"Daralee was mad and she fucking hit me with a kitchen knife," says Patterson. "Look, it's right here." He's standing shirtless in the finished basement of their home, taking a break from his Xbox to show me a thin four-inch white scar trailing from his right armpit down his side. "I'm not lying," he adds. Georgia had earlier recounted that after the stabbing, she had run to her brother's rescue by grabbing a first-aid kit, straddling Patterson to hold him still and, incredibly, sewing up the wound herself. When I ask Patterson about it, however, he reels backward at the suggestion.
"I don't know what the hell she's talking about. I'm not gonna let her stitch me! Are you crazy?" he hollers. Later Georgia insists she's telling the truth, explaining that her brother has repressed parts of their childhood. "He doesn't really remember," she says calmly. "He's real mad about it."
Though many of the painful details of their childhoods are backed up by sworn affidavits from family employees and other records, other stories the twins tell about their lives have a surreal, if not downright implausible, tinge. They talk of their stepmother encouraging them to read a satanic bible, holding Georgia down to inject her with drugs, and serving them meat crawling with maggots, which Patterson can't discuss without dry-heaving. They tell me that while visiting Japan, they witnessed a yakuza torture session; that in Wyoming, they once hid in the trees while drug dealers opened fire on their house; and that during a road trip through Nebraska, their father shot dead a posse of would-be carjackers, after which Walker slid back into the driver's seat, bloodied, lit a cigarette and muttered, "Don't talk."
As fantastical as they sound, these memories are as real to the twins as all the rest. It's as though the Inmans' trauma is so deep that ordinary tales don't describe the horror. Georgia nonchalantly speaks of seeing ghosts hanging by their necks from trees, and of a china doll she once owned turning its head to leer at her. That theatrical quality extends even to some of the twins' happy memories, as when they delightedly recount the time they and their father tranquilized a bobcat, stuffed it into a suitcase, left it by a South Carolina roadside, and watched from hiding as unlucky passers-by opened the case to discover the pissed-off contents – "It jumps out, blood everywhere, and you can hear them screaming," Patterson says while Georgia screeches with laughter – surely that couldn't be true, could it? Other stories are sweeter. When they tell me with pride about the time their father took them to an Eagles concert in Myrtle Beach, and they were brought onstage to sing "Hotel California," I don't have the heart to tell them that no such thing happened; I've already been told by Todd, who accompanied them to the show, that Walker had been so incapacitated that he'd lain semiconscious in the grass until they'd left early.
On the morning of February 25th, 2010, the clerk of a Lakewood, Colorado, Holiday Inn found Walker Patterson Inman Jr. dead on the floor of his hotel room. From the disarray it was evident how Walker had spent his final eight days on Earth: with a butane torch; a water pipe made from a soda bottle; a Ziploc baggie filled with heroin; and prescription meds including an opiate blocker, which, the coroner noted, heroin users often take in the mistaken belief that it counteracts overdoses. The official cause of death was a methadone overdose. His death certificate listed his occupation as "lifetime adventurer."
Without their father in the picture, the custody battle took a bitter new edge. Daralee demanded that the twins call her "Mom," and forbade them from attending Walker's burial in South Carolina, warning the kids that Daisha would be there to scoop them up. In August 2010, Daisha arrived at Outlaw Acres with a court order, a fleet of police cars and two ambulances to claim her children. Georgia threw rocks at her mother's windshield, screaming, "Fuck you, Daisha," while, Patterson says, Daralee instructed him to get his gun and shoot Daisha. After an hourlong standoff, the kids grudgingly surrendered. Marching past Daisha in the driveway, Georgia kicked her mother hard in the shin, a gesture her father would have appreciated. Then the twins were loaded into an ambulance for the six-hour drive to a children's psychiatric facility, where they would be institutionalized for the next three months.
"My brother's really mad now," observes Georgia, seated at the breakfast nook of the Inmans' spacious rental home, morning sunshine pouring in the wraparound windows. It's a Friday before school, for which Georgia is overdressed in a brown Calvin Klein dress, her chin-length golden-brown hair still shower-damp. Behind her, Patterson is pacing with agitation, hands clenched at his sides as he listens to his sister recap their troubled upbringing. "My brother, he has serious issues," Georgia continues. "He can't even recall whether our father ever said he loved him. But yet he likes to say–"
"Wait, wait, wait–" Patterson, in jeans, a black T-shirt and a newsboy cap, interrupts to defend his father. "He's not a bad man," Patterson says of Walker. "He isn't!" Upset, he storms off across the room with Daisha in pursuit to try and comfort him. Daisha, a hyper, distractible woman whose green eyes blink from behind a duck blind of false lashes, has been grateful for her reunion with her kids but also overwhelmed by the parenting needs of two emotionally disturbed teenagers. She tries to keep them upbeat with cheery slogans posted throughout the house, like the note taped to a bathroom mirror that says "Anger is for losers and we are winners"; or the framed sign over the fireplace where Patterson and Daisha are now heatedly arguing, reading, A MOTHER'S HEART IS A SPECIAL PLACE WHERE CHILDREN HAVE A HOME. At the table, Georgia tries to keep her composure despite the rising voices in the background, then loses it.
"Rainbows and butterflies!" she yells viciously at her mother and brother, her own taunting affirmation.
The past three years have been a struggle for the twins as they've grappled with their past. Before they were able to live with Daisha, they were sent to the Wyoming Behavioral Institute. The twins were suicidal, uncooperative and dangerously underweight. Therapist Jennifer Greenup had never seen such extreme emotional deprivation before. "If even a quarter of what they said happened to them happened, they are severely traumatized children," says Greenup, adding, "Their symptoms are real. Whether it's paranoia, lack of trust or hostility." Eventually the kids were able to move in with Daisha and began bonding, a triumph unto itself. But although they've taken positive steps, Greenup says the scale of their trauma is so great that she can't gauge their progress: "I can't say they're progressing well, because there's nothing to compare it to," she admits.
Seeking security while they work on their issues, Georgia and Patterson have retreated into familiar isolation. They're enrolled in ninth grade at a special private school that provides one-on-one tutoring, which is getting them caught up to grade level, but have limited real-world contact with other kids. When not at school they're hiding here at the house, where Patterson plays Grand Theft Auto with an online crew called Reapers MC. Georgia, though the more outgoing of the pair, is even more cautious. "I don't think I'm ready for friendship yet," she says heavily; she feels ill-equipped for the vagaries of teenage drama when all she really wants is to extend for a little longer a childhood she never fully had. The twins still believe in Santa Claus. They wrote him letters last year; Patterson's poignant note, his scrawl as sloppy as a first-grader's, read, "Dear Santa I know I havn't been good But if you do come all I want is to say hi to you in person." The kids insist that not only did Saint Nick reward them with gifts – "I mean, explain to me how three huge bags get into a house basement!" argues Georgia – but that they actually saw him. Georgia has also glimpsed another unlikely person lately: her father, who has appeared to her since his death. In fact, she says in a hushed voice, "I think he's here." She indicates the empty chair beside her at the breakfast table.
The twins clearly have a lot of healing to do. Though they're now in therapy, the banks that control their trust funds had at one time claimed that the children hadn't demonstrated the need for mental-health help. It's a bone of contention in one of the two financial struggles that currently dominate the kids' lives. Because they were minors when their father died, any disbursements from the trusts they inherited must be approved by the banks that oversee them. They need to provide receipts for every penny spent, and most requests for funds require prior bank authorization, a cumbersome process that leads to e-mails like this one from a JP Morgan vice president: "I received your email regarding Patterson's kickboxing, and will advise you on that request after we have had a chance to review with the Committee." Such bureaucracy resulted in the kids being temporarily suspended from school – which costs up to $20,000 a month – for nonpayment.
"Those damn trustees!" fumes Daisha. "They had no oversight when Walker was alive, and they funded two severe drug addicts and let them run amok," yet the banks subject her to what she sees as unreasonable scrutiny. For example, when she and the kids moved from a converted church in South Carolina to Park City without warning last fall, she was outraged that trustees insisted upon ousting the family from their $120,000-a-month St. Regis Hotel suite. "We were forced into the only house available!" Daisha shrieks, referring to their current $20,000-a-month spread. "Between ski season and Sundance, we were almost on the street!"
JP Morgan and Citibank declined to comment, but in documents filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court, JP Morgan has argued it needed to be vigilant in protecting the kids' money, because since Walker's death it has been bombarded with outrageous financial requests from Daralee, who asked for $1.9 million; from Walker's attorney, who wanted "unlimited funding" in connection with his role as a trustee of Walker's estate; and from Daisha, who asked for a lump sum of more than $430,500. She later asked for $50,000 to buy the kids' Christmas gifts and a trip around the world. Unhappy wasting money on rental properties, Daisha also recently looked into buying a $29 million ranch, which she claims could be had for a mere $15 million: "What's that to the children, seven and a half million apiece, cut and dried?" she scoffs. But JP Morgan nixed the request as expensive enough to decimate the trust. Because for all the family gossip about Walker's riches, it appears there may be very little left of the family fortune: According to sources, the children stand to inherit not a billion-dollar trust, but a comparatively paltry $60 million.
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