Children Bid Abuser Farewell

RENO, NV - The obituary appeared in Tuesday's RGJ.

It refers to 78-year-old Marianne Theresa Johnson in less than glowing terms.

Her son Patrick Reddick says he and his siblings decided to pay their last tribute this way, exposing their mother for years of physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse.

The obituary says, "everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit."

“It was a disturbing obituary,” says Rebecca LeBeau. Executive Director of Child Assault Prevention.

Le Beau is one of potentially millions who have seen the obituary.

As Executive Director of Child Assault Prevention--a group that teaches elementary school children about abuse--she has no reason to not believe the Johnson's family.

“What a heads up to all of us, you know, read that, read those lines, what a horrible horrible thing child abuse is,” says LeBeau.

Reddick told me he and his brothers and sisters stand by every word.

We tried to find out more about Johnson by looking at court records.

She lived in a trailer on Wrondel Way in Reno and came to the attention of authorities after filing a police report claiming a man she was involved with was taking her money and running up her credit cards.

That was in April of 2008.

For approximately three years, authorities were called upon to check on her welfare; investigators refer to self-neglect and Johnson's refusal to accept help, even when her power was going to be turned off.

In late July of this year a lien was placed on the trailer, but by that time Johnson was already hospitalized and the courts were working on transferring her guardianship to Washoe County.

Court records show she suffered from dementia, bladder cancer, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure, among other things. In the obituary her children say they hoped in the afterlife she would relive each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame she delivered on her children.

Reddick, a child abuse advocate, told me the obituary serves to shame everybody abusing children.

He says they'd better think twice.

Reddick says he and his brothers and sisters were in and out of foster homes their whole life.

He days they were all estranged from their mother for 35-to-40 years.

The RGJ has removed the obit from its webpage, saying it needs to review the circumstances surrounding its placement.

But it had already been shared virally through websites such as Gawker.