Sims' petition describes how son's life was spared

By Ann Knef | Aug 10, 2006

Paula Sims, age 47.

Paula Sims, serving a life sentence at Dwight Correctional Facility for killing her two infant daughters, will make an appeal for clemency when the Illinois Prisoner Review Board conducts hearings during the week of Oct. 16.

Sims filed a petition last month claiming she no longer poses a risk to society. She suffered from postpartum depression at the time she killed 13-day-old Loralei Marie Sims in 1985 and six-week-old Heather Lee Sims in 1989, Sims claims in her petition.

She also gave birth to a son, Randy, in 1988. He survived his sisters' fate, but at three months of age had a brush with destiny.

"...he was crying and I had tried everything I knew to comfort him," Sims described in her petition. "But nothing was working."

"Before I knew it I snapped and laid him down in the playpen and yelled at him to be quiet and then I threatened him, he quit crying immediately. His eyes got big and he just stared at me. I quickly picked him up held him closer me and told him I was so sorry I didn't mean it.

"I believe it was this sudden adrenaline rush and Randy's reaction along with actually hearing me threaten him which brought me out of postpartum depression/psychosis. Just enough to save Randy from the terrible fate of his sister."

The following is the first part of Sims' petition. Another portion of the transcript will be published next week.

"When I married Robert Sims against the wishes of my parents on May 2, 1981, when I was 21 years old I thought I was taking the first step towards fulfilling my dream of being a good wife and a good mother to two or three children.

"Little did I know that several years later my dreams would become a nightmare that would end in world wide headlines.

"Robert was 29 years old and had been through a bitter divorce and we had only dated 6 months before we married. We had discussed our dreams, we were in love and both wanted the same things out of life.

"When I shared my desire for children, he said that whatever I wanted he wanted. I had already picked out names and saved my childhood dolls and baby clothes, as well as my wedding dress for my daughter to wear when she got married.

"We were blessed with a daughter, I wanted to name her after my grandmother grant, Laura Jane Marie, and if a son his name would be in the memory of my brother Randy who died in a car accident in 1976 at the age of 19.

"I had been a passenger in the car that he was driving. He died instantly. And I had severe head and facial injuries. Needless to say his death was a terrible tragedy to my family, his fiancee his friends and myself.

"In October of 1985 I found out I was pregnant and was very happy. My dreams were coming true however Robert had changed some and not for the better. He was possessive, controlling and at times mentally and verbally abusive.

"I hoped in time and our first child this would change but I was wrong and it only got worse over our nine years of marriage.

After Loralei's birth in 1985:

"Robert immediately left without saying a word or holding her. I was devastated and as I held Loralei for the first time I tried to enjoy her and of course love her but my mind was on her father who had just left upset.

"As soon as I could called him on the phone, he was at our home and said you were supposed to have a boy first. I cried and apologized and said the next time we would have a boy. We had been blessed with a beautiful and healthy girl but that night I couldn't sleep as my mind was racing and I was trying to figure out how I was going to bond Robert with Loralei.

"The next day Robert visited but was quiet and distant. I asked the nurse to please bring our daughter to the room which she kindly did. I tired to bond Loralei and her father and I thought I did a little.

"When Loralei and I went home two days things got worse Robert had forbidden anyone to visit and Loralei and I couldn't leave. I became really depressed and didn't know I was becoming mentally ill with postpartum depression and psychosis.

"I thought everything would be alright and that these bad feelings would pass, but sadly and sorry to say. It was too late. Post partum psychosis had shown itself. During this time until I got to Dwight, I had never heard of postpartum psychosis and didn't know of course what it was, nor did I know much about postpartum depression beyond the fact that I confused it with the baby blues.

"I wish I could turn back the hands of time and be able to stop what had happened. If I had only known what I know now.

"Due to post partum psychosis I had auditory and visual hallucinations. Voices told me to hurt them and said that I was a bad mother. I visualized demons. Dead children and a masked gunman. At times I was kind of normal but those times were fewer and fewer as the days progressed.

"Robert separated himself from Loralei and me except when he tried to tell me how to care for her and told me that I was doing things wrong. I was alone and desperately needed help yet was unable to get any and even if I could have I was ashamed to ask. I really thought the way I was thinking and feeling would pass and everyone and everything would be fine.

"Well sorry to say on June 17, 1986, I did the unthinkable and Loralei died from my placing her in a bathtub full of water and leaving her unattended. I don't remember much of that day or the immediate days that followed except it was a nightmare.

"What remains was a feeling that I was not a good mother and a failure. I believed that everyone hated me. I hallucinated that a masked gunman had taken Loralei from me while my husband was at work. I believed this and when the police arrived this is what I told them.

"Eventually my post partum depression/psychosis stopped as it often does by itself due to postpartum hormonal changes. I still however didn't know what had really happened and was in denial.

"About one year later I was pregnant again but this time Robert was a little supportive and not as controlling. On Feb. 1, 1988, Randall Troy was born by c-section.

"Robert loved him and of course I did too. He said nothing is going to happen to Randy. And I agreed and continued to keep my dark secret I just knew nothing bad was going to happen again.

"Then right after this episode (yelling at Randy) I found out I was pregnant again and Robert was really upset. I tried to be happy and find someone who would be excited with me.

"My father was but my mother wasn't. She said what you are going to do when they both start to cry at the same time. Those words haunted me to get my tubes tied. On March 18, 1989, I gave birth to Heather Lee and then had my tubes tied.

"She was a healthy and beautiful and I thanked God for giving me another cancer. Robert was very unhappy. He had decided that he didn't want anymore children besides Randy but I loved Heather."

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