After the Televised Murder Trial, Stacey M. Kananen’s Book Hits the Shelves

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The story of an Orlando woman, Stacey M. Kananen, whose murder trial aired on CNN’s In Session, will be told when her "true crime" book—Fear of our Father-The True Story of Abuse, Murder and Family Ties—becomes available on June 4, 2013. Kananen was found not guilty of her mother’s murder in 2010 after her brother, who pleaded guilty to killing both parents and burying their bodies, implicated her.

Stacey M. Kananen’s "true crime" story began decades ago when her father, Richard Kananen, Sr., chose to violently and sexually abuse his wife and their three children. He vanished in 1988, when Stacey was 22, and no one reported his disappearance. In 2003, his wife Marilyn went missing and police charged Stacey’s brother, Richard Jr., with murdering them both, fifteen years apart, and burying their bodies—one under Marilyn’s garage floor, and the other in Stacey’s back yard. (Orange County Criminal Court, Cases 2003-CF-016189-A-O and 2003-CF-016011-A-O, State of Florida vs. Kananen, Richard)

Stacey was scheduled to testify against her brother as a witness for the State, until he agreed to a plea bargain in 2007, on the eve of his trial. He then told police that Stacey helped him murder their mother. She was arrested days later at a Pasco County, Florida nudist resort, where she and her domestic partner, Susan Cowan, had moved shortly after Marilyn Kananen’s body was found in their yard. Cowan’s mother owned the resort, and offered them employment and a new place to live.

Because of its sensational nature, the story of her arrest and subsequent murder trial made national headlines. Her two-week trial—which ended in a Not Guilty verdict—aired on CNN’s In Session. (Orange County Criminal Court, Case No. 2007-CF-006901-A-O, State of Florida vs. Kananen, Stacey)

Fear of our Father ( is co-authored by Lisa Bonnice, a former writer for Bonnice lived at the nudist resort when Kananen arrived in 2004, and witnessed the story as it unfolded. She attended the Orlando trial and began co-authoring the book, at Kananen’s request, in late 2010.

The Kananen family’s story was explored on an Investigation Discovery series, Catch My Killer, in March, 2013. Stacey Kananen was also featured in an Emmy-nominated BBC documentary, America’s Child Death Shame, by reporter Natalia Antelava (

Marti Rulli, Author of Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour—the book that caused the Natalie Wood death investigation to be reopened—says about Kananen's book, “If ever a story existed to change your conviction that there’s no such thing as justifiable murder, Fear of Our Father is it.”

Kananen intends that a portion of the proceeds from books sales go toward the creation of a new kind of holistic advocacy program, the Spectrum of Light Transformation Center ( “Even at a young age I would dream of a way to help abused children, while desperately wishing someone could help me and my family,” Kananen states, “I want to help abusers who truly want to be different. Many people say that abusers belong behind bars and, if they are anything like my father, I agree. However, some people don’t want to abuse others but that is all they know. For them to have a nonjudgmental opportunity to change is tantamount to ending the cycle of abuse.”

Fear of our Father (Berkley Books)
True Crime
ISBN 9780425258736
384 pages
04 Jun 2013

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