Longform

Molly Midyette, a mother sentenced to sixteen years for the death of her son, speaks out

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Still, Molly did well at Boulder High, attended Front Range Community College and then the University of Colorado, and went on to get a law degree from Michigan State University. Then, because she was interested in trade issues, she began pursuing an advanced degree in international law at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. But she dropped out of the program and moved back to Boulder in late 2004 — in part because that summer, she'd fallen for Alex Midyette.

Although Alex had gone to different schools — military school, followed by a couple of years at Quest Academy, an elite private school in Boulder — he and Molly had been on the same summer swim team as kids and had mutual friends. But they didn't really get to know each other until a chance meeting at 'Round Midnight, a Boulder bar — where they immediately hit it off.

"When we first started dating, he was a charmer," Molly says. Alex told her he'd had a crush on her back in high school, when he'd pined for her from afar. To prove it, he vividly described the pair of overalls she'd worn to a Taco John's one day when he spotted her. "It was not a cute outfit," Molly says with a laugh. "But he said he thought to himself, 'How can I get a girl like that?'"

The two had some things in common: They both loved Family Guy and South Park, and they'd both grown up in the foothills outside of Boulder — Molly in Boulder Heights, Alex further south, in Sugarloaf. But while the Bowers family was solidly middle-class, Alex's was rich and renowned: His father, architect J. Nold Midyette, had designed the main Boulder Public Library and overseen the renovations of CU's Old Main building and Macky Auditorium; he also owned a large chunk of the east end of the Pearl Street Mall, a mini-empire that included the old Citizens National Bank building as well as the spaces housing the Cheesecake Factory and the then-open Borders bookstore.

It didn't take long for Molly to realize that in the Midyette clan, everything revolved around J., the patriarch. Alex, who hadn't gone to college, had a job with his father's Pearl Street Mall Properties, doing odd jobs and property maintenance work. "J. is always kind of the center of everything," says Molly. "He would just talk and talk, and you can't argue with him. There is no differing point of view." In December 2004, Molly and her parents went to the Midyettes' Sugarloaf compound for dinner. Hearing that Dan and Jane Bowers were liberal, J. began listing all the problems with the 1960s peace movement. During his diatribe, both Molly and her father dozed off — only to awaken and find J. still going on and on.

The Midyettes didn't just dislike the '60s; they seemed to despise anything and everything that smacked of liberalism, and that included Boulder. "They hated hippies, they hated Democrats, they loved guns, they said everyone in Boulder just whined," says Molly. "They were like the anti-Boulder." She remembers Alex's mother, Kay, telling her that the reason her family didn't recycle was because everyone else in Boulder did.

But Molly could look past all of that because of the way Alex treated her. "He catered to me in a lot of ways," she remembers. "He got me flowers, he took me out to restaurants, he bought me jewelry."

******

Still, Molly's closest friends had reservations about the match. "In her relationships, she sometimes chose people who didn't care for her as much as she cared for them," says Dancer Vernet. "Some people took advantage of her." Since Alex always seemed to be partying at bars around town, they wondered if he'd end up being like Molly's other boyfriends. And after Molly moved in with Alex in February 2005, Molly's friend Carlyla Dawson says Molly admitted that she wasn't sure things were going to work out. But the next time Carlyla heard from her friend, Molly and Alex had gotten engaged — because Molly was pregnant.

In the summer of 2005, Alex and Molly got married on the manicured lawn of the Midyette home in Sugarloaf. Because their planned officiant dropped out at the last minute, J. ended up marrying the couple, reading from the Bible: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

By then, Molly says, she'd already discovered that love wasn't always so patient and kind. After they'd moved in together, Alex's demeanor had changed: When he got angry, he'd scream and call her names, kick doors and throw things. One time, he threatened to knock her out, she remembers. The next day she found out she was pregnant, and when she told Alex, he kicked a trash can in her direction and said he wished it had hit her in the stomach.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner