Unspeakable Times
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What Was It Really Like Growing Up As The Daughter Of One Of The Lethal Lovers?

Updated September 23, 2021 5.4k views13 items

In 1986, Gwendolyn Gail Graham and Catherine May Wood worked together to kill five elderly women at the nursing home where they worked in Grand Rapids, MI. They weren’t taken into custody for their crimes until two years later, and in that time, Wood continued to raise her daughter, Jackie Wood, as if nothing was amiss. However, after Cathy was incarcerated, her daughter began battling depression and emotional numbness that followed her into adulthood. 

After decades of remaining silent about the struggles she faced growing up as the child of a serial killer, Jackie eventually began opening up about her issues as a way to move past them. In 2019, she called into The Howard Stern Show, where she discussed her strained relationship with her mother and the personal stigma she has carried with her since childhood, exacerbated by her mother's potential parole in 2019. Jackie’s life has been anything but easy, but she used her hardships as a means to grow from her personal issues.

  • Photo: Walker Police Department / Fair Use

    Jackie Wood Isn't Ashamed To Discuss Her Mother's Past, But Others Think She Should Be

    When speaking with the hosts of the Openly Hostile Opinions podcast about the emotional trauma she suffered following her mother's arrest, Jackie discussed the strange sensation of meeting new people and explaining her experience. 

    She told the hosts that, regardless of whether or not people are actually judging her, she feels as though everyone thinks she’s a "freak.” Jackie explained that when she meets someone new, she attempts to ease them into her mother's story in order to reveal why she is - in her own perception - "off." 

    However, some people believe she should be less open about her mother’s actions. She later explained that she doesn’t want to speak to the families of the victims because she doesn't believe she’s obligated to extend her empathy.

  • Jackie Was Only Eight Years Old When Wood Was Apprehended

    Jackie has been dealing with her mother's gruesome actions since Cathy Wood was arrested when Jackie herself was only eight years old. In 1988, her mother was apprehended by police, and ever since, their relationship has been in flux. 

    While speaking with Stern, she noted that her mother's arrest led to her intense and upsetting relationship with her father. The two were close, but their life together was dysfunctional at best. She explained to Stern: 

    ...He was a despicable person... Because of this intense experience, we were very close, but it was a very dysfunctional relationship.

  • Jackie Claims She Would Have Visited Her Mother In Prison More Often If She Could

    In her interview with Howard Stern, Jackie said that she initially visited her mother frequently in the Michigan prison in which she was first held. However, when Wood was moved out of state, Jackie was no longer able to see her as often as she liked. 

    Jackie says that during her visits, her mother was open about her guilt, although her sister - Jackie's aunt - begged Wood to pretend she was only "joking" about her involvement.

    In spite of the ups and downs in Jackie's relationship with her mother, Jackie wishes she had more time with her, as Wood was barely in her daughter's life from the time Jackie was a child. Jackie said: 

    I did [visit my mother]. I did up until age 21. She moved out of my state, and I didn’t really have money to visit her, so I would have seen her more if I could.

  • Jackie Was Close With Her Father Out Of Necessity, But She Claims He Was Abusive

    After Cathy Wood was sent to prison, Jackie continued living with her father. As she was only eight years old at the time, she had little say in her situation. Jackie told Stern that her father was abusive, and she elaborated on these claims to the hosts of the Openly Hostile Opinions podcast.

    In her OHO interview, she said that her father spanked her often, and after her mother was arrested, he failed to emotionally protect Jackie in his TV appearances. She explained: 

    ...I don’t think [my mother's crimes] attribute to my mental illness... or my trauma as much as the abuse I received from my dad. My dad was very physically and verbally abusive towards me. That’s really where the real trauma is.