A Case of Injustice …

Erin Macke mugshotErin Lee Macke of Des Moines, Iowa, wanted to take a little vacation to Europe.  Specifically, Erin wanted to visit some relatives in Germany.  No big deal, right?  Only problem was … she left her four children, all age 12 and under, home alone.  With a loaded gun in the house.  For eleven days.

On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, Macke boarded a plane for Germany, after asking neighbors to check on the kids during her absence.  She had allegedly tried to get family members to come look after the children, but they were all busy, so … she decided that they would be fine on their own.  The children are a pair of 12-year-old twins, and two younger girls, ages 6 and 7.

After the first night alone, one of the younger children called her father and told him that they were alone and that their mother had gone to Germany.  The father, Matthew Macke, contacted police who immediately went to the home.  When the officers arrived, they found the older twins preparing a meal, and one of the twins led police to a bedroom where the mother had left a gun and ammunition.

Although she had been gone only a day at that point, Macke had posted pictures of herself having a great time on Facebook.Erin MackePolice contacted Children’s Protective Services, and were able to contact Ms. Macke in Germany, at which point they told her that she needed to return immediately.  Ms. Macke actually returned home six days later.  She was obviously concerned about the welfare of her children. She was arrested as soon as her plane landed and charged with four counts of child endangerment and one count of giving a minor access to a gun.  The judge was firm …

“You are to have no contact with them — direct, indirect, writing, phone, voice messaging, text messaging. No contact whatsoever. That includes going to the address.”

The father of the two younger children was granted primary custody of them.  Macke filed an Alford plea.  An Alford plea is similar to a plea of no contest, but is different in that the defendant admits that the evidence the prosecution has would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but maintains that he/she is innocent.  As part of the plea bargain, the gun charge was dropped.

The case was decided last Thursday, when Macke was sentenced to two years’ probation.  No prison time.  She could have received the maximum penalty of two years per child, for a total of eight years in prison.  Instead, she will never see the inside of a prison and will only have to report to a probation officer for two short years.

Macke’s attorney, Michael Oliver, acknowledged that his client made a mistake but told the court that she should be able to make amends and move on from it. “The drama that has surrounded this case has been fanned by the fathers in this case,” he said.  Say what???

Polk County District Judge Carol Egly upheld Macke’s no-contact order with her children but said she believes “these children need to have some sort of direct contact with their mother as soon as possible.” The judge advised the attorneys to come up with an arrangement, requiring Macke to complete counseling, and then allow her to have contact with her children.  Anybody want to lay odds that within a year, Macke has custody of her children again?Erin Macke 2

37 thoughts on “A Case of Injustice …

  1. I do think it is right she lost custody over her children. But I think the children should be able to see her, speak to her, if they want to. I see it not as a question of her right, but theirs. Because children do love their parents, even if they are pretty horrible. Yes, she did act very irresponsibly, but she did not abuse them in a way you should completely forbid all contact. I think you should ask the children. If they say “mum was so mean, she left us all alone, we do not want to see her”, ok. And the 12 year olds may say things like that, but probably not the younger ones. The younger ones probably say “we miss our mummy, why can’t we see her”. – One could of course argue that this women never should have had kids in the first place, but here they are, and I think one needs to act in their best interest. And banning all contact – if it is against their will – does not feel right to me.

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  2. You hit upon the very point I wanted to make. We have to take training and pass tests in order to drive a car, but not to raise a child. I know this may sound like 1984, but prospective parents should have to apply for a parenting license – go through training and perhaps a psychological profile before getting said license.

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    • Quite so … one of the most important things we do in our life … probably THE most important … and we are left to wing it! I well remember my first-born … I was in no way prepared, and she probably owes her life to my dear, sweet, mother-in-law Clara and Donnie’s Aunt Ruby, who took me by the hand and gently guided me into my role as a parent. She turned out to be an angel, smart, kind, compassionate, hard-working. My oldest son? Now that’s another story altogether!!! 😀

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      • Funny, last night at the dinner table, my son-in-law scolded Anne and me for blaming ourselves for perceived parenting errors. In his view, we are the best parents on the planet – he said that his three brothers, who live here in Canada and have been guests in our home, agree with him. I’m not convinced, but it wasn’t hard to listen to! We had lots of help too: Anne’s Aunt Aggie who lived next door and is the most saintly person I ever met. She was our daycare person who made sure our three kids got off to school after we left for work and was there when they came home. Anne’s mom & dad helped a great deal too. We were blessed. Today, I see young couples staggering under the cost of daycare and student debt. I’m grateful Anne and I can help Dianna with our granddaughter, Lexi.

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  3. I am not aware of her past so I am unable to pass judgement on her at this time, though in my opinion I can see the error of her ways in this case… going by national data/statistics this woman has a lot of company… 🙂 I suspect social pressure/ideology had a great deal to bring the circumstances to the present conclusion… suppose to go to school, get married (to a male), have children and live happily ever after… 🙂 one can only wonder what the woman’s fate would have been had she been left to her own devices from the day she was born to determine her destiny…

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    • Certainly one can find reasons, excuses, for what she did, for the way she is. But the bottom line is that her children were in danger because of her selfish actions. That, I cannot excuse.

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      • Not making any excuses, just not making a judgement until I have all the facts, Ma’am.. 🙂 as for her being selfish, I reckon that is up to the individual to decide, again I am not making a judgement until I have all the facts.. That being said, children are in danger every day thanks to mankind’s love for guns…but that is a selfish act for another blog… 🙂
        Have a great day today, and every day!

        “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

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  4. When I lived in England. 12 yers old in early 1960’s it was considered old enough to be at home without adult supervision. I was also considered old enough to work at such jobs as paper delivery route. Which I had.

    I question the wisdom of a parent popping off to Europe leaving them to care for younger children. Yet again, when I was that age it was considered okay, to babysit. Considering the culture in USA for guns. Were the same 12 year-olds equipped to use the gun in the house? Was that something Ms. Macke had them learn? I mean it is Iowa, after all? In UK, children like my uncle had to work at age 12 because the alternative was starvation. This is not some thing, I would have done.

    Just pointing out we need to get a grip. There plenty of reasons to not “freak out” over this. Ms. Macke has lost custody, so let us not make a mountain out of what might be a bit of a molehill? To me it seems all a little bit, well… precious? The stupidity of the mother non-plus. maybe her parents thought when she was a child? it was okay? So an example was already laid down in her life? I would not have dreamed of doing this but single parents may struggle some times. Perhaps she should have kept her legs closed, thirteen years earlier? Cheers Jamie

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    • I had a paper route at age 8-9, babysat (when forced to, for I didn’t much like babies) and at age 13, began working a 40-hour work week. Nonetheless, I cannot support the idea of any parent leaving four children alone for nearly two weeks while she goes on a fun-filled jaunt to Europe. Kids will be kids … they get into mischief. Things happen, like the house catching fire, a tornado, or other catastrophe for which kids are in no way prepared to make the best snap decisions. There is a reason that children have parents, and this parent shirked her responsibility in order to see to her own pleasure. Not, not condoning. Personally, I hope she never gets to see her kids again.
      Cheers!!!

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  5. This sad story prompts me to share a personal experience. One of my neighbors, a single mom with a 10 year old daughter, recently regained custody of her child. After her recent divorce, her chronic alcoholism got much worse – to the point where she was falling down drunk, abusing her child, sleeping around with neighborhood men, and leaving her daughter alone at night. Child protective services did get involved, but this mom was really good at talking her way out of trouble. The father isn’t nearly as bad, but his lifestyle isn’t well-suited to raising a child. The grandfather is around a lot, but he doesn’t want to confront the mom – his own daughter. Several neighbors have thought about reporting the mom’s behavior, but that’s a dramatic step no one really wants to take. We all fear the daughter is going to follow in her mom’s footsteps, and some worry that she’ll get pregnant because her puberty is starting.

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    • I have been in that same situation, wondering what the right thing to do is. I finally did end up contacting children’s services and paid a high price for it, but I would do it again. Why? Because even worse than the child growing up to follow in her mother’s footsteps is the very real possibility of the child ending up dead, either by drugs or by the mother’s heavy hand. It’s a tough call, and I empathise with you and your neighbors.

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  6. It sounds like the justice system is as deranged as the parent who would do something like this.Next time this devoted mother wants to go she may decide to get a stranger in for a couple of weeks so they’re not alone, but they are still at risk. Her lawyer is a miracle worker as I’d expect her to be wearing irons for some time.
    Cwtch

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    • This is certainly one time that the justice system failed to mete out justice. Any parent who puts his/her own pleasure ahead of the well-being of their children should never have become a parent to start with. Worse yet, I’m betting she will have at least two, possibly all 4 of her children back within a year. Sigh.
      xxx Cwtch xxx

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  7. It feels like we are seeing such a disconnect between parents and their kids. I’m trying to decide if there has always been so many instances where parents kill their kids or whether this is a new “trend” that is happening. Every I hear of one of those cases or something like this I just have to wonder if people are getting worse and worse.

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    • I think it is getting worse, as our culture is becoming more and more self-absorbed. Think of the parents of the Columbine High School shooters … they didn’t even know their kids had a stash of weapons in their bedrooms. Parents are more concerned these days with making money and with their own pleasure than with creating a safe & healthy environment in which to raise their families. Now my question is … why even have kids if you don’t want to take care of them?

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        • So true. I was thinking about that very thing the other night. I have three grown children, the youngest 41, the eldest 48 in October. If I were just starting out now, in today’s world and with the environmental concerns, constant threat of nuclear conflict, and the ever-increasing populist movement … I think I would opt NOT to have children. Why populate the earth with people who may not be able to breathe the air, drink the water, or have sufficient food sources in another 20 years? Some days I am glad that I am already old.

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          • I hear you. The older I get the more I wonder how the world will be when my grandkids are in their 20’s. I know a LOT of young people are opting to not have kids and have having tubes tied and the big V’s done. Others get upset with them, but should they later wish to have children in their life, adoption and care of a child already here is such a good alternative. We are adoptive parents of a daughter from India. One of the best things we ever did. But it’s all such a tangle beyond that. Fewer babies, fewer working people later to help support senior care. It’s sort of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

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            • I think we should all respect the decisions of others … it may not be one person’s choice, but for the person who decides not to have children, it may be the perfect choice. And as you said, there are so many children out there with no parents. Two thumbs up to you for adopting from India!!! I have friends who have adopted two children from Korea and they are a wonderful family. I have another friend who was to adopt a baby that was born 2 weeks ago … they had bought nursery furniture and all the ‘baby things’ needed. The baby was born, they spent much time at the hospital bonding with the baby. And then came the big day … they went to pick her up … only to find that the birth mom had changed her mind. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak. Yes, i know … it is off-topic here, but when you mentioned adoption, I couldn’t help thinking of them and their sad situation. Hugs, my friend!!!

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              • You know, that’s one reason we decided on foreign adoption, so we wouldn’t be in that situation. Imagine our surprise then when Kavitha’s (Stef’s) mom showed up at the orphanage the day after the escort left to bring her to us and wanted her back because someone told her American’s buy their children to harvest their body parts. Holt International was wonderful to work with. They said it was the messiest adoption they’d ever done. There was even a warrant for out arrest in India. It was kind of a nightmare. My gut really feels for your friends… That baby was already theirs… It truly is like losing your child. Older children aren’t often considered. Everyone wants a baby. Stef was 7 when we adopted her.

                https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/writing-101-day-four-a-three-part-serial-about-loss/

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                • Thank you so much for sharing that story! I typically skim through posts and links that other people send me, as my time is so limited (you see what time I am answering comments), but I read Part I and I found i had to know … the rest of the story! I both laughed and cried at your experiences, but I also came to know more about you, to realize how lucky I am to have found you as a friend, for you are truly a great lady! I am so glad the adoption worked out … and is there a present-day follow up?

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                  • LOL! Thanks, but I’m just trouble-maker me! And yes, there is a followup somewhere. The upshot is Ethan 8, Liam 7, Caleb 5, and Lydia (soon to be) 3 and they are looking into adopting . Oh and then there’s Stef’s other KID Jesse. He’s 34! 😉 They moved back home from DC a year ago. Jesse worked for the D of Education. SO glad to have them here, but let me tell you, it sure has caused an upheaval in our quiet little life!!! LOL I didn’t think I was getting old till I had to get down on the floor and play with Legos! 😀

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                    • Oh what a JOY!!! My daughter and granddaughter live with me … always have, except for about a six-month period early on, and I simply cannot imagine my life without them. I always feel so sorry for people whose children and grandchildren live thousands of miles away and they only see them once a year, if that. You are lucky, as am I, to be an integral part of their lives, and vice versa! And watch out for those Legos … they hurt like heck when you step on one!!! 😀

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