The Family I Had is a true crime documentary that's unforgettable once you've seen it. It details the destruction of a family in the aftermath of one of the saddest and most horrific crimes imaginable. On February 4, 2007, 13-year-old Paris Bennett slayed his little sister, Ella, who was only four years old. The crime's toll on the Bennett family is staggering, especially for the children's mother, Charity Bennett. The documentary manages to capture that sorrow and portray the family's struggle with a sensitive hand.
The documentary features interviews with many Bennett family members - including Paris himself - which illuminate the deeper and more complex issues Paris's act exposed. Issues such as proper parenting, the importance of mental health treatment, and the shortcomings of the justice system are all explored by the documentarians. While the story is sad and at many points hard to watch, its retelling is necessary to prevent further crimes like those committed by Paris.
Paris's Assessor Labelled Him A Sociopath After Ella's Slaying
Paris's mental health played a massive role in his actions, but Charity was unaware of her son's struggle prior to his crime. After Paris's sentence hearing, the boy's state assessor told Charity that she "deserved" to know Paris was a sociopath.
Charity initially denied this assessment. Over time, however, Charity began hearing more troubling stories from Paris's caseworker which, in combination with other interactions with her son, led her to reassess her stance.
She eventually asked several professionals to evaluate Paris. One psychologist told her to stop worrying about her son and start worrying about herself - he believed Charity would be in grave danger upon Paris's release.
Charity Has Forgiven Paris But Is Still Wary Of Him
In the years since Paris's heinous act, Charity has publicly acknowledged that she has forgiven her son for what he did to Ella. In one interview, she told reporters:
I have forgiven Paris for what he did, but it’s an ongoing process... I sometimes have to say to myself: "Okay, Charity, take a breath, you know how Paris is wired," but I am not going to be that parent who abandons their kid.
One way she found peace and forgiveness after losing her daughter was through founding the Empathy, Love, Lessons, and Action (or ELLA) Foundation. Her nonprofit organization aims to help those like herself and her family who have been impacted by crime-related trauma.
Paris's Grandmother Was Acquitted Of Paying A Hit Man To Take Out Her Husband
In one of the documentary's more shocking reveals, Paris's grandmother, Kyla, was tried in 1980 for allegedly hiring a hitman to take out her husband at the time. She was eventually found not guilty.
Charity believes that her mother is guilty, though she only adopted this perspective after Paris's slaying of Ella in 2007. Charity claims to have found further evidence that her mother arranged her father's demise.
The Film Lays Out Paris's Gruesome Actions Against Ella
The Family I Had delves into some details of Paris's crime itself, many of which are incredibly heartbreaking and difficult to hear. Ella's end is revealed to have been lengthy, and Paris subjected her to extensive abuse before carrying out the deed.