The Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of America's Most Wanted

The Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of America's Most Wanted

by Chip St. Clair

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Overview

There is for all of us a profound Moment of Truth that lies in wait—a moment that transfixes our attention and forces us to confront the essential question in life: Who am I?

For Chip St. Clair that moment came when he learned that the man he called “Dad” was an impostor—a child killer who had been on the run for nearly three decades.

After turning his father in on a cold January night in 1998, St. Clair embarked on a quest for his true identity, a journey that began when he opened a nondescript black trunk: Inside he found his birth certificate—typed over and forged. His “date of birth”? The same day his father had killed a child five years earlier. Along with that, more “answers” that spawned more questions: photographs of young children he didn’t know; locks of hair; a jewelry box full of baby teeth; and records of tens of thousands of dollars in loans taken out by his parents in his name. While forensic tests and DNA proved the answer to the most important question—was he the biological son of a convicted child killer?—the rest of the mysteries may never be solved.

What St. Clair discovered as he tried to unravel the swath of lies his “parents” had woven across at least seven states is something that all of us can learn from: Oftentimes the answers we seek are within us and the only path to fulfillment is to make peace with the unknown.
His eventual epiphany, which took place in a butterfly garden, freed him to leave his haunted past behind and to construct a future full of light and hope. Most important, he learned that our fate, our path in life, is not determined by demons of the past or by DNA, but the power of our own free will and what we hold in our hearts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757398070
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 223,549
File size: 567 KB

About the Author

Chip St. Clair is a recipient of a U.S. Congressional Record for his work helping to keep abused children safe and to keep predators behind bars. He began sharing his story nationally in 2002, having been featured on major television programs such as Dateline, Good Morning America, and the John Walsh Show. Most recently, St. Clair helped to pass Michigan's, Montana's, and Maryland's versions of Jessica's Law.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter
1
The Truth Shall
Set You Free

I never thought I would see a prison in real life, much less visit one. Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, 'Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.'

'You're here for offender #37670,' the guard confirmed, leading us down a narrow, dimly lit hallway.
'Yeah,' I whispered, my voice echoing loudly in the cramped corridor.

'That's a real old number,' he remarked. 'You don't see too many that old. He sure has been gone a long time. All those years and you didn't even know?'
'No,' I stammered, watching him turn a corner ahead. 'It was only about a year ago when I found out . . . who he really was. What he had done. That's why I turned him in.'

I glanced back at my fiancée Lisa and her father, grateful for their support. I was preparing to confront my father for the first time in my life to hold him accountable for all he had done to me. He had paralyzed me with fear, intimidation, and ridicule. He had tried to break me, day after day, year after year, imprisoning me with lies and deceit.

'Well, good luck,' the guard said. Then he tipped his hat and motioned us into the large room where I would testify before the parole board.
Lisa reached out and squeezed my hand. Her father, Richard, grasped my shoulder warmly.

'You'll do fine,' he assured me.

As I took a seat, I flipped through my black leather attaché case, trying to better organize my thoughts in anticipation of my testimony. There were miscellaneous documents, pictures of children, police reports, military records—all riddled with lies. I paused when I came across a small, pale-green sheet of paper, a birth certificate issued by the state of Indiana. I held it up toward the fluorescent light glaring above me, to be sure that the parole board could see through this particular lie. There it was, Chip Anthony St. Clair—along with all the other information on the sheet—typed over, forged. Even the birth date, August 1, 1975, was a lie.

I sighed and fished out the one piece of truth within the attaché case—a small, thin, blue book of poetry called One Hundred and One Famous Poems. This book represented my hope as a child, tucked away deep inside me. The comfort of its words had rescued me on more than one occasion, and I was going to call upon them today to rescue me once again.

The three of us sat quietly in the room until the parole board members finally filed in. Each of them carried a folder and wore an unreadable expression. I listened intently as they talked amongst themselves, trying to draw some conclusion as to what they were thinking and what they might think of me.

'So, this is his son that is going to speak?' one member asked.

'Well, that's not certain, but he grew up with him all those years,' another whispered.
'Wasn't he convicted of second-degree murder . . . 1973?' mumbled a third.
'Yes, voluntary manslaughter,' said a gray-haired man, glancing up at me.

They abruptly silenced themselves and took their places behind the desk. A gold nameplate identified each member. After clearing his throat, the head of the parole board called my name.

I rose from my chair and stepped toward the small table positioned before them. Steadying a shaky hand on the back of the chair, I pulled it out and sat down.
'Whenever you're ready,' boomed the voice ahead of me.

With seven intense pairs of eyes watching me, I began to speak.

'My name is Chip St. Clair. I want to tell you about my life with Michael Grant .

 

©2008. Chip St. Clair. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Butterfly Garden. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

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Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of America's Most Wanted 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of true crime like i am then you should read this book - i couldn't put it down!
missysbooknook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is unfathomable the hell that Chip St. Clair went through growing up. With each passing chapter I was more horrified. The only good to come of this was that Michael Grant was put back behind bars where he belonged. Chip's entire childhood was a farce. He and his parents moved around a lot, sometimes leaving places in the middle of the night. Chip was punished for the littlest things.....a throw pillow out of place, a dirty sock left on the floor. He endured his abuse up until his teenage years. At that point, he knew that he had to get away and somehow find out about his past. He meets his soul mate, Lisa, and the two of them begin uncovering secrets that would shock not only themselves, but local law enforcement and eventually the nation.Chip tells his story with honesty and emotion. He finally becomes the person that he has always wanted to be. Like a butterfly that has been in a cocoon, he emerges strong and free with his loving wife beside him, ready to share his story with everyone, hoping to keep children everywhere safe from abuse.
ritakhavich on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An incredible story. You really feel for Chip, going through the nightmarish childhood he had and re-telling/re-living it in the pages of The Butterfly Garden. I found the book accidentally, but I'm so glad I kept reading. It was sad, heart-wrenching in fact, but so worth the read. Definitely a highly recommended book for everyone! (Well not children)
laurie_library on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The overriding sense of living a life filled with fear, jumped off the pages.
elbakerone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Butterfly Garden is a heart-wrenching memoir of author Chip St. Clair's childhood with an abusive father, who Chip later discovers was wanted for murder and thus, put his family on the run for years. The simple style and scope of this book only adds to the power of the text and the message of survival that St. Clair conveys. Though the subject matter was difficult to digest, I found myself riveted by the narrative in this book. As a young boy, Chip found solace in art and literature and some of the poems and quotes that helped him cope with his shattered life are included in the book adding depth and insight to the memories. Ultimately, St. Clair's story is one of victory and the tale of his metamorphosis - and the powerful analogy of the titular Butterfly Garden - makes this book a powerful and amazing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great
VaneNyx More than 1 year ago
The Butterfly garden was all together a nice book. It was a story that one could take to heart and open someone’s eyes to what is happening in our country. I would give it a score of three stars out of five. Personally I love stories that are based on real life, they speak to me. This particular book had me confused at many parts. The story jumped around in the timeline. I would have much rather had it follow the authors life in order of what had happened. Also I am someone who enjoys the details and there was a lack of them in this book, but it is understandable why. I did enjoy how he spoke of his memories and how his experiences still affect his life today. This is a wonderful book and I would suggest it to people who are new to memoirs, love hard hitting situations, or can relate to the author’s abuse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly an amazing story. Totally outstanding how anyone could rise above this is. Life does move forward and we can overcome the toughest obstacles in our lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, another that I passed down to my teenage kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chip St. Clair's story of childhood abuse is heart gripping and deep. His inspirational story has won readers hearts everywhere. This memoir makes you realize that you don't really know what happens behind closed doors until you're there to experience it. This is a 'must read' book and I strongly recommend it.