Why Blame The Pearls At All? – Part 2

Yesterday I looked at the question of what the Pearls’ teachings had to do with the death of Lydia Schatz. Today I will look at the deaths of Sean Paddock and Hana Williams.  Lydia died as a direct result of her parents  following the Pearls’ teachings, but that was not the case with Sean and Hana.

So, how does the death of Hana Williams relate to the Pearls’ teachings? It has been confirmed that her parents were following the Pearls’ teachings by someone who has emailed me anonymously. I have also seen a quote from an email list which then got posted (without permission as far as I can tell) on a message board. I then saw it in the comments here and here.  This person confirmed that the family were following the Pearls’ teachings as well.  S/he also gave some clues that I find interesting.

The Pearls do not teach that parents should leave their children outside all night.  The only real problem is that they teach that parents must always win, as I explained yesterday.  Of course, the Williams were way out of line in making Hana sleep outside without so much as a sleeping bag.  Why would they do that?  I can only speculate.  It is commonly reported that Hana had suffered a significant weight loss (I read 30 pounds somewhere).  The comments mention that she was refusing to eat and then stealing food.  That is a very odd accusation.  If you want your child to eat, why would they have to steal food from you?  How could they steal food from their own parents?  Isn’t all the food everyone’s?

Here is a quote from Michael Pearl’s Article, The Angry Child:

If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it.

Now, I can only speculate, I have no proof that is what they were doing. She could have had Anorexia or some other eating issue due to RAD which caused her to refuse to eat. (Edited to clarify: when I wrote this it was speculations before the trial. Now that the trial is over, I can clearly state that there is absolutely NO reason to suspect any kind of eating disorder or RAD whatsoever.)

But, IF they were withholding food to make her eat what they wanted her to and she was stealing food in the night, they would probably end up locking up the food.  If she were somehow managing to get it anyway, and IF it were true that she was peeing on the rug, it might make sense for someone who has been pushed over the edge to make her stay outside.

Another interesting and possibly pertinent quote is found on the No Greater Joy website and is from the article, Rodless Training

“There will be times when a spanking is appropriate. But you are prevented! Then use your power as the caretaker and dispenser of all privileges and responsibilities to make his actions totally counterproductive. If you can’t spank the flesh, starve it with an embargo. Stand your ground and do not let the little fellow find satisfaction in his pursuits. Stay on duty, demanding obedience until he surrenders his will to your persistence. If there is a way to deny him access to some means of indulgence that relates to the offense, then by all means as governor of the island on which he lives deny him normal privileges until he complies.”

So, this is what I’m seeing.  A family who was in way over their head, dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and trying to make the Pearls’ teachings work in a situation for which they were not designed.  My thoughts are that they lost control of reality.  They needed help and did not seek it.  It’s a real tragedy.  They probably didn’t think that it was cold enough outside to kill her.  But with her body weakened by lack of food, she succumbed. (Edited to add now that the trial is over: there is no reason to suspect RAD whatsoever.)

I do not know much about the death of Sean Paddock. All I know is that he was wrapped tightly in order to keep him in his bed and he suffocated. Again, the Pearls do not teach parents to do that. His mother might have been trying so hard to win that she did not consider the consequences of her actions, but I can’t really blame the Pearls’ teachings directly for his death.

So far, all 3 cases of children dying at the hands of followers of the Pearls’ methods have been adopted.  It is apparent that these teachings are particularly dangerous when applied on adopted children.   It is very important that the organizations which oversee adoptions are made aware of this connection.

Update: April 6, 2012

I have recently learned of the teachings of Nancy Campbell of, Above Rubies, regarding using international  adoptions as a way to “rescue” the heathen children and “evangelize” them.  I learned this in a public thread on  Gentle Christian Mothers (starting with post 9).  Of course, I can’t know for sure, but IF the Williams were influenced by this mindset, it would explain a lot.

Update: Sept 9, 2013

I have learned during the trial that everything was fine with Hana until about a year after the adoption when she went through puberty.  Apparently she got a drop of blood on the toilet seat according to some, yet Carri claims that she was smearing her pad on the walls.  At that time, they started describing her as “opositional” and “rebellious.” It would appear that Carri got unreasonably strict and/or she started standing up for herself. That was when things started going very bad. Witnesses claim that Carri said that she was expecting a little girl and they sent her a woman. Carri has also been described as a germophobe and Hana was a carrier of Hepatitis B which obviously scared Carri.

Please see my follow up post on the Williams Trial here.


  1. dmdezigns on September 8, 2013 at 2:45 am

    I think you should update this post. There is no evidence that Hana suffered from RAD. I realize you were speculating early on but someone not knowing that might misunderstand this post. You acknowledge in the comments that you no longer suspect RAD, but you haven’t added any clarification to the beginning of this post. That concerns me. I really have enjoyed most of your writing on this but I think this is an oversight.

  2. […] ties in with what I suspected from the moment I found out that they were following Pearl’s teachings.  My only quibble is […]

  3. […] off the deep end.  I could be wrong, but this is how it looks to me.  I thought that back  on Sept 6 and the more I learn, the more it looks that way. For your sharing […]

  4. TulipGirl on October 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I agree that especially in families with adopted children, great care must be taken. . .

    And yet, with the legal documents related to Hana Grace now available, I think the connection to the Pearls is MUCH more than speculation. The underlying philosophy and antagonistic attitude (all tying-heartstrings words notwithstanding) is present in the death of Hana Grace — as well as the suggestions to withhold food, cold showers for messes, and complete control.

    At the very, very least the Williams needed to seek support from other adoptive families and more realistically seek help for the general bumps and challenges along the way. And, quite frankly, had they not been influenced so greatly by the isolationist message propagated by the Pearls, they may have before this got to the point of abuse and death.

    Disrupted adoptions are difficult. . . heartbreaking. . . but sometimes are a wise choice. I wish some of the people who had a glimpse of what was going on in this home had suggested it (or pushed it, or contacted adoption advocates. . .)

    But the issues that may be related to adoption, imo, do NOT excuse the Pearls and their influence on this family and the resultant death.

    • Hermana Linda on October 3, 2011 at 11:37 am

      I agree. Of course, I wrote this way before that document came out. You explain it very well on your blog. However, my concern is that they twisted the Pearls teachings into something far more horrible. It’s like when someone takes the advice to co-sleep and smothers the baby in a drunken stupor. Many want to blame the co-sleeping advice but that makes no sense. That is why I can’t really blame the Pearls advice for Hana’s death. I agree that the Pearls’ advice is dangerous, especially in the case of adopted children. I agree that the Pearls’ advice is abusive. But I can’t really say that these parents killed their child by following the Pearls’ teachings. I can say it in the case of Lydia Schatz, but not this one. Although, the underlying need to break the will and control is certainly a huge factor in the death. I’m still thinking and praying about this. Thank you for your prospective. <3

      • Hermana Linda on November 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

        I totally agree that Hana had no blame at all. When I wrote this post I was speculating with very little information and all of it was alleged. The Sheriff’s report hadn’t been released yet. My conclusion was and remains that the Pearls were only a catalyst and that they were not directly at fault.

  5. […] Any link between this death and the Pearls’ Teachings is purely speculation and is covered in this post.  To reiterate and clarify, the Pearls’ teachings do not appear to be directly responsible […]

  6. Foster Mom on September 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I think you need to be REALLY careful here. Many adopted children have a variety of issues, including RAD and FASD. I know plenty of loving, committed and GENTLE foster/adoptive parents whose children engage in a range of self-destructive and self-mutilating behaviors that make little sense to the outside world. Including refusing to eat & then stealing food (it’s possible the parents were locking up junk food for an anorexic/bulimic child in an attempt to “catch” purging).

    I agree the Pearls’ teachings need to be exposed and decried for the Spiritual & physical abuse they are – but to “pin” the Pearl label on this family with no real evidence (the news is hardly credible, anonymous e-mails are practically worthless).

    The retraction never carries the weight of the accusation. Families are destroyed by swirls of speculation – we need to pray for discernment and for the truth to be revealed.

    • Hermana Linda on September 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Thank you for that perspective. I agree with you. RAD and FASD alone could certainly have caused the behavior in question. I have heard from many acquaintances of the Williams that they were Pearl Followers. The town is small and the one who emailed me does not wish to be named.

  7. Libby Anne on September 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve already shared that my parents starved one of my brothers because he wouldn’t say please for his food. Quoting the Pearls, they said that a child would never starve himself to death. They were wrong. My brother lived, but only because my mother dreamed that he died and then relented and fed him. I have to wonder if natural parents have a control mechanism that adoptive parents may not always have. My mother stopped herself. Her maternal instincts prevented her from following the Pearls’ teachings in the end. Perhaps an adoptive parent wouldn’t have stopped. Who knows, just some speculation and thoughts!

    • Christie on October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Ouch Libby. I can assure you that that is not true. I am a mom to 8 children. 4 are adopted. We have an open refrigerator around here day and night. I love my children, each and every one of them the same. There is no difference in my heart between bio or adopted. Our youngest daughter has been home 7 months and is 11 years old. She was disrupted twice and said to be RAD.
      We are doing well over here. She has since gained almost 10 lbs and 2 and a half inches since coming home.

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