A father’s failure: How 1 ruined life became 2

18 10 2007


Posted on Wed, Oct. 17, 2007

A father’s failure: How 1 ruined life became 2
Jill Porter |

LAWRENCE DUGAN Sr. sits with his arms folded on a table in the visitor’s center of Delaware County Prison – until he gets to the critical moment in his story.

Then he lifts both arms over his head, clasps his hands together, one palm clenched around the other – and demonstrates how he held a knife in the air before plunging it into his son’s chest.

“I hit him so hard,” he said quietly.

“I could feel it. I could hear it, the squishing. It was the sickest thing.”

Dugan, 52, has been in prison since Aug. 29, when he attempted to kill his son, a heroin addict who’d tormented him for years with his abusive and depraved behavior. Lawrence Dugan Jr., 25, who police said has a long and violent criminal history, survived.

Dugan is being held on $500,000 bail, waiting for the court to appoint a lawyer to represent him.

I’m here to talk with Dugan because I’m morbidly fascinated. What, I wonder, could drive someone to such a desperate act?

He’s a man who has worked his whole life – 65 hours a week at a pizza parlor after his father died when he was a teen, he said; more than 30 years at the U.S. Postal Service, supervising two dozen workers in his last job at the main post office.

“I loved working; I’d like to go back to work,” he said.

The hardworking employee-turned-attempted murderer? How does it happen?

So many families suffer with defiant, troubled and sick children. How does it get to the point of attempting to resolve it with a six-inch fishing knife?

“I wasted my whole life on that kid – that’s how I feel,” Dugan told me, speaking evenly, his rheumy blue eyes glancing away.

His son was a one-time gymnast, choirboy and gifted student who was transformed into a “demon” as a teen, he said. He became a truant and then a drop-out, an abusive addict who made life at home unbearable…

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