Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Testimony from Mountain Park Academy in Missouri

We just learned that one of the men who were convicted of killing William Andrew Futrelle II in 1996 has died in prison. In cases where students have tried or succeeded in killing another student just to end up in prison instead people are often asking: Why? How can it be so gruesome to be at a boarding school that the only option seems to take another persons life? Mountain Park was no especially bad. It was just a normal religious boarding school as they still exist today. So it is just a matter of time before the next tragedy happens. Two men ended up in prison as result of the murder and one family never got their son back.

Should it not be the time where Missouri intervenes and demands oversight over religious boarding school so students are not restricted to their campus but can get weekend off from day one to spend in the community? Of course. We are speaking 2015. The murder happended decades ago and nothing has happen. Here is a testimony from a girl who attended the boarding school at the same time of the murder:


I don't remember much, having blocked a lot out and from the effects of the thorazine, but here's what i do remember:

I left for Mountain Park on August 25, 1995. My parents and I were driving from Florida, and it took us 2 days to get there. I knew that I was going to a boarding school, and I even knew that it was a "Christian" school. I had no problems with that, I was raised a Catholic (sort of) and I thought that God was alright. I was 13 when my parents decided to send me there. I wasn't an awful kid, but I was back talking, I failed science (a big deal for a 7th grader), and I was getting into shoplifting from the local stores. My best friend at the time, who I considered much wiser than I, had gone to a European boarding school, and typical of 7th grade, I wanted to out do her. So of course, when my parents broached the subject of a boarding school for me, I jumped at it. What did I know?? Anyways, we left home and made the trip to the Ozarks.

On August 28, 1995, we drove up to the school that would become my hell. I remember that I was wearing a black skirt, a wildly printed black silk shirt, and black heels. I remember thinking, "This won't be so bad. These people seem nice." When my parents came down to say goodbye, I hugged and kissed them, not knowing it would be the last time I would see them for four months.

No one was out right mean to me the first few days, and I think that was because I was too scared to hardly talk to anyone. I do remember after the first shower I took there I wanted to "scrunch" my hair, because it's naturally curly, and I was told that I wasn't allowed to do that. I thought it was strange, but I agreed.

I cried a lot my first couple of days, and in one of the first letters I wrote home, I said that the water spot on the page was real tears (it was) and I was crying them because I hated my parents for leaving me there. That was when I got labeled as a troublemaker and a crybaby. From that day on, everything changed. I was not longer the "girl they would have no trouble with". I became the child from hell that needed to be taught a lesson. If I was ever seen in public crying, I was ridiculed. If I ever wrote a letter home asking why I was there, I was ridiculed.

I remember the incident that cemented my humiliation and degradation. Before I left home for MP, I had my hair cut and I had bought a shampoo that doubled as a body wash. (I still remember that it smelled like bubble gum.) I got out of the shower one day after using it as both and the shower monitor noticed that the bag with my bar of soap in it was still dry. My OG looked as if she wanted to die because she had a "dirty" new student. I was taken to Mama's office where I tried to explain that I could use it as both, but they just laughed me off. I even tried to show them the bottle, but they would have none of it. Debbie said that if I wasn't going to wash myself that she would wash me. I told her that I did wash and she said I was lying, and I got my first swats. Ten, to be exact. Then to top it off, she took me to the showers in First Dorm and made me get back in where she proceeded to watch me as I showered again. She also said that I had bruises on me from the paddle and that was a good thing because maybe whenever I sat down I would remember that I would get punished for lying. Needless to say, they decided that I was not to be trusted anymore. That is also when I got the famed "soap-box necklace" and the baby chair. They told me that if I couldn't bathe like an adult, I needed to be reminded by the soap boxes around my neck and that I needed to sit on a chair to remind myself that I was a baby who couldn't wash. Talk about humiliation. I was forced to wear and carry those things for at least a month. I can't remember how many times I stood up in church and said that I got "saved" or that I "rededicated" my life to God. One night Sam even said to me, "Are you sure this is for real? Are you ready to get rid of the soap-boxes?" Even now, I cringe.

On the coveted day that I gained my "freedom" as a single girl, I swore to myself that I would stay out of trouble. I don't remember what I did to get in trouble again, but once again, I found myself in trouble. This time, though, they told me I had to write the word hateful 5000 times. I thought that then, I would be home free. Little did I know that my life, as I knew it even at MP, was about to change.

From that time on, no matter what I did, I got in trouble. I was on silence, I had a baby chair, you name it, they did it. I was on "silence" for months, not allowed to talk to anyone but staff.

I remember when Will Futrelle was killed. (For those who don't know, Will was part of a group that planned to take over the school. He changed his mind and the other boys didn't want him to tell, so they murdered him.) It hit home for me because I was from Boca Raton too. I didn't know him, but some of the other Florida girls did. I felt bad for them.

When Child Protective Services (CPS) came to the school to interview us, I was so nervous that I nearly forgot my name because I didn't want to say anything negative towards the school and get into more trouble than ususal. The second time they came, which was about 3 or 4 months later, I had my first interview with them and then I was called back for a second interview because one of the other girls (I know now she was trying to look our for me) had said that I was treated badly. I was so scared that they were going to take me out of the school that I just cried and begged to be let go. When they dismissed me I went crying back to the dorm where I was promptly told to quit crying because no one wanted to take me away. I wasn't important enough.

When my mother finally realized all that was going on, and to the extent that it was, she told the school that she was coming to get me. At the time, I had a perpetual writing assignment from Mama. I was to write 200 lines a day, for 7 consecutive days. If I missed a day, I had to start all over. This had been going on for probably 2 months, and I had been told I was not allowed to exercise with the others, or go swimming. I went from 136 lbs. up to 150 lbs. in 2 months. The day my mother took me out of that hell-hole would have been my 7th day of writing lines. Ironic, isn't it? I also was not told until she was an hour away that I was going home. I panicked. I didn't think I was ready to go home!! On August 18, 1997, my mother rescued me from the hell that was, and is, MP.

When I first got home, I had to go to public school, because my parents were broke from MP and couldn't afford my church's school (HCA). What a culture shock. It was there that I learned about all I had missed in the last 2 years. I learned about OJ, the internet, Princess Di, and a multitude of other things, from an 11 year old, the only person I felt I could relate to. I was 15, and I was being taught by an 11 year old. By the end of my sophomore year, I was back in my shorts, my jeans, and trying to figure out who I was away from MP. Because I was bitter about MP, and because I had never really changed, I went right back to my "old" self. I transferred to HCA my junior year, and things started looking up. I made some friends and started to come around. However, I could not believe that I was not worthless and insignificant, as all at MP had told me.

Since I have left there, I have been diagnosed as bi-polar. This diagnosis only came after attempting suicide. With the help of some very good friends, I once again started the climb back up the self-esteem ladder. It has not been easy, and many of these memories I would have liked to have forgotten completely, but for the sake of other girls going through what I went through, I must tell my story. Now I am married, with a wonderful husband who loves and supports me, a beautiful baby boy, and a wonderful relationship with my mom which has become my lifeline. I am on meds now, to help balance my moods and control the depression. It helps, but it's still hard. For a long time, I blocked MP. I didn't want to remember the hell. Now, as the can of worms is opened around them, I realize that the person I was before, as far as my self confidence went; well, that person will return some day. For the rest of me, that's gone. I can't get my innocence back. I can't erase the permanent marks made both on my body and on my soul from this hell, but I can sure try to stop them from hurting someone else. I'm sorry if this is long-winded, but I wrote what I felt I needed to be said. My love and prayers go to all the other survivors out there. Let's stick together to end the hell we all lived.

Rebecca XXXX
student from 95-97

After the closure of this boarding school in 2004, the employees took jobs in similar schools all over Missouri working just the same as they did at Mountain Park.

Sources:

2 comments:

  1. I've read your story a few times cause it brings back the memories. I left about the year you got there I was friends with Anthony Rutherford but left months before the murder of Andrew. I don't mind taking what good times I had in Missouri. I hated the place and fully agree with you on how the place was. I didn't allow it to get to me if anything it made me stronger mentally however I was on the boys side which was a whole different ball of wax then the girls side.they had it much worse with the way the female guides were allowed to treat there students. I did enjoy living in the country and up in the ozarks though I wish just differently. I won't ramble but I do like your story I'm glad your doing better. I am now 38 and married and managed to move on from the place in my thoughts. I did a lot of bad things there ran away and what not those were the fun things I remember in fact me and two other guys stole one of there canoes and went down the st Francis river when we ran away unfortunately one of the guys I was with called his dad and told him where we were at and that's how we got caught. I received my ten swats a day for ten days for that the pain has gone and since I will always remember my adventure. I even look at the Missouri state quarter has 3 guys in canoe and even though it's Lewis and Clark I like to think it's me (Bill Molle, Port Schaffer, and Brian Bertrand) I believe I have those names names correct.

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