Unravelled – 2nd July 2014
Vikie Shanks with Lynne Barrett-Lee
“September 15th 2007 is a date that will stay with me always. For it’s the day that Paul, my late husband and father to my seven children, decided he’d had enough of the life he had created for us all, and took himself off to the woods on the edge of our property, and fatally slashed his neck and arms.”
When Vikie Shanks met Paul, he seemed to be everything a girl could ever want. Handsome, attentive, caring and musically gifted, he felt like the antidote to all the bad things that had happened in her life. Vikie had had a deeply unhappy childhood, and it had scarred her. Sexually abused by her eldest brother and dominated by a violent father, her childhood ended with the death of her mother when she was just sixteen.
Unravelled is the story of Vikie’s life with Paul. Of the years in which his behaviour and mental state became ever more erratic. Of his casual cruelty, his spying, his inexplicable and sudden rages. Of his growing obsession with having more and more children, and of naming them according to a precise set of rules. How, over a period of years, he all but gutted their family home, tearing down most of the internal walls and removing almost everything but basic furniture, while simultaneously creating a secret home for himself, made out of plywood, in what used to be a shed. Of his secret diaries – the tens of thousands of entries he made, documenting every minute of every day. After his death, it would be these writings that would provide such compelling evidence of what further tragedy might have happened had he not made the decision that he did that fateful morning. Because whatever was wrong with him was like a ticking bomb that even Vikie hadn’t properly heard; it seemed he’d spent time planning to kill the whole family.