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Mother sobs when discussing boy's death

Posted June 9, 2008

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— A Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son took the stand Monday at her trial, weeping when describing her own abused childhood and when talking about the dead boy.

Lynn Paddock, 47, is charged with murder in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of Sean Paddock. Authorities said Sean was bound so tightly in blankets that he suffocated.

Defense attorneys have argued that Sean's death was accidental and that Paddock's actions were a form of discipline, not abuse.

"If I could take Sean's place, I would in a heartbeat," a sobbing Paddock told jurors. "That's a feeling I've never felt in my life."

She said she swaddled Sean in a blanket to keep him from getting out of bed at night to play and was stunned to learn he had died one morning.

"I started doing CPR. I thought he was still alive at that point. I thought there was no way he could be dead," she said.

Paddock also broke down on the witness stand as she recounted being raised by an abusive mother who drank and took pills.

"There was this big, very heavy PVC pipe that was also flexible, and that's what she used to discipline us," she said, adding that she was later placed in a foster home.

After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, Paddock said, she became interested in adoption upon learning that Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy's fast-food chain, encouraged people to adopt older children.

She and her then-husband, Johnny Paddock, adopted six children between the mid-1990s and 2005, when Sean and his biological brother and sister were placed with the family.

Lynn Paddock testified that some of her adopted children came to the couple with emotional issues and that other families didn't want them.

"We decided that, no matter what, we'd take what God brought us. Whatever they needed, we would give it to them," she said.

Deborah Artis, a regional director with the Children's Home Society who worked with Johnny and Lynn Paddock to adopt the children, testified Monday as the first defense witness that four of the adopted children had some emotional problems prior to being adopted.

One of the adopted daughters lied a lot and another spent time at a psychiatric hospital, while one of the adopted sons had anger issues, according to Paddock.

Lynn Paddock said she and her husband decided to use discipline techniques espoused by the Rev. Michael Pearl, an evangelical minister from Tennessee who publishes books and articles on rearing submissive children. She said swatting children with flexible plastic rods was preferred to spanking because it was less demeaning.

"We liked Michael Pearl's (system) because it was quick (and) it didn't demean the child and bring their self-esteem down," she said.

 

She described herself as a submissive wife and said she assumed the role of disciplinarian in the Paddock home because Johnny Paddock once got too angry while disciplining one of the children. Her ex-husband helped her purchase the flexible rods, she said.

Johnny Paddock hasn't been charged in the case, and he said he was willing to testify against his ex-wife, whom he divorced last year while she was in jail awaiting trial.

Prosecutors spent two weeks presenting testimony from the surviving Paddock children about almost daily abuse inflicted by Lynn Paddock and from expert witnesses who called the beatings and restrictions placed on the children "ritualistic abuse."

Lynn Paddock denied claims by some of the children that she wrapped their faces in duct tape or forced Sean and his sister to eat feces. She said she did make Sean's brother eat his own vomit, but said she thought he was acting out like two of the other children.

"I'm very ashamed. Tami and Ray would make themselves vomit, and I thought that's what he was doing too," she said.

Artis said she never physically inspected six children placed with a Johnston County couple because the children seemed to be adjusting well to their new surroundings. The adoption agency performs criminal background checks on prospective adoptive parents and offers them parenting classes, she said.

She wept on the witness stand when she looked at pictures of Sean's body, saying she learned of allegations that Lynn Paddock hit the children with rods and other devices through news coverage of the case.

The adoption agency has a "no-hitting" policy that the Paddocks signed, she said.

Lynn Paddock admitted that she lied to social workers about hitting the children.

Jurors also learned that the Paddocks received $2,200 a month in state subsidies for adopting the children.

58 Comments

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  • NCTeacher4327 Jun 11, 2008

    I'm quite sure a full background check was done before any adoptions took place, but that's really only helpful if she had been convicted of past crimes, which she obviously was not. I don't think it would be fair to prevent a person who was abused as a child from adopting. I know a woman that had a very abusive childhood and was adopted herself, much like the woman in this story, and I would be the first person to write her a letter of recommendation for adoption a child if she chose to go in that direction.

  • knock-knock Jun 10, 2008

    Does anyone believe this child beater.

  • sunshine1224 Jun 10, 2008

    NOW FIRST OFF...IM LIKE THE REST OF THE VIEWERS,,,CRYING ONLY COS SHE GOT CAUGHT..WHY DIDNT THE ONES WHO LET HER ADOPT HIM DO A FULL BACKGROUND CHECK ON HER? SHE SHOULDNT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ADOPT ANY KIDS...IF SHE WAS ABUSED LIKE SHE SAID SHE WAS,,,WHY THE HECK WOULD SHE WANT TO ABUSE INNOCENT KID(S) WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WAT HAPPENED TO HER IN LIFE? HER HUSBAND IS JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME FOR HER ACTIONS...HE HAD TO KNOW SUMTHING WAS GOING ON AND EVEN WITNESSED IT AT SOME POINT OF TIME..HOW COULD HE JUST STAND BACK AND DO NOTHING? WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD? ANYONE WHO CAN HURT INNOCENT KIDS DONT DESERVE ANY KIDS. ITS SAD HOW PPL CAN TAKE IT OUT ON KIDS WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT HAPPENED IN THEIR LIVES...SHE SHOULD BE PUNISHED TO THE FULLEST.

  • knock-knock Jun 10, 2008

    Mother! Do not call this monster a Mother

  • knock-knock Jun 10, 2008

    And, who care if the woman cries! And who care if she was mistreated as a child. No rights for the monster. Take her out of the world, satin waits with open arms.

  • inform Jun 10, 2008

    One can only hope the coverage of this story might save another child from the same fate. Adoption agencies, Social workers, and the teachers were negligent in their oversight responsibility. Expect a civil lawsuit, and I hope the DA office is looking into criminal charges as well. It makes me cry to think of that poor child, and NOTHING was done to prevent it. Lynn Paddock may be a product of her environment, but she's also an animal who deserves the maximum punishment for first degree murder. The adoption workers, social workers, and his siblings teachers who saw the signs of abuse, and did nothing, should be criminally prosecuted.

  • ++Ajax++ Jun 10, 2008

    There's a big difference between crying because of what happened and crying because you got caught.

  • NCTeacher4327 Jun 10, 2008

    Law Pirate--I'm glad to know that I'm not the only person who noticed that section of the article. Making a child eat their own vomit b/c she thought he threw up on purpose is absolutely disgusting and inhumane. Evidently, it takes an ECU education to have common sense.

    It sounds to me like this woman was digging her own grave on the witness stand. She whines about being beaten with flexible PVC pipe, and then she decides to justify her use of the same punishment.

    Also, who ever heard of swaddling a four year old? Some suggest swaddling infants because it's comforting to them, but I've never heard of that being good for a FOUR YEAR OLD CHILD. That's just hateful and abusive.

    Also, you people act like the money is a big bonus in adopting children. It's called social security, and the amount of money each child gets really isn't enough to provide all of their needs. People don't adopt children to get a paycheck.

  • hussy Jun 10, 2008

    This breaks my heart....I feel NOTHING for the mother wannabe...or her husband....he had to know something was out of kilter....there are ways to cope with children, regardless of what phase they are going through. Obviously these 2 just didn't give a squat. $2200 a month is quite a subsidy to the yearly income isn't it?

  • davidgnews Jun 10, 2008

    Sounds like some serious 'lawyer coaching' going on here.

    She is one pathetically poor excuse for a human being. She should be thrown under the jail.

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