A Mother and a Monster
Updated: Jan 4, 2019
The "behind the scenes" of Karina Clark
"During "The Feast At His Table" photo shoot by Holly Hess Ricks there were so many things happening at once that it was difficult to stay on top of everything. As I have been editing the footage for the documentary, there was one person that kept showing up just as help was needed and then disappearing back into the crowd when needed. There are dozens yet to thank for their part in this life-changing photo shoot, but Karina Clark, thank you for seeing what was needed and getting it done so quietly and graciously... We may not have noticed it on the day, but thankfully, the camera caught it all!!"
I posted this on Karina's Facebook page on September 19th, 2017
Two months later Karina would shoot her nine year old daughter and then herself in one of the most heart breaking murder-suicides in the US.
“In a movie about redemption how can we include the story of a woman who is clearly unredeemable?"
It was New Year's Night 2018 and I was posting a casting call on Facebook. My news feed began to fill up with several of my friends posting bereavement statements for a friend of theirs. Then I received a notification from CBS of a murder-suicide in Magna, Utah. That's about 20 minutes from where Julia and I live. I wondered if it was anyone we knew.
My interest was peaked so I looked further into it. I clicked one of the many news report links now populating my page. A picture of Karina flashed across my screen...I was stunned. This was "our" Karina.
“I first thought that she must have been involved in a nightmare relationship with a psychopath boyfriend and he had taken her life and then ended his. I literally went into shock when I read that it was Karina who wielded the rifle."
“She's going straight to hell for what she did."
This was the first public comment left on the news report I read. Utah is an incredibly conservative and religious state. I grew up in a religious environment where I was taught that those who murder or take their own life will suffer forever for their sins. I was taught that their was no redemption for them.
And why should there be redemption for Karina? She MURDERED an innocent child! She deserved to die!
I needed to answer this question somehow. I needed to reconcile the angel mother that I knew with the murderous monster that I read about in the news.
My investigation lead us to Sheila Baird, the woman who found Madison and Karina's decomposed bodies. I also spoke to one of the First Responders at the crime scene.
And then Blue and I flew to Oklahoma to speak with Karina's oldest daughter, Bailey Miller. It was then that my understanding was turned upside down.
“ This very young girl with a very old soul lost her father to suicide and her mother and sister in a murder/suicide. We are stunned by her story and moved by her strength to keep moving forward and awed by her light. But it is her heart that humbles us most. We are honored to share Bailey Miller’s story of the complicated, violent and abusive life growing up with her mother, Karina Clark. How Bailey has chosen to resolve her 21 years of life will change you... "
Although Karina was only a very small and silent part of Holly's original photo shoot, her hidden story of addiction and mental illness looms as one of the most clear and plain examples of the power of shame...and through her daughter Bailey, a humbling story of forgiveness.
"A Seat For Everyone"