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“I have forgiven Paris for what he did, but it’s an ongoing process,” explains Lee.“If he was free [from captivity], I would be frightened of him.This followed more than a decade of sobriety for Lee. “The only regret I’ve ever had about my own personal behavior is my relapse,” says Lee, who has not abused narcotics since Ella’s death.“The fact is, it made him angry and he chose to handle it that way [by killing Ella].“If Paris wasn’t in prison or was able to meet Phoenix, I would have to do a lot more soul-searching.” Mercifully, the soul-searching is helping Lee cope with the devastating loss of Ella, whom she describes as “extroverted, very outspoken and very smart.” Butterflies became Ella’s symbol after her preschool teachers gave her mother a remarkable picture she had painted of the insect.A friend also found a butterfly brooch in Lee’s back yard on the day she finally returned to the house where the murder took place.But, if he left me alive [without Ella], I would suffer for the rest of my life.” One of Paris’ motives was punishing his mother.A former heroin addict who kicked drugs shortly before conceiving her son, she’d briefly relapsed on cocaine when he was 12 and Ella was 3.
He proceeded to beat and choke his little sister and stab her 17 times.“But people often have one opinion at first, and then change it once they’ve talked to me and offer compassion.” The 44-year-old’s powerful story of grief, love, fear and forgiveness is featured in the documentary “The Family I Had,” airing on Investigation Discovery at 9 p.m. A prison rights activist, she keeps Ella’s memory alive while frequently visiting her now-24-year-old son in jail.He is serving a 40-year sentence (the maximum in Texas for a juvenile for murder) and will be eligible for parole in 2027.“And I was saying, ‘You need to take me to Ella now,’ and they were like, ‘You can’t go …she’s dead.’ “And that made no sense, because I knew that I’d left her at home with a baby sitter and her brother, so I said, ‘Is my son OK? That’s when everything stopped making sense.” Sometime around 10 p.m., Paris, an unusually gifted child with an IQ of 141, had convinced the baby sitter she could go home.