Who was Catherine Roerva?
Catherine Roerva was the mother of Dave Pelzer, the author of the bestselling memoir A Child Called It, which chronicles his horrific abuse at the hands of his mother from the age of four to twelve. Catherine Roerva was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 17, 1929, and married Stephen Joseph Pelzer, a firefighter, in 1952. They had five sons: Stephen, David, Richard, Ronald, and Kevin. Catherine Roerva was described as a beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic woman who enjoyed reading, gardening, and cooking. However, she also had a dark side: she was an alcoholic, a compulsive liar, and a sadistic abuser.
How did Catherine Roerva abuse Dave Pelzer?
Catherine Roerva singled out Dave Pelzer as the target of her abuse, while treating her other sons and husband with kindness and affection. She subjected Dave to unimaginable torture, such as:
- Starving him for days and forcing him to steal food from school or garbage cans.
- Beating him with belts, brooms, knives, and other objects.
- Burning his arm over a gas stove and making him sleep in the garage without blankets.
- Making him wear the same clothes for months and not allowing him to bathe or brush his teeth.
- Forcing him to swallow ammonia, bleach, soap, and his own vomit.
- Locking him in the bathroom with a bucket of Clorox and ordering him to breathe the fumes.
- Playing twisted games with him, such as making him stand in front of a mirror and repeat “I’m a bad boy” or making him search for a missing object while threatening to kill him.
Catherine Roerva also isolated Dave from his family and the outside world, calling him “it” or “the boy” and forbidding him to speak or play with anyone. She manipulated her husband and other sons into believing that Dave was a bad and disobedient child who deserved to be punished. She also lied to the teachers and social workers who suspected that Dave was being abused, convincing them that he was a troublemaker and a liar.
Why did Catherine Roerva abuse Dave Pelzer?
The exact reason why Catherine Roerva abused Dave Pelzer is unknown, as she never admitted or explained her actions. Dave Pelzer himself speculated that she might have suffered from mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or that she might have been influenced by her own abusive childhood. He also suggested that she might have resented him for being the firstborn son, or that she might have been jealous of his bond with his father. However, none of these theories can fully account for the extent and duration of her abuse, which seemed to have no rational motive or trigger.
How did Dave Pelzer escape from Catherine Roerva’s abuse?
Dave Pelzer escaped from Catherine Roerva’s abuse when he was twelve years old, thanks to the intervention of his teachers and the police. On March 5, 1973, Dave was called to the principal’s office, where he was met by a police officer who told him that he was free and that he did not have to go back to his mother. Dave was taken to a foster home, where he began his long journey of healing and recovery. He later joined the Air Force, married, had a son, and became a successful author and motivational speaker.
How did Catherine Roerva die?
Catherine Roerva died on January 6, 1992, at the age of 62, in The cause of her death was not publicly announced, but according to some sources, she died of a heart attack or a stroke. She never reconciled with Dave Pelzer, who did not attend her funeral. However, Dave Pelzer did forgive his mother and said that he hoped that she found peace in death. He also reconnected with his father and brothers, who apologized for not helping him when he was abused. He dedicated his book A Man Named Dave to his father, who died in 1980.