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October 29, 2003 12:00 am
By Randi Rice
Photo by Roger Werth
Mary Ann and Peter Mabey, parents of Ginger Pratt, reflect on their daughter’s conviction for murdering her 5-year-old daughter, Mariah, last November.
Even though it took a family tragedy, Mary Ann and Peter Mabey say they were relieved when their daughter, Ginger Mabey Pratt, 27, was sent to prison Oct. 9 for murdering her 5-year-old daughter, Mariah, last November.
For years, the Lexington couple had agonized over Ginger’s mental illness and feared she would take her life, though they never believed she would harm her daughter.
‘We know where Ginger is and that she is being taken care of,” Mary Ann Mabey said in an interview at her home recently.
Pratt was convicted of second-degree murder for smothering Mariah in a Beacon Hill apartment and received a 18-year sentence. At the time of her arrest, Pratt told investigators that she didn’t want Mariah to live “through this anymore” and wanted her to “go to a better place; i.e. Heaven.”
Pratt is in the medical ward at Washington Women’s Correctional facility at Purdy, where she is being treated for mental illness. She remains on suicide watch, her mother said. She’s expected to remain in the medical ward for a year before she is moved to the general prison population.
“How did I get here?” a sobbing Ginger asked her mother by phone Monday morning, her mother said.
“She is grieving,” Mary Ann Mabey said, but there is “not much to say.”
One of the Mabeys’ four children, Ginger was a little girl who always “wanted to do the right thing. (She was) so sensitive,” her mother said.
However, according to her parents, she was sexually abused by someone outside the family when she was about 6 years old. Too frightened to tell anyone, Ginger kept the experience a secret until she was an adult and had developed mental health problems, her mother said.
The Mabeys noticed Ginger’s problems as early as 12 years old. She isolated herself from others, and school overwhelmed her. She had an adolescent’s usual lack of self esteem, but Ginger’s self-doubt only increased with age. She continued fighting voices in her head that repeatedly told her how bad she was, according to her mother.
Specialists told the Mabeys that their daughter suffered from major depression, borderline personality disorder and psychosis.
People with borderline personality disorder have intense anger and temper tantrums and often end up in fights, said Dr. Suzanne Murray, assistant training director and psychiatric care doctor at the University of Washington. They have sharp mood swings and are suicidal.
There’s no cure, but certain types of behavioral therapy aimed at coping with stress and anger makes patients less dangerous to themselves, Murray said. Medication is not as effective, she said.
Sex abuse can be a catalyst for the borderline personality disorder, Murray said.
Pete Mabey, a chemist for Weyerhaeuser Co. in Longview, said he’s not surprised his daughter had problems with self esteem. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which he feels was brought on by his Marine service in Vietnam.
However, he said, his college and military background gave him tools to cope.
As for Ginger, “All she had was her kindness.”
Despite her problems, Ginger briefly held down jobs. Her mom said she was assistant manager of an apartment complex in Vancouver, and in her early 20s she moved to Utah for the sunny climate. She underwent treatment for her mental illness, but she nearly killed herself by taking a drug overdose, her mother said.
Mary Ann Mabey remembers her daughter describing her mental anguish.
“I’ve spent many nights with her, crying and sobbing (and asking) ‘Why can’t I just be normal,’ ” said Mary Ann Mabey,
Other than share her daughter’s pain, all Mary Ann Mabey could do was “reach out and be loving and kind.”
She said Ginger often became discouraged with her illness. She tried different medications, but they didn’t quell the self-critical voices that ran like a tape recorder over and over in her head.
Getting steady treatment for mental illness isn’t always a matter the family can control, the Mabeys said. A family member may end up in the emergency room and then psychiatric ward for a time if they willingly commit themselves. But committing an adult against their will is difficult, Mabey said.
At the end, Ginger told her mother that she was being taken over inside. That scared the family, but they didn’t know what to do other than care for Mariah at times and just be on alert, although psychologists say the majority of people who suffer from borderline personality disorder don’t kill.
Mariah often stayed with her grandparents, especially when Ginger experienced difficulties or changed medication. Mariah would call her grandparents when her mother felt sick, was edgy or cried. The little red-headed girl, whose nickname was Buttercup, kept her grandparents’ phone number inside her shoe. The grandparents kept her for weeks, took her to school and knew every routine.
Mariah “was a kind, brilliant soul, just like her mom,” the Mabeys said.
Despite Ginger’s instabilities, the Mabeys never suspected she would kill Mariah, who loved her mom intensely.
However, it was Ginger who phoned her mother that November morning saying “I’ve done something bad.”
Sitting at their kitchen table last week, surrounded by family photos, occasionally holding hands and fighting back tears, the Mabeys talked about coping with the loss of Mariah and Ginger. They seek comfort from one another and their Mormon faith. They’re not mad at Ginger, who they expect to see in prison today for their first post-sentencing visit.
They’re beyond looking for explanations and believe they did everything they could to help her daughter.
Mental illness, the Mabeys say, isn’t something families choose. “It just happens.”
Original article no longer available
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nov 22. 2002
LONGVIEW – Cowlitz County authorities have ruled the death of a 5-year-old girl a homicide, and her mother is being detained for investigation of first-degree murder.
The body of Mariah Jewell Edwards was found early Wednesday at her home here.
An autopsy was conducted Wednesday evening on the body of the girl, who would have turned 6 on Dec. 3. Cause of death was not immediately determined, Coroner Mike Nichols said.
The girl’s mother, Ginger Mabey Pratt, 26, was transported to St. John Medical Center for treatment of an apparent overdose of prescription drugs.
The Cowlitz County sheriff’s office said Pratt was being held for investigation of first-degree murder.
Deputies said they were advised of an apparent murder-attempted suicide at 8:20 a.m. by Pratt’s mother, Mary Ann Mabey.
The older woman said she had “received a phone call from her daughter saying that she had done something really bad.”
After she sped to the apartment in Longview’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, Mabey said she found her granddaughter not breathing and her daughter nonresponsive, deputies said.
There were empty pill bottles nearby, Mabey told authorities.
Mariah’s body had no sign of trauma, according to the sheriff’s office.
Her daughter was on antidepressant medication and getting professional treatment, Mabey told The Daily News of Longview.
The girl’s father lives in Portland.
Mabey described her granddaughter as “just like an angel — very soft and very loving.
“She loved playing with other children. She was just a social butterfly.”
The child was a student at Beacon Hill Elementary School.