Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect Podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and author of the bestselling book, The Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests and explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately, how to get out of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect Podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me.
Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome everyone to the Gaslight Effect Podcast. Today I have with me Collier Landry, who is a filmmaker and a survivor and thriver of many years of trauma. And I know that this session, this episode today with Collier will give everyone a bird's eye, look at what it means to have strength of the human spirit, and to move forward with hope and optimism, learning from what's happened in the past, taking with us what's happened in the past and making a life for ourselves that is positive and rich and fulfilling. So, Collier, I know that's a bit cryptic as I was saying it to our audience, but please make it more specific by telling us your story and what you, why you said yes to the Gaslight Effect Podcast.
Collier Landry: Well, uh, first of all, thank you for having me. Um, Robin, um, I, uh, I am sorry. Um, thank you for having me, Robin. I appreciate it. Uh, so just so your audience knows who I am, so my name is Collier Landry. I am a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. When I was 11 years old, my, I overheard my father murder my mother, um, in the small town of Mansfield, Ohio. Um, no one believed me except for one detective. And over the course of 25 days, myself and that detective, I started gathering evidence against my father. We solved my mother's murder. They found her body buried underneath the house that my father had purchased in another state. And, um, I testified against my father. He was arraigned into custody for her murder. I testified in the grand jury. I then was rejected by both sides of my family and remanded to the foster care system.
Collier Landry: Um, and I testified for two days at his trial, and he is still incarcerated to this day. Uh, I then for the next 26 years, spent trying to figure out what I'm gonna do with that story, right? And what that looks like for me. And so I moved to Los Angeles. I dropped outta music school. I moved to Los Angeles, and I became a filmmaker. And I made a film with two-time Oscar winner, Barbara Coppel called A Murder in Mansfield. Um, that was my sort of process, right? And then I ended up starting a podcast, uh, which was originally called Moving Past Murder. Now it's called Moving Past Trauma. I host another podcast with Tara Newell from Dirty John called The Survivor Squad, where we speak to survivors about their stories. Uh, but I came, became very active in this, in this world of, you know, true crime survivors, if you will, or just people who have been through extraordinary circumstances and come out, you know, somewhat okay on the other side.
Collier Landry: So, uh, I was happy to be a part of this podcast. I love, uh, any, I I, I have a mental health podcast, a top ranked mental health podcast. So I am very interested in, in sharing with the world my personal experiences, so people don't have to go through that. And one of the things that probably resonates most with my audience is I read my father's letters from prison. My father is a psychopath, um, uh, a master manipulator narcissist, uh, major gaslight. And when I share those letters, because I have over 400 of them, when I share those letters on the podcast, people find such solace in that, in my story and in that information, because they recognize situations that they've been placed in, whether it be by a, a parental figure in their life, whether it be by a spouse, whether it be by a partner, friend, whatever. It, it really resonates with them. And, um, it's a very cool thing to take your trauma and use it to empower not only yourself, but others as well.
Dr. Robin Stern: So, Collier, I thank you for, um, one, introducing yourself to, to the audience and telling your story and such an open and vulnerable way. I know that you've shared this story quite a bit. So as you were talking, I was wondering if people were like clutching at their hearts, um, because it is a heartbreaking story. And, uh, and yet here you are, our teacher today, here you are a survivor with your wisdom. Uh, that and the desire to, to really, um, empower people to use their own stories to learn from and grow with, and move past trauma. And I wonder, um, think thinking about the gaslighting piece of it, whether there, how your dad in the initial days after the murder and the initial time period tried to gaslight you about where your mother was. I mean, I've watched a YouTube of your, uh, you're telling the story before this recording, and, uh, you knew,
Collier Landry: Oh, uh, absolutely.
Dr. Robin Stern: And so how did you, how did you hold onto that reality with your dad trying to distract you, deflect you deny what was going on? How did, how did he do it, and how did you stay connected to what you knew to be true?
Collier Landry: Well, I mean of, of course, my father was very prevaricated and, uh, as any master manipulator is, right? But the thing is, is that I heard the murder happen. I heard it happen. So let me give you guys a little bit of background. So, um, because I, I, I take, you haven't seen my film, so I'll, I'll give you sort of the nutshell. So, on the morning of December 31st, 1989, I woke up at about 3:18 AM and I to the sound of a scream. And then I heard two loud thuds, about 60 seconds apart. Um, I could hear my father muttering, and then I counted his footsteps as they walked down the hall. There was 12 of 'em. And they, I was pretending to be asleep in my bed, and I could see out of my peripheral vision, 'cause I always spent the night, I, I always slept with my door open, and I saw the feet in the doorway. And something in that moment told me, don't look up.
Dr. Robin Stern: Mm-hmm.
Collier Landry: The feet left. And I somehow went back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later in the early morning and ran straight to my mother's bedroom, and I noticed that the, the bedsheets were all a mess. Um, she, I was looking for blood, trying to figure out what's going on. And I go downstairs and my father is sitting on the couch with a towel wrapped around his waist. So he had just taken a shower, and I said, where is my mother? And he didn't say anything to me. And I said, again, where is my mother? And that's when he looked at me and he goes, well, mommy took a little vacation, Collier. And that's when he started down this whole, um, diatribe of how, um, they got into an argument. She threw credit cards at him, she threw her purse at him. Um, she stormed out without a jacket down the driveway.
Dr. Robin Stern: He was trying to tell you that the fuds you heard were her pocketbook falling down the stairs or things that she was throwing, falling down the stairs.
Collier Landry: Yeah. So, so I was gonna, I was gonna get to that so I can, I asked him specifically, I said, well, I heard these thuds. And he said, that must have been mommy's purse hitting the wall. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: And you knew that that couldn't be true.
Collier Landry: I didn't believe him at all.
Dr. Robin Stern: Did you tell him that?
Collier Landry: Oh, no. Not abso. I mean, my father was six foot three, six foot 4, 230 pounds. I was an 11 year old boy who was asthmatic chubby. I wasn't gonna, my father, I grew up with a, with a history of violence in my family. My father had a very violent temper. My mother and I were both very much afraid of him at times. It was, you know, appease, you know, fight, flight appease, fight flight, fawn, whatever they call it. Um, I grew up walking on eggshells a lot, you know, watch out. Um, but my father wasn't around a, a lot either. My father was a chronic womanizer, which I didn't know up until recently before this, because my parents were getting a divorce because my father had, had crossed the Rubicon with my mother, which was introducing me to his pregnant girlfriend. And, you know, I didn't, I didn't even know who this woman was. So that was like the last straw for her. So she filed for divorce,
Dr. Robin Stern: Gaslight her also while he was living this, um, dual life. And, uh, while the two of you were clearly afraid of him, because it sounds like he was very scary and, um, very crazy.
Collier Landry: Sure. Yeah. Well, also, um, my father, uh, my mother knew about all the affairs my mother knew about the girlfriend. I, I didn't know this until years later, but, um, and the deal that she had struck with him was, you can do whatever you want, Jack, but don't, um, don't evolve our kid. You know, that was like, that was, like I said, the Rubicon, the line in the sand, don't cross that
Dr. Robin Stern: And abuse me, but not our children.
Collier Landry: Yeah. Or just, well, he did abuse me too. But, but what it was is that that was the line in the sand don't involve Collier. And he did. So, um, uh, my father, so then on that morning, my father then goes into this whole, um, diatribe of how about how he starts, you know, tells me that she got into the car and I had asked him about the thuds, and he said it was her purse hitting on the wall. And then he starts saying, you know, we're not gonna call the police. We're not gonna call the F B I. And when he said, we're not gonna call the F B I, that, to me, I thought, yeah, that escalated really quickly,
Collier Landry: So my grandmother, he had brought her, you know, 'cause it was New Year's Eve, and, um, she was supposed to be with us for Christmas, I believe she had pneumonia. So she came up. Now, my father's mother, my grandmother was very close with my mother, extremely close. She had her own daughter that she was sort of estranged from, but she had a very good relationship with my mother. They were almost like sisters. It was really wild. So, um, my, it was interesting to see her behavior because, so my father leaves for that day, and, uh, my grandmother says, you know, we're gonna listen to your dad. Don't call anybody. Don't do this. My mother had just gotten a portable, like, cordless phone. So I grabbed the cordless phone, I go upstairs and I had saved all of my mother's friend's telephone numbers on a piece of paper that I wrote.
Collier Landry: And I stuck it into a Santa Claus Garfield that I had. 'cause this is the holidays, right? And I grabbed that piece of paper and I locked myself in the bathroom, and I start calling everyone on the list, and I start telling them what, what I heard. And I said, you know, I, I can't call the police. I'm not allowed to, but you should call the police
Collier Landry: And they, um, they, you know, left that day and didn't hear anything. My father comes home later that day, we're, you know, speculating about where my mother could be. Could she have gone to Toronto? Could she have gone this? It's just the weirdest thing ever. Like, where, where did she take a trip to? And at this point, I'm just observing everything and I'm just playing along like, oh, okay, let's talk about this. And I'm literally saying to myself, you've done something with her. I know what you've done. I didn't know if he had killed her for sure, but he's responsible for her missing. That's all I do know. And I, um,
Dr. Robin Stern: Do you think your grandmother knew?
Collier Landry: N no. No. I think that my grandmother, you know, my father is Italian. My, so my grandmother is full-blooded Italian, and there's a very special bond that an Italian mother has with her firstborn son. I think that she allowed herself to, allowed herself to be gaslit and manipulated as well. And, um, just sort of believed
Dr. Robin Stern: Even at having to digest a crazy story or a, an un a story that was so hard to believe in the middle of winter that she would leave, that she would leave you, um, yeah. Even having to digest that or maybe trying to digest that so that she didn't have to face the truth.
Collier Landry: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, my father, you know, comes home that night and, um, the next day he's gone again. And because he and my mother were getting a divorce, he was moving his practice to Erie, Pennsylvania. So he was moving the practice, and I, um, I call my mother's friends again, a sneak with the cell phone or the cell phone, the portable phone. And they, um, and I said, well, okay, what's going on? They said, okay, well, we fired a, filed a missing person's report. I was like, she's not missing. Like something's happened to her. Um, by the grace of God
Collier Landry: He looks at this and he goes, huh, this is interesting. A doctor's wife goes missing on New Year's Eve. I'm go check this out. So he comes to the house, knocks on the door, my grandmother answers, and he just wants to come in and ask us a few questions. And I'm like, come on in, come on in my grandmother's apoplectic. She goes to get the phone, she's screaming, you know, get outta here. You know, my, my son is gonna sue you. He's a doctor, yada yada. So she goes to get the portable telephone, and I pull him aside. I said, look, my mother would never leave me. Something's happened to, to her. Give me your card. I'm going to school tomorrow. Give me your card. Like, I need to talk to you.
Dr. Robin Stern: Tyler, what were you, what were you, I mean it, first of all, so deeply, sorry that you, that doesn't even do the experience justice, but the, just how horrible that you went through that. I'm, so, it's heartbreaking. And, um, what did you do as a young boy with your feelings during that time? How did you steal yourself, if you will, to not let on so that your father would get, um, would mistreat you even more and, and just move through those moments in pursuit of what you knew was the truth?
Collier Landry: Well, you know, I did a Ted talk about this, and it, it, I, I often hypothesize when you go through extreme trauma, you, you, we either say like, why? Like, why is this, why did this happen to me? Why did this go on? Or we move to like, what now? Like, what are we do right now in action? And that's what I was on the morning of December 31st, 1989. I was in, what? Now I'm not gonna, so I, I can only take what's in front of me and do what I can do right now. I can't change what just happened. I'm gonna change what happens moving forward. Yes. So that detective comes, uh, he gives me his card, my grandmother comes back, he sort of calms her down and she goes, oh. He goes, okay, I'll come back later when the doctor's home. Um, which he did come back later that day.
Collier Landry: Uh, my father went and talk to him. My father brought his divorce lawyer there, and then they're sort of strategizing that night. The girlfriend came over with a pork roast. 'cause it's New Year's and it's just like we're playing house and, um, I'm not having any of it. Mm-hmm.
Collier Landry: Told 'em about this, where they lived, all this stuff, right? Because I remembered I was a very observant child, and I was very much, um, I, like I said, I went into this action mode and I tell him, I said, look, I'm gonna go home. And when my grandmother's downstairs dealing with my adopted sister, 'cause my, my mother and father had adopted a, a, a, a little girl from Taiwan six months before the murder. I said to her, I said to him, I said, look, I, while my grandmother's downstairs making dinner or whatever, I'm gonna sneak upstairs and I'm gonna pull out the bookcases in the, and look in the crawl space for my mother's body.
Dr. Robin Stern: It sounds like you, in the interest of moving forward, and also because when we experience a potential trauma like that, um, uh, a traumatic moment, we can't necessarily feel our feelings. It's a, it's a protective factor that we have as human beings, that our feelings can come later. But at that moment, you may be in shock, and I'm assuming you were, um, at the same time, not, not in shock enough that you couldn't move forward, right? So you had strong mind in that moment to know that you had to move forward and some, and resilience feet on the ground, resilience to be able to do something. What made you think that your mother's body was in the house?
Collier Landry: Well, I didn't know, you know, I'm, I'm looking for clues, right? Because I'm in action mode. So I said, you know, I'm gonna look in the crawlspace to see if her body's there. I'm gonna look to see if her purse is laying around. Like she wouldn't leave the house without this one purse. Um, all this stuff, right? And I, um, I started observing my father's behavior, which was the most telling of all of it, because my father went from this guy who was very machismo, very, you know, um, would say things like, you know, uh, your mother's turning you into a little. You know, call me a stupid little fat boy. 'cause I was overweight because I was, you know, I took all these steroids from my asthma when I was a kid. And, and, um, you know, he was very nasty with me to being very nice.
Collier Landry: And, you know, my father would, you know, chastise me for covering my eyes, like during a violent movie or a violent scene. 'cause I was a kid, right? And I didn't need to see that stuff. And that's what my mother taught me. And it went from that to like, I'm playing the Nintendo and it's a fighting game. And he starts, he, he goes, I never would've gotten this for you if I knew this was a violent game. And I'm like, who? Like, who is this person? And so over the next, you know, like I said, 25 days, I am observing him. And he, my father's coming home, and he has all these strange cuts on his hand. My father always had very well manicured hands. Uh, he had all these strange cuts on his hands. He had, uh, he had me rub Ben Gay on his shoulders, which is like a muscle relaxing ointment because he said he was sore from lifting boxes. Um, and every night his divorce lawyer is coming over and they're like strategizing in our dining room.
Dr. Robin Stern: So he was moving forward with the divorce, even in your mother's absence?
Collier Landry: Y y yes. Or I don't know what he was talking about with that lawyer. Right, right,
Dr. Robin Stern: Right. Uhhuh
Dr. Robin Stern: Were you scared of him and of the transformation?
Collier Landry: Oh, of course. I was. Absolutely. Of course I was. I grew up being very afraid of my father. Like I said, my father was six foot 4, 230 pounds, you know, a big guy for a child to take on. Right? That's a big person. Um, so, uh, yeah, I was afraid of him, but I also was not gonna let him get away with this. And I was also sort of, I was fearful for my own life too. And, but I started, I would just watch my father like a hawk and every day I'd go to school and I would either have Dave Mamore come down, or I would call him and I would be giving him more and more information. And it wasn't until the middle of January, 1990, my father says to me, um, I have to go the office and grab some paperwork. His, his, his office.
Collier Landry: And, uh, because he was a doctor. Um, and we go to the office to pick up paperwork. And on our way back to the house, we stop at a gas station and my father goes into the gas station. I realize, and this is something that my mother always told me, and it was just like when Dave Mamore was there, and I had that one moment, my mother always told me about the carousels in Philadelphia, which is where both her and my father grew up at, grew up. And that the carousel, you, you ride the carousel horse and you try to grab the brass ring to win the prize, right? And she'd always tell me, grab the brass ring in life. Well, I knew that that was a brass ring. Roman, I can see my father in the gas station, and I'm watching him through the windshield. I start rummaging through his truck, and I open up the center console of the truck, and I find two photographs. One is of his girlfriend with her two children sitting in front of a fireplace that's wrapped in plastic. And the other one is of a house that I've never seen before. And I put two and two together that this house is with her
Collier Landry: Um, and then I notice, so this is, like I said, mid-January 1990, around the 20th of January. And, and mind you, like every night when I, I'm dealing with my father, my father's hypothesizing more and more on where my mother could be, what she could be doing. And my father has taken on this role of victim that our, your mother has left us in such a state. She has. Um, she is not, um, you know, she's wronged the family, you know, because with a narcissist, it's all about them, right? So they're the ones that are wronged. Um, you know, so she's, and, and I wonder what mommy's doing right now. I wonder what mommy had for dinner. I mean, it's just wacky, right?
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, and also he's a consummate gaslight. So trying to convince you that that's the reality rather than what he fears, you may know.
Collier Landry: Absolutely. Absolutely. But I do notice over the course of these, these weeks that my father's behavior, my father becomes more and is appearing to be more and more under duress. But he's not responding in a way that he's getting violent. He's responding in a way that he's being very nice and gentle and trying to appear as, as, you know, everything is fine. It, it's very, very weird. And my father says to me, uh, my father calls me bumper, that's my nickname. And he says, um, bumper, you know, um, bump, I, uh, I have a medical convention, uh, that's coming up in Florida. And I think, you know, given mommy leaving us in such a state, and I know you're so bothered by it, we should have a father and son bonding trip. And you'll come down there to Florida with me and we'll, um, we'll, we'll go, you know, we will have a good time and it'll take your mind off of mommy leaving us in such a state. Yeah,
Dr. Robin Stern: Sounds horrifying.
Collier Landry: And I knew, so we, we would go to medical conventions in Florida every year in Clearwater Beach, Florida. They were not in the middle of January. They were in during spring break when doctors could bring families and go to Bush Gardens and go to the beach and all these things. Right. And they wouldn't have it, you know, three weeks after Christmas, right.
Dr. Robin Stern: You were a young boy, and your life was in danger. I mean, how, how horrible.
Collier Landry: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. And I think my father was obviously realizing, because the cops are coming every day to the house to talk to him. Dave Ward's coming every night to talk to my father while his lawyer is there. Like he's coming every night to talk to them. And the lawyer keeps stonewalling him. And I see Dave at the door, and I'm pretending to like, not acknowledge the fact that I literally talked to him six hours prior. It's school, you know? So it's sort of this common bond that we have that we're gonna figure this thing out. So he, uh, on the morning of December, or sorry, January 24th, 1990, I wake up to two strangers in my bedroom and they say, you know, you got 20 minutes to pack a bag. We're getting out of here. And I said, um, you know, I, I packed a bag for my sister and I, and I said, can I take my dog? And they said, we'll, come back for your dog. I never saw my dog again. Um, as we're going downstairs, I can hear all this commotion, and the entire house is filled with men and women and white lab coats, police officers, everything. There's, they're executing a search warrant at my home.
Collier Landry: They escort me out. And, um, uh, I go, I don't go back to school. I go to my school principal's house. And, um, I have that night, I have the worst asthma attack in my life. And, uh, that next morning I go to the hospital and they give me a breathing treatment. They, they stabilize me. Um, but I noticed when I'm walking into the house, or I'm sorry, when I'm walking into the hospital, there's a honor box. And they, the, the people that were taking me there, they could direct me over from the honor box, like steer me away from it. And so I had always been like this. 'cause the lobby of the hospital was full. So I get a breathing treatment, I stabilize, and then that's when they tell me, call your lieutenant smore, found your mother. And she was dead. And, um, my first words that came outta my mouth were that bastard. And, uh, that's like really where the story
Dr. Robin Stern: What did you do? I mean, at that point here you are this 11 year old boy, and with that scared of your dad having witnessed this or heard this murder, and, um, like what did you do? Who did you turn to? You had, um, detective Smore, uh, were you able to lean on
Collier Landry: Him? Well, well, you have to understand that I, I, I have no one at this point
Dr. Robin Stern: Horror,
Collier Landry: Horror and sadness that cascades down, that what you knew in your heart to be true is almost too much to bear. Um, but again, I was determined
Dr. Robin Stern: For people listening. How did you, how did you Yeah,
Collier Landry: Yeah. I'm gonna get into all that. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So what happened is, is that my, you know, I had, my mother had a sister. My, um, my, I had, you know, an aunt and uncle on my father's side. And, um, uh, my mother's sister came out to identify the body. We had like a little, you know, memorial service for my mother. I was not allowed to attend the funeral. The funeral was in Baltimore, so this is in Ohio. Um, the funeral was in Baltimore. And, um, my aunt told me with her family on the phone that they could not take me in, even though she was my godmother. Um, that they would not be able to take me in because I looked like my father verbatim, which was really heartbreaking. On the flip side, my father's side of the family wanted me to rescind my testimony, say that I was making everything up, that I was lying. Um, and that's what I was gonna do. And they didn't want anything to do with me until I did that
Dr. Robin Stern: Like, looking back on this, and I know you've thought about it so much, um, prior to today, but how did you make it through? What, what did you say to yourself? How did you think about the world? What did you, um, who did you talk to?
Collier Landry: Well, I mean, the thing is, is that I
Collier Landry: You know, I, I was able to talk to Dave and mess more from time to time. Um, but, you know, I wasn't really able to like, I mean, I had bonded with him for sure during the investigation, but it wasn't until really after my father's conviction that, that we really, you know, bonded. I was able to spend time with him. But, um, and ultimately I wanted to be adopted by him. But I, um, I, uh, I just, you know, when you're in the Nader of your life right? You're sort of faced with this choice that nobody wants to be faced with, right? Which is okay, you know, I've lost both my parents, my family, my entire way, life, my dog, everything. And there's no turning back, right? You have officially crossed the Rubicon. I mean, I knew that right when they told me my mother was dead.
Collier Landry: But I, you have to somehow find the courage because the fact of the matter is, is if my father, if my father, I had to testify against my father because my, my, I knew, and I talk about this a lot with young people, is you have to recognize these moments that you have to do. You have to honor yourself. You have to do the right thing, because I knew that if I didn't testify against him, if I didn't give everything I could to finding my mother, I would regret it for the rest of my life. On the flip side, there was this threat that my father would continue to abuse me the rest of my life and possibly throw, stick me in a hole, um, for doing what I had done. If my father gets acquitted, I, I will probably go back into his custody and play house, and he will never let me forget the fact that I tried to put him in prison for murdering my mother. I mean, that, that's, you
Dr. Robin Stern: Might not, you might not survive, period. You might, he might.
Collier Landry: That's what I'm saying. That's why I said I either wouldn't survive or I would be abused the rest of my life, which he still managed to abuse me,
Dr. Robin Stern: What extraordinary young man you were, and what a man, what an extraordinary man you are to tell, to tell this heartbreaking, extraordinary story of your courage, though. It's really a story of your courage and your integrity, living your integrity. And that's something that, that people in an abusive relationship, um, or in, uh, uh, traumatic, um, bond with someone in a gaslighting relationship involved with a toxic narcissist, um, something that they can hold onto, like live your integrity is, is part of how you can begin to think your way to next steps to get out. Like live being true to yourself, you're saying,
Collier Landry: Yeah, absolutely. You ha you, you, because you, you're not gonna survive. You're not, I I would not, I knew at that very young age, and I don't know how I knew this. I mean, this is just a testament to my mother and how she raised me. Um, you know, both my parents were very well educated. They both went to Penn, you know, my mother was a dental hygienist, my father was a doctor, you know, my father, my, my mother supported my father through medical school. And then when she had me, she became caretaker of the home, and she did all his books. So she was his accountant and all these things for his business, right when he entered private practice when we moved to Mansfield. So, um, you know, I grew up with education being a very cornerstone of my upbringing, right? I was a kid who, who, you know, would get out for summer break, have some fun with the friends for a week, and then I'd go back to going to like summer school classes and, and science and math and arts.
Collier Landry: And my mother was very big into the arts. I mean, both my parents were, and it was something that, uh, you know, and I loved it. I loved it. You know, I was the last kid on the block to get a Nintendo. I was, you know, I, I was a very, uh, you know, I was a very well educated child, so I knew enough, I was self-aware enough to know of the ramifications of my decisions at that moment, that they would, that they would haunt me the rest of my life if I didn't do the right thing. And even the prosecutors were saying to me, you know, they would say, Collier, you don't have to, you don't have to testify. And I was like, over my dead body,
Dr. Robin Stern: Old were you?
Collier Landry: I was 12 when it went to trial.
Dr. Robin Stern: That's incredible.
Collier Landry: Yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: And it's incredible that you chose a path of, of light and hope, rather than reliving or, or taking your father's lead to a path of darkness and abuse. And, and I, um,
Collier Landry: Can I ask you something though? Like, what purpose does that serve? Like that's the biggest thing with intergenerational trauma that I have, is that everyone has a choice. And I know this is really difficult for a lot of people to swallow. You have a choice. You can say, this stops here, and now yes,
Dr. Robin Stern: You can,
Collier Landry: Because you don't have to let this control, you know, I, I look at, you know, I do talk about a lot of like drew crime cases because as someone who was forced into that world, because of what happened to me, you know, you look at the MUR trial in South Carolina, right? And the intergenerational trauma that has plagued that family and has led to, you know, the murder of his wife and his son, and then the, all these other suspicious deaths, Stephen Smith, uh, the housekeeper, et cetera, Mallory Beach, who was killed in the bony, all these things, this is all compounded intergenerational trauma, then incorporates substance abuse, usage, things of that nature. And then you have a child who, Buster Murtaugh, who is literally a, you know, the surviving heir who has lost his brother and his, his mother and his father, his whole way of life is now picking up the pieces going what?
Collier Landry: And of course, the public excoriates him for being him
Dr. Robin Stern: How are you standing? How are you, I
Collier Landry: Up in a ball muttering to yourself in your bedroom is beyond me. Like, I don't get it
Dr. Robin Stern: So, back to your question to me, when you started to talk about like, people having choice, of course they have, we all have choice every day over time. What happens when you're abused or when you're gaslighted or when you're traumatized, is that often you, you lose, you're no longer that same strong self you were when it started, right? And yet, somehow you were able to hold onto yourself. One of the questions I asked you early in the, in the episode, like, how did you do that? How did you hold onto yourself? Like, apparently you were blessed with tremendous integrity, and maybe it was your, your bond with your mom that kept you going. Um,
Collier Landry: Of course, absolutely. It was the bond with
Dr. Robin Stern: Other. So there is something very unusual about what's happened for you, and that people, we do know that people are way more resilient than you think they are, than we think we are. But that said, it's what you went through was unspeakable and horrific. And for a child to have to go through that alone, um, yes, you did have the detective who you eventually had the relationship with, but that was it. Like you were alone. And yet you held onto something that many people have spent years looking for their, their integrity. You know? And while it may be the reason that ultimately people free themselves from some of these relationships that are like abusive and, and, um, intolerable, you've had it from the beginning and it helped you to navigate through all of it. You know, even now, I mean, here you are wanting to help other people. Even now when you still have contact with your father and you're still dealing with him, you are in your own integrity.
Collier Landry: It, it doesn't occur to me to behave any other way.
Collier Landry: Um, and I haven't, I haven't been the best person, you know, I've had my moments for sure. But at the end of the day, I think if you lead your life with integrity and an intent of purpose, you will ultimately be, be served in the best possible way. And if you can just, you know, I, I, for years, for years, I struggled to reconcile this. And I kept saying to myself, if I can, like when I made my film, which was, you know, a a decade long process, if I can heal myself and change one person's life, if I can speak to that kid who's in foster care, who's literally at the nature of their life and say to them, you will make it through. You'll be okay. Look at me like you're gonna survive this kid, go easy. You're gonna, you're gonna make it. You know?
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, and I'm sure many people who are listening to this beautiful, um, conversation that you are having with, with them right now with the beautiful part of this conversation are so touched by your saying that because to come from your background and to believe in the power of kindness, and that we can step into it any day, like any day, you can wake up and treat people kindly any day you can shift from being in someone else's control to owning your own decisions and living in integrity. And people listening to your story will be inspired by that, that you were able to do that from the very beginning of this horror. And of course, you haven't had a perfect life. None of us had, but you also had no role model for what a healthy relationship looks like. And so for you to forge forward and believe in kindness, what a gift to yourself and what a blessing. And before we have to close today, and, and I hope there may be another time that you'll come back, because we haven't even talked about the years that your dad's been in prison and, um, what that's been like for you and the messages back and forth. Um, so I'd love to be able to continue the conversation. Where can people hear more about your story? Where can they find the movie? Where can they find you?
Collier Landry: So you can find me on all social media. My handle is at co Your Landry. That's on, you know, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. I am most active on YouTube, uh, TikTok, I have a large TikTok. Following my podcast is called Moving Past Trauma. I also host, um, the Survivor Squad with Tara Newell. Some people might know her from Dirty John, which was a large podcast and, um, and television series. And then, uh, I made the film A Murder in Mansfield. You can get that on Investigation Discovery, discovery Plus, or you can get it on my store,
Collier Landry: And, um, yeah, I do want to say one last thing, though. I was adopted eventually when I was 13, and I did grow up in, in a household that, um, you know, that, that definitely struggled to, to come to terms with what I had been through. But they also provided some, some were fantastic role models for me as well. And I learned, you know, my father, who was such a, you know, a piece of work,
Dr. Robin Stern:
Collier Landry: Absolutely. I just wanna be really clear, you know, and I, and I had wanted to be adopted by Dave Mamore, and that didn't work out. I was adopted, I was award custody to the Ziglars, but I still was able to maintain those relationships later on in life. And, um, that stood me in good stead, you know, um, having even a basic support system. And I was also very active as a child and as a teenager in adoption groups and things like that to help other kids who were struggling with being adopted. And I would share my story, which would give them hope that they could reconcile, because being adopted is, is tough sometimes when you don't, when you're kind of, you know, sideswiped by it and you don't know, you don't realize it. So I found being, I found being in service and helping others really, really helped me as well growing up.
Dr. Robin Stern: So you've been giving back a giving for, for all these years. And I, I do wanna, um, just yeah, highlight what you said about, uh, what we know, uh, being resilient, we knew know about moving past trauma, is that making meaning of it, which you've done your entire life. Yeah. That trauma, um, is, is the most healing and hopeful way to go on with your life and to make a better life for yourself. And also having the scaffolding of the social support of people who were, uh, were caring about you and who you could rely on. Your fa your the parents who adopted you, the people who adopted you. Sounds like a really important piece of your story that I'm really, I thank you for bringing that in.
Collier Landry: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's, you know, my mother built the framework and then I was able to use that to then continue on. And, um, it's a wonderful thing. But, uh, I, I think being able to give back and share, because not everybody can be so all open. I, I, you know, I'll, I'll leave you with this. O one of the things, you know, when I got involved in, in True Crime or sharing my story, because obviously it's a true crime type thing, is I I was very, I was very curious on why people are so obsessed with true crime. 'cause there is like a fever pitch obsession with it, you know, and podcasts and things of that nature, television shows. I was wondering like, why do people, why are people so obsessed? 'cause I'm like, I, I was never, I was only obsessed with doing something positive with my story.
Collier Landry: And somebody said to me recently on my show, they said, Collier, you know, you're, you're looking at it in, in the wrong way. A lot of people listen to True crime because they want to hear of someone else getting justice. And it's not the people that reach out to you whose lives are impacting, it's the people you never hear from. Because some people look at your story and go, that guy got justice for his mother. That guy survived. That guy did something for his mom. So I find hope and solace in that, even though I can't,
Dr. Robin Stern: Beautiful note to leave us on. I, I think that's beautiful. And, and I thank you so much for sharing your story in such an open way. And I can only imagine that people listening, um, are taking important meaning from this for their own lives and hope for the future. And those people who have lived trauma and lived abusive relationships and watched crime happening around them in their own home, in their neighborhoods, and been victims or witnesses, um, making meaning out of it and being of service to others with a strong support network is a hopeful path to follow. So I thank you very much, Collier.
Collier Landry: You're welcome. Thank you for having me, Robin.
Dr. Robin Stern: So Kyle, you're after telling your story, like I know you've told it, told it many, many times, but how are you, I mean, is it, is it still cathartic for you? Uh, how does it feel? Is it helpful for you to know that you're reaching people at this moment, that people are listening to you and thinking, wow, like maybe I could do that. Or maybe it is integrity, or maybe making a choice is making, maybe it is possible.
Collier Landry: Y yeah, I mean, that's, that is ultimately the, the whole purpose of doing this is to share and to, to inspire and to build a life around it, you know, to build a brand around it, to build a community around it, of people that find this information useful. You know, growing up it was, it's interesting because, you know, I, I obviously grew up without the, you know, the internet wasn't the internet, social media, all those things. I, I, I shudder to think if this had happened in this day and age, what it would've turned into. But, uh, the fiasco of the trial, because it was like, you know, you, you know, it was big, big deal. And, uh, you know, it was covered all over the country and it was, it was a big deal, but, and then this kid who's at the center of it, right at the eye of the storm.
Collier Landry: But yeah, sharing the story and doing what I'm doing now is ultimately the most rewarding thing, you know, and I've always been an artist. I went to music school, I then moved to Los Angeles with, you know, a couple grand in my pocket and said, okay, I'm gonna figure out, because one of the things that I always wanted to do is I didn't want the story to lead me into a room. You know, I, that was an, that was the thing with my journey, is that I'm gonna go to a place where nobody knows who I am and be able to tell my story on my own terms. And that's what I ultimately did and continue to do and continue to share. I mean, there's so much that I can continue to share just about my own personal story, but also to inspire and, and help others. And, and, you know, like I said, I've done a Ted talk about this. I, you know, I travel, I'm starting to travel again to speak, which is great. Um, you know, but sharing the podcast was always something that I wanted to do. I wish I had done it a decade ago, but, you know,
Dr. Robin Stern: Doing it now, and
Collier Landry: Yeah, I mean, I just hit number 32 on the chart, so it was great. But
Dr. Robin Stern: It's pretty amazing.
Collier Landry: It's a cool thing.
Dr. Robin Stern: It's a very important thing, not just a cool thing. And, um, wonderful that you're able to use all of your personal gifts to get your story out. Being an artist and, um, you know, having and having the spirit of your mom with you as well, and being able to get justice for her,
Collier Landry: It get, it means that she wasn't, you know, her death wasn't in vain.
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, and she's joining you in, in helping everyone who's taking something away from, from this podcast and everything else you do. So thank you.
Collier Landry: You're most certainly welcome.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thanks for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of the Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please leave a rating and a review. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is produced by Mel Yellen, Ryan Changcoco, Mike Lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Gabby Caoagas and Salar Korangi, all of my work and my upcoming book is supported by Suzen Pettit, Marcus Estevez and Omaginarium, also by Sally McCarton and Jackie Daniels. I'm so grateful to have many people supporting me and especially grateful for all of you my listeners.