation may mean that the worker is overwhelmed with cases or it may mean that the visit of a social worker causes so much anxiety and fear in the child(of being taken away yet again)that it is in the best interest of the child to NOT visit often.Again,as I have said before,unless you are a social worker, have been adopted or been a foster or adoptive parent please dont be so quick to throw blame at these workers.They are trained and they do see countless things that make them remove children from foster homes but these arent news worthy so we dont hear about them.Once a child is adopted it is no different than a biological child,there are no social worker visits and can homeschool without question

  • mom2threecld May 30, 2008

    how could you feel trapped? when you decided to have a child, biological or adopted, it's for life, people should really understand that before taking the investment. i have 3, love them all, have a wonderful time with them, and yes wreck my nerves at times, but never trapped. it was a choice to have them and it was her choice to adopt them.

  • stephba May 30, 2008

    about the world around you is the VERY reason children (and even adults) often do not tell their story, because no one will believe them.Accusing these children of exaggerating is the same as saying they are fabricating or lying about the truth.I pray a child never comes to you with such horrors in the heart and you accuse them of lying.If anything, victims MINIMALIZE their torture and abuse (again as a means of surviving what some could not tolerate).I am sorry that these things happen and that they are outside of some people's realm of ability to accept, but they are true I am sure.Again, I speak as not only an adoptive parent but as a survivor of horrbile abuse as a child myself.Is it really so hard to believe that someone can be so evil that you are willing to look these children (or any other survivor)in the face and claim that they are exaggerating (lying or overstating the truth).I would wager there are some worse things that they wont talk about because of people like you.

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