In 2005, Melissa spoke to her father when she tried to bring her family to visit him in prison. "I wanted [my father] to meet my husband. I wanted him to meet his grandkids," she says. "I went to the prison with my kids thinking that it would be safe. I saw that they had a child center there, and I thought it would be okay. My little girl starting clinging to my leg, and she was so scared. I felt regret that I was taking my kids to a prison to see my father—who I was just thinking of as my father, not a serial killer."
Dr. Phil says Melissa's attempt to separate her father from the criminal he is is normal but futile. "It's a mechanism of denial. You want there to be this man, this influence [in your children's life]. 'Do I owe my children the opportunity to know their grandfather?' But the point is, he sacrificed that right," he says. "The best thing in the world you can do is keep your children away from evil and that man is evil. It's that simple."
Melissa says she's finally learned to accept that her father can't be in her life. "The denial was so thick. I could only see the memories that we had. I couldn't see the heinous acts that he committed," she says. "I was aware of [his crimes], but to me it sounded almost like a fictional story."