The Darkness of Riches: Born Billionaires but Starved, Neglected and Locked in a Basement
January 30, 2014
In an exclusive interview, 16-year-old twins Georgia and Patterson Inman, who, at 21, will reportedly inherit $1 billion as the only living heirs of the Duke tobacco fortune, open up to Dr. Phil about the abuse they claim they suffered for more than a decade. The twins were born into a family of prestige and extreme wealth -- vacationing on the beaches of Fiji, having wild animals as pets and bringing diamonds to school for show-and-tell — but say their lives have been anything but privileged. After their parents divorced and their father, Walker Inman Jr., won custody, they claim they lived each day in a state of pure terror -- burned with boiling water, forced to live in a feces-filled basement and held prisoner behind dead-bolted doors. How do they say they survived years of alleged torture? Their father, whom they claim abused drugs, died of an overdose in 2010, and the teens were reunited with their mother, with whom they now live. How are their lives now? And, what are their dreams for the future? Plus, hear why the teens say they are survivors who are fighting for justice against those who they say harmed them.
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Haunted by Their PastSixteen-year-old twins Georgia and Patterson Inman are the sole heirs to the Duke tobacco fortune, left to them by their late father, Walker Inman, Jr., nephew of Doris Duke, who was once dubbed the “Richest Little Girl in the World.” Although they are two of the richest teenagers in America, the siblings say they consider their inheritance blood money. For years, they say they lived a secret, hellish life filled with brutality, imprisonment and starvation — at the hands of their father and some of their more than 50 nannies.
Dr. Phil asks Georgia, "What was it like, physically, in your house? If I walked in the front door during these times? What did it look like in there?”
“It smelled horrible,” she says, noting that the house was dirty. “Imagine putting a bunch of different chemicals together and having it soak through the walls.”
“Describe the food you ate,” Dr. Phil says.
“It’s really gross. It’s stale,” she says. “And we had rats in our pantry. That’s why I didn’t eat anymore.”
“Where was your dad when this was going on?” Dr. Phil asks.
“My dad was never home, and if he was, he was always locked up in his bedroom, smoking meth,” she says. “I watched my dad overdose, like, six times. He was helpless. He couldn’t help us, even if his life depended on it.”
Georgia remembers one occasion when she says her hands and feet were tied up by a nanny. “I had duct tape put over my mouth and nose. I couldn’t breathe,” she says. “I remember crying and screaming for somebody, but she’d tell me to shut up, and she’d hit me upside the head really hard.” Georgia also says that a nanny made her lick her own vomit off the floor.
“You were thrown down a flight of stairs,” Dr. Phil says.
“That’s not even the worst,” Georgia replies, shaking her head. “There’s so much more. I get flashbacks.” She recalls being tied up and stuck in tires in the basement, where they couldn’t get out. “We were sitting on cement floors. It was freezing. It was the middle of winter,” Georgia says.
“Tell me about the boiling bathtub,” Dr. Phil says.
“We got placed in hot water,” she says. “I thought my skin was, literally, melting away. It feels like you’re on fire.”
“Was there a point at which you knew this isn’t the way everybody else lives?” Dr. Phil asks.
“No. I kind of just thought it was normal,” she says. “I was just hoping to God that he would just take me. I really didn’t see the point. I didn’t see it.”
"I am a Survivor"Georgia's twin brother, Patterson, says that he is haunted by his past and can't erase the horrors from his mind. Yet, he seems to be conflicted about blaming his father, because of the many fond memories he has of their extravagant adventures.
"It was only after I introduced the concept that you can still love a person but not love certain behaviors or choices they made, did Patterson give himself permission to really speak candidly about the bad side of a good man, when he was speaking of his father," Dr. Phil says.
Dr. Phil sits down with Patterson to hear his perspective on his childhood.
“Why would he let you be around things like that?” Dr. Phil asks.
“He loved explosives,” Patterson says. “He was a smart guy. He was really good with math and science. We did all kinds of things — blow stuff up, shoot guns — it was really fun for me.”
Dr. Phil asks Patterson how he feels when he thinks about that time.
“I would just like them put in a body bag,” he replies.
“Despite what happened, despite what you went through, you’re still here,” Dr. Phil says.
“I’m a survivor,” Patterson says. “I don’t want to be a victim; I want to be a victor.”
“You are,” Dr. Phil tells him. “The only way they have a chance to get away with this is if y’all had remained silent, and by having the courage to stand up and say, ‘Here’s what happened, and by God, it wasn’t right,’ that’s how they don’t get away with it. That’s how none of them get away with it. You telling the truth — that’s their worst nightmare.”
“I understand that now,” she says.
“There wasn’t anything you could do that justified what was done to you,” Dr. Phil reiterates. “You were an innocent party in an evil trap.”
Dr. Phil points out to Georgia and Patterson that the world saw the glamorous side to their life — The teens traveled on private jets and sailed around the world; they had a lion, a camel and a chimpanzee as pets; and they took diamonds and other valuables for show-and-tell at school. “You understand the contrast,” Dr. Phil says, “You’re taking diamonds to school for show-and-tell, and nobody knows that you’re locked in a room for days at a time.”
“They see this luxurious life, but at the same time, a living hell,” Patterson says.