Mila Petrovic: From Mommie Dearest to Murderer

Faye Dunaway portrayed actress Joan Crawford in the film 'Mommie Dearest', which told of Crawford's abuse of her adopted daughter.  'No Wire Hangers, EVER!' became a popular saying from the film.

I think I think too much. Unfortunately, it's sometimes about stuff that's none of my business ;-) ... But the child abuse tragedy of a young Chicago area mother, Mila Petrovic, killing her 5-year-old daughter last week keeps popping into my thoughts. Which is why this headline from today's Chicago Tribune stunned me: "There are secrets in the house. We don't tell."

Apparently some of Petrovic's other children suggested to the authorities that their mother -- and possibly father, too -- allowed them to join in the beating(s) of little Melanie. She died shortly after her mother rammed her head into a wall for vomitting into a towel. On the same day her mother, Mila Petrovic, gave birth to a seventh child.

Now, I don't want to play "blame the victim" here. (E.g., How criminals rationalize rape cases, saying the victim dressed or flirted too suggestively, so she was asking for "it.") But why did everyone in the Petrovic home seem hellbent on kicking the ish out of this 5-year-old? Was there something about Melanie's personality or behavior that figured in her demise? (For example, severe emotional or mental issues.)

"Everyone hit Melanie because she touched our things," one of the siblings told a state worker. This may suggest a disturbing inability to understand borders. I have a relative who might be similarly described, and it can present a real problem. Just about anything that's yours -- your lipstick, your jewelry, your money, your boyfriend -- may mysteriously turn up in her possession. That's angering enough, but her way of dismissing your upset about it, as if you're nuts for making a big deal, is what can make you really want to hurt her. Clearly, emotions must be controlled.

On the other hand, it is possible that Melanie was fairly "normal," but was notoriously and undeservedly picked on.

I know it's not our business... But if you catch a glimmer of something awry with the treatment of a child in your circle, what would you say or do?


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Anonymous said...

This story reminds me of the life story of David Pelzer entitled "A Boy Called It" he writes in this ghastly, fascinating memoir, a devoted den mother to the Cub Scouts in her care, and somewhat nurturant to her children--but not to David, whom she referred to as "an It." The book is a horrifying account of the bizarre tortures she inflicted on him, told from the point of view of the author as a young boy being starved, stabbed, smashed face-first into mirrors, forced to eat the contents of his sibling's diapers and a spoonful of ammonia, and burned over a gas stove by a maniacal, alcoholic mom. It was pure sadism. Inexplicably, his father didn't protect him; only an alert schoolteacher saved David. No one saved this poor 5 year old and she was not able to survive the abuse and maybe she is better off as she is in a better place. Why can't we protect the children?

Anonymous said...

A neighbor was interviewed and told the media she didn't know that kids lived in the condo. Can someone tell me how 7 kids live in a condo, apartment, house, or farm and the neighbors don't know? There was something terribly wrong there.

kweenkong said...

Excellent comments @ Anonymous. Since the kid says "they don't tell" the secrets of the house -- but did admit to the free-for-all, gang beating of the 5-year-old along with their parents -- you have to wonder what they're NOT telling. Scary.

Levois said...

I wonder what was wrong. What possesses a parent to go after a child but their other children? Why didn't daddy protect his child? Why single poor Melanie out?

I would like to know the answer to that question. Hopefully as this case unfolds we will.

kweenkong said...

Hey Levois, same here. This case, like many others, is an interesting study in human reaction. Who knows what could have triggered such sad circumstances. Could be anything.

As we learn more about how this family got here, let it be a lesson to all the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I cannot for the life of me imagine hitting my child even once in that manner. After reading this story, I just want to hold my 3 year old every minute and tell her I love her I love her I love her. How hard is it to love a child? How can you be in a home with 6 kids and single one out for abuse and allow the other kids to do the same? I just cry and cry for this poor little girl, and wish and pray that people are more vigilant and aware of keeping an eye out for kids they know to watch for any signs of abuse/trouble at home.

kweenkong said...

Anony, you have captured the sentiments very well. I think of how trapped in hell this little baby had to have felt. Just too young to have to feel so much pain, and certainly not be able understand or effectively fight it.

I really wonder if this child had special challenges of some sort, and whatever behavior led the family to handle it so poorly.

Seems like a streak of real hatred ran unchecked in this family, and down through the generations.

stella said...

Thats my mothers relative,Mila petrovic. And i hate her. /7Stella from SWEDEN


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