Longform

The Fight of Their Lives

Page 10 of 23

One day, Reagan and Pat Robertson both made anti-abortion statements sure to stir up the rabble. "I was getting a lot of negative messages," Hern says, "and it was very depressing. I was thinking about just going away to live permanently in the Peruvian Amazon, even taking a Shipibo wife and raising a family there."

Late that same day, Hern left the clinic and drove home. Soon after, three bullets were fired through the front window of the clinic. A staffer who went into the waiting room to investigate was almost hit when two more shots were fired a minute later.

The lights of the clinic had been on, and there were cars in the parking lot; whoever fired the shots had known there were people inside. Outraged, Hern held a press conference in front of the clinic the next morning, denouncing the perpetrator and offering a $5,000 reward.

"It concentrated my mind," Herns says of the shooting. "I knew that running away to the Amazon wasn't going to solve my problems. And I knew that if fanatics were prepared to use bullets to stop me, then beyond a doubt, I knew that what I do matters. I couldn't stop, even if I wanted to. Otherwise, those who hate freedom would have won."

In 1988 Ken Scott was arrested for assault in Westminster, adding to a growing police record.

After the birth of their third child, his behavior had grown more violent. Tracy tried to enlist his parents in an effort to help get him into a hospital for drug and alcohol counseling, but they denied their son had a problem, according to court documents.

Finally in 1990, Tracy told Scott she was leaving him--this time for good. He didn't believe her and instead ordered her to pack up their belongings for another move to a new house while he went on a two-week hunting trip.

Tracy did move her things, as well as the kids'. But she left Scott's belongings, along with most of the furnishings, in the apartment where they'd been living. When Scott got back, he came looking for Tracy at the new house. She was on the telephone. When she refused to get off, Scott ripped the phone from the wall and smashed it on the floor.

Tracy managed to escape and ran to her car. She was backing out of the garage when she realized she'd left the girls in the house with Scott. She drove to the police station; the cops came back with her and told Scott to leave.

The next six weeks were hell. At one point, Scott broke into the empty house and, using Tracy's red lipstick, wrote on the walls, "God in, evil out." He also wrote 33 letters that he distributed around the house. Some were love letters. Others were threatening. "It's time for you to go to heaven," read one. Scott said he might snap her neck or use a gun. It would be quick, he promised, but she would have time to look into his eyes and repent.

Tracy turned the letters over to the police. The cops came to shoot photos of the wall, but they couldn't find Scott.

The harassment continued. Sometimes she would be sleeping and wake to a knock at her window, but when she looked out, no one was there. Or the telephone would ring and she would hear Scott's strange, two-tone whistle.

One day in October, he called and said he'd decided it was time for her to die. His talk rambled. Sometimes he said he was afraid he was Satan, then he'd claim to be the next coming of Christ. While she recorded his conversation on one line, Tracy called Scott's parents on another and begged them to come pick up the kids. Then she pleaded with Scott to see a doctor. He agreed... but only if she would come get him. A snowstorm had blanketed the city, but Tracy said she would.

With the police following at a distance, a terrified Tracy picked up her husband. He was wearing all white, cotton clothes, having read somewhere in the Bible that it was evil to wear anything else; he said he had burned his other clothes. He was also carrying one of the girls' Bibles and quoting nursery rhymes, which he claimed was "speaking in tongues." She drove him to Porter Hospital.

A psychiatrist there determined that Scott was bipolar, a condition more commonly known as manic depressive. Scott also had a chemical imbalance that was causing him to be delusional and have psychotic episodes, the doctor said. Without medication, the problem would get worse.

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Steve Jackson