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  1. #1
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    Dec 2004
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    FL - The second life of Larry Swartz: Friends remember murderer

    The second life of Larry Swartz: Florida friends remember murderer as 'God's gift to life'

    He lived on a narrow street with ranchers and carports, where trucks park on the lawns and working-class people scrape by.

    There is a lake across the street where on a good day the kids can catch catfish or bass. Neighbors often gather for a cigarette and a beer, talking long into the night about their kids and their problems with work.

    It could be anywhere in middle America, but this is outside Orlando, Fla., the home of Disney World. Life here is anything but a fantasy of animal characters and amusement rides.

    It was the last of many homes for Larry Swartz, who at age 38 had found the happiness that eluded him most of his short life.

    Larry died near his Florida home on Dec. 29, nearly 21 years after murdering his adoptive Cape St. Claire parents. His crime, which later became the subject of a book and made-for-television movie, is one of the most remembered in county history.[size=1]
    Last edited by chicoliving; 03-11-2009 at 01:17 AM. Reason: This post needs a link; copy/paste a paragraph or two ONLY and include the link to comply with copyright.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2003
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    Sounds like Larry did find some happiness before he died. For that, he was truly blessed.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2005
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    I just finished reading a book about Larry and I was moved to tears when I read that he had died. I always felt that more went on in his house than he let on and I am so happy to hear that he was able to find peace and happiness and love before his untimely death.

  4. #4
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    May 2005
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    Nanandjim and Teonspaleprincess, thank you for your kind words.
    Nanandjim : Larry did find happyness...and more than that, he
    gave happyness.
    Teonspaleprincess : Larry's life speaks as a Greek tragidy,
    or a parable. There is another book in the works. I work
    full time as an RN, so the work of the book is slower than
    I would like.
    Larry's wife,
    Christy

  5. #5
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    Jul 2004
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    cusilton
    I am going to be very honest with you. When I first started reading this post, I wasn't real impressed. I often look at reformed murderers with some suspicion. The same thing when I hear grieving family members talk about how good the person was. I fully expected to hear that he met some violent end.
    But after reading more about the challenges he faced as a child, his history, his punishment, and then the grace with which he ended up living, I was crying. I believe he had truly- I hate to say reformed, but maybe grown into the loving person he was.
    Please write the book, and let us know when it is published? And thank you for reminding me that there is truly hope that people can change.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  6. #6
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    Nov 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by cusilton
    Nanandjim and Teonspaleprincess, thank you for your kind words.
    Nanandjim : Larry did find happyness...and more than that, he
    gave happyness.
    Teonspaleprincess : Larry's life speaks as a Greek tragidy,
    or a parable. There is another book in the works. I work
    full time as an RN, so the work of the book is slower than
    I would like.
    Larry's wife,
    Christy
    I'm sorry for your loss.

  7. #7
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    May 2005
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    It's not that Larry was a bad person who reformed and became a good person.
    Good and bad is a spectrum in all of us, I think. If given the the right (or wrong)
    circumstances we're all capable of bad actions and good actions. You know the old phrase, "if not for the grace of God, there go I". Not everyone who is homeless, rejected and lonely since birth commit such an unspeakable act, but as this site tells...the statistics arn't good. I believe all of us have limits that can be reached that can render us to cross the line of self control. Being a murderer was never the essence of Larry's being. Getting to know the people from his past (from childood through his imprisonment), I've learned that he always had a good heart. He took the weak, powerless, lost ones under his wing. He watched over them and showed them acceptance. Even animals!
    I have a house full of stray rescued animals that Larry brought home. He seemed to want to give what he never recieved.
    A story was told to the world in the form of his life.
    Thanks for your interest and for seeing the person with a more generous hearted vision.
    Christy

  8. #8
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    Jun 2006
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    2

    To Christy

    Christy,
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I had read the original book years ago and at the time it scared the hell out of me. The reason being is that I'm an adoptive mother, and when reading the book in the early 1990s I realized that my adoptive son had similar behaviors as Larry did when younger. The impulse control probs, tantrums, rages, etc., were all too familiar. Crazy as it seems, I wondered if one day my son might do the same to us. Fast forward, my son is about to turn 17. We have experienced a host of behavior problems with him and up until 2 years ago had no idea why he had all the troubles. At one point we had our son arrested for domestic violence - on us. We had our son in counseling a couple of years ago and after learning about our son's behavior probs, the counselor asked if our son's birthmother drank alcohol while pregnant. The answer was yes. It turns out our son has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which is to blame for brain damage leading to behavior problems, learning problems, and exposure to alcohol in utero can cause organ defects as well.

    The reason I'm telling you this is because from what I've read about Larry's origins (bio parents being pimp and teenager in New Orleans) it's likely substance abuse was involved during the pregnancy. FASD children are more likely to be abused, as parents (who don't understand what they're dealing with) get frustrated because these effected children do not learn from consequences and can be very difficult to deal with. FASD people find it much more difficult to control their anger, and difficult to stop themselves from committing serious crimes . After our son's latest run in with the police, a detective told me that about 80% of the juvenile repeat offenders in the system are Fetal Alcohol Effected. Also, statistics show that there is a much higher incidence of Fetal Alcohol exposure in Adopted children as opposed to non-adopted children.

    Also with FASD there is no cure, and many struggle through life, but sometimes they will just "grow up" late (if they haven't gotten too deep into the justice system). This possibly could explain how Larry changed his life later on down the line. Because FASD can cause organ damage, I would also have to wonder if that is what could have caused Larry's death at such a young age.

    Here is a link to info about FASD: http://www.come-over.to/FAS/brochures/WhatIsFASD.pdf

    Was Larry ever able to find out anything more about his bio-parents? Do you know if his bio mom drank alcohol while pregnant? Do you know if his biological mother is still alive?
    I hope you don't mind my insights and questions,
    Karen

  9. #9
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    Jun 2006
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    2

    one other footnote

    I'm also certain that Michael is a fetal alcohol victim that I would bet my life on it, he had/has all the behavioral manifestations. Back when Larry & Michael were adopted, people weren't aware of the problems of fetal alcohol babies. Being a parent who is raising one of these children, I can say the Swartz's did not stand a chance, the parents or the children.

    As an adoptive parent, you go into adoption loving your children and feeling that you are going to give them the best life possible, but also determined to do whatever is necessary to help these kids grow up to be properly educated and self sufficient. With a fetal alcohol child, those ideals quickly blow up in your face. They have behavioral problems that seem minor through grade school, many are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. They're disorganized, have difficulty with dates and time, and sometimes get suspended from the bus for fighting or being disruptive. Then, their grades begin to slide in Jr. high and keep going downhill in High School. They typically just stop doing their schoolwork and fail most if not all their classes, at that point, they are only interested in socializing in HS, not academics. Many drop out of high school. If they are not "allowed" to drop out, they will run away from home.

    They are defiant to an extreme where if they are told they cannot go somewhere or do something they want, they will sneak out. I know "normal" kids may sometimes do this, but the difference is, a fetal alcohol teen can get caught after sneaking out and not be the least bit remorseful for what they did, but angry at the parent for giving them consequences. If grounded for their behavior, they will sneak out while they are grounded. They live like they have nothing to lose and are angry at anyone who tries to stop them. Most "normal" teens have some direction and a means to get to a future they have chosen for themselves, while fetal alcohol teens don't plan, can't seem to get organized, and appear to have no motivation, they just let things happen. They are usually compulsive liars, they will fantasize, and relay it to you as though it was the God's honest truth, frighteningly they tend to believe their own lies.

    They are prone to fits of rage and can be a physical threat to those closest to them. Fetal Alcohol victims find it difficult if not impossible to control their impulses, for that reason, they can get into trouble for improper sexual conduct, theft, compulsive lying (for no reason), and as you can imagine, other problems that would crop up without any impulse control. Many Fetal Alcohol Effected babies end up in the prison system in their adult lives.

    A detective from our town told me that 80-90% of juvenile repeat offenders in our town (small town) are Fetal Alcohol Victims.
    Basically it boils down to Alcohol damaging a child's brain and thought processing ability before they are born, and it has recently been found that there is NO SAFE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION WHILE PREGNANT.

    While Bob & Kay did seem somewhat extreme because of their religious beliefs, how they transformed over time when raising the kids was typical of parents dealing with behaviorally difficult child/children. You try what should normally work to set the child on the right track, the child defies you and does what he wants anyways, and you get tougher and tougher on them to try to correct their behavior, but it is futile and explosive. The parents feel it is gradually becoming a crisis, as the child's behavior and grades continue to slide downward. It's no easier on child victims of Fetal Alcohol abuse, as they cannot help their behavior..

  10. #10
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    Dec 2005
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    So sad, this story made me cry, and I am usually pretty tough.


  11. #11
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    May 2004
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    11,080
    Quote Originally Posted by cusilton
    It's not that Larry was a bad person who reformed and became a good person.
    Good and bad is a spectrum in all of us, I think. If given the the right (or wrong)
    circumstances we're all capable of bad actions and good actions. You know the old phrase, "if not for the grace of God, there go I". Not everyone who is homeless, rejected and lonely since birth commit such an unspeakable act, but as this site tells...the statistics arn't good. I believe all of us have limits that can be reached that can render us to cross the line of self control. Being a murderer was never the essence of Larry's being. Getting to know the people from his past (from childood through his imprisonment), I've learned that he always had a good heart. He took the weak, powerless, lost ones under his wing. He watched over them and showed them acceptance. Even animals!
    I have a house full of stray rescued animals that Larry brought home. He seemed to want to give what he never recieved.
    A story was told to the world in the form of his life.
    Thanks for your interest and for seeing the person with a more generous hearted vision.
    Christy


    Until I worked with troubled teens I had no idea that adoptive parents could desolve an adoption. I saw it happen twice and I saw the affect it had on the teens. I realize that some children are a handful but I believe that when you adopt a child that child is yours the same as if you gave birth to it.

    For me it is easy to understand the fear that Larry must have felt when his adoptive parents rejected the one son. The fear of rejection must have been horrible. What a sad story but what a beautiful last few years Larry lived.
    We will never understand why some things happen. Larry was really just beginning his life. He gave so much and had so much more to give. He sounds like a wonderful person and I'm so glad he had found so much love. Still makes me ask "why." Why do the good die so young and the evil live long lives creating pain and sorrow for so many? It just isn't fair but then so much in life isn't fair.

    Could you give me the name of the book written about Larry? I would love to read it. I saw a made for TV movie not long ago that is almost idential to Larry's story but the adoptive parents adopted 3 boys. The story ended with the middle boy being found out about the murder of the parents who had kicked the older boy out and the middle boy feared he would be next because the parents were so strict with him. It's Larrys story to a T.

    I'm so glad that you and Larry met and that you gave each other so much happiness. I just wish it had lasted about 50 years longer.

  12. #12
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    Sep 2006
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    1
    Hi Christy! I went to high school with Larry (he was a year older than I). I just recently learned of his passing ... I'm so sorry! I remember Larry being the very good looking, well liked, high school soccer star who was part of the popular "in" crowd.

    I had one class with Larry ... Larry never knew my name (I was one of those painfully shy girls who sat in the back of class), but he was always so nice whenever he spoke to me (I guess what I mean is: even though he was part of the "in" crowd, he never acted like a snob and I never saw him belittle anyone).

    When the incident happened, everyone refused to believe that Larry would have done it ... afterwards there were rumors and stories that circulated around school about how bad things really were in his home. I guess no one can really know how they will react if / when they reach their breaking point. It was a very sad time for alot of us.

    While I was in college I dated a fellow that knew Michael and the family that took in Anne and I had the good fortune of meeting them all.

    Although Larry is no longer with us, I am very happy to hear that he was able to find happiness with you and had the good fortune of touching alot of lives.

    God bless.

  13. #13
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    Jun 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by cusilton
    It's not that Larry was a bad person who reformed and became a good person.
    Good and bad is a spectrum in all of us, I think. If given the the right (or wrong)
    circumstances we're all capable of bad actions and good actions. You know the old phrase, "if not for the grace of God, there go I". Not everyone who is homeless, rejected and lonely since birth commit such an unspeakable act, but as this site tells...the statistics arn't good. I believe all of us have limits that can be reached that can render us to cross the line of self control. Being a murderer was never the essence of Larry's being. Getting to know the people from his past (from childood through his imprisonment), I've learned that he always had a good heart. He took the weak, powerless, lost ones under his wing. He watched over them and showed them acceptance. Even animals!
    I have a house full of stray rescued animals that Larry brought home. He seemed to want to give what he never recieved.
    A story was told to the world in the form of his life.
    Thanks for your interest and for seeing the person with a more generous hearted vision.
    Christy
    Excellent post! Peace be with you, Christy.
    I do not intend to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death!

  14. #14
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    May 2006
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    3,375
    I remember this case!--I read the true crimebook on it many years ago--wow--an incredible final chapter has been written here---Although the murders were brutal,I always felt some sympathy for the kid because his adopted parents were brutal to him and his brother---His brother was beaten mercilessly by the adopted father---those two kids didn't have much of a chance in life---but I didn't realize that Larry only spent a few years in prison--he was lucky in that sense---still,its shocking when someone that young dies of a heart attack---Thanks for posting this account of a troubled life

  15. #15
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    May 2005
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    6
    Hi Valkyrie024,
    I sent a private message, but I don't seem to have much luck getting them through. Please check and see if the message came through in your private message box.
    Thanks you so much for sharing your memories of Larry. It means so very much to me.
    Christy

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