The Burning Bed Author:Faith McNulty Police in a small Michigan town were startled when a young woman, her children with her, drove to the jail to surrender. "I did it!...I did it!" she screamed, and told them she had set fire to the bedroom in which her husband slept-then fled, leaving him to die in flames. — Her name was Francine Hughes. This is the story, exactly as it happened... more », of her crime.
What forced this "ordinary" housewife to kill? What could justify such a horrifying act? This remarkable book reveals the helplessness of a woman trapped in an intolerable marriage; how she became the virtual prisoner of an ever more abusive and terrifying man.
At twenty-nine Francine had endured thirteen years with Mickey Hughes during which youthful romance and idealism turned to disillusion and daily fear-then escalated to terror as each outbreak of Mickey's violence brought her closer to death. Flight was impossible unless she abandoned her beloved children. This, she refused to do. Police, the courts, and social agencies blandly turned aside her pleas for help. "Every door was closed. Every time I failed I sank lower. Every day Mickey was coming closer to killing me. It was like living with a bomb-waiting for it to explode."
After Mickey's death, the forces of law that had ignored Francine's predicament went into high gear. She was tried for first degree murder and faced a lifetime in prison.
Faith McNulty, a 'New Yorker" magazine writer known for her perceptive reporting, has explored every aspect of Francine's ordeal. Francine tells in her own words what occurred the day of the murder-how Mickey forced her to ultimate degradation and then fell asleep. She describes her inmost thoughts as she poured gasoline on the bedroom floor and lit the fatal match.
Francine's arrest, imprisonment, and months of suspense while her dedicated young attorney struggled to find a tenable defense, culminated in a dramatic trial in which difficult moral and social issues were laid before a jury while Francine's future hung in the balance. Her extraordinarily moving story exposes a shameful social problem and shows how any woman might be trapped as she was. The book's powerful message transcends the fate of one woman and touches us all.