Mother pens books to honor murdered children

Former Jasper resident Theresa James is writing children’s picture books based on memories of her children, Sean, Jarod, and Brandi, who were murdered in 1998.


FORT WAYNE — Author Theresa James is celebrating her children’s lives through publishing children’s books.


The southwest Indiana native and former Jasper resident published her first book, a memoir titled “Healing Tears,” earlier this year. The memoir chronicles the loss of her three children in a 1998 murder-suicide and her healing process.

After the memoir published, James began writing children’s picture books based on memories of her children. She has published two this year. The first, “I Love and Like You,” came out in June. The second, “Ornaments of Love,” came out in October.

“They’re (about) lessons I was teaching the kids,” said James, 51.

“Ornaments of Love” recreates the Christmas tradition James had of giving each child an ornament each year for the Christmas tree. Told from the perspective of her oldest son, Sean, the story focuses on the creation of traditions and passing them down from generation to generation. The book ends with Sean having a family of his own, something he died too soon to do, and passing traditions down to his children.

James still has many of the ornaments she mentions in the book, and she posted photos of some of them on her Facebook page, TheresaJamesAuthor. The ornaments include the figure of Larry Bird taking a basketball shot, a ballerina and a pair of ice skates made from yarn and paper clips.

James has begun writing children’s books honoring the lives of her children: Sean, Jarod, and Brandi.

James based “I Love and Like You” on her younger son, Jarod. The book is about Jarod learning the difference between “love” and “like.” The book teaches that you can dislike someone for a period of time, but you always love them. The memory of Jarod telling James, “I love and like you” every night before bed inspired the book.

“It was very important for him to understand the difference between love and like and to tell me every night,” James said.

James is currently working on her third children’s book. It will be told from her daughter Brandi’s perspective and will be about sibling love and growing up with two older brothers.

Although the children’s books don’t list a specific town or city as setting, James said she and her kids were living in Jasper during the period that inspired the books. The family lived in Jasper when James lost her children, as well. In July 1998, James’ ex-husband broke into the Jasper home and killed the children and himself. By 1999, James had written the first version of “Healing Tears,” but she didn’t publish the book for another 18 years.

James remarried in 1999. She and her current husband, Todd Patron, met in Jasper as coworkers and went through divorces at the same time. Since getting married, the couple has lived in Evansville and Chicago. They recently moved to Fort Wayne where James works as a financial adviser and writes in her free time.

James’ books are available on Amazon, and the Balboa Press website.

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