Reliving the Loss

Private investigator Harold Copus is in Houston, Texas, hot on the trail of Erica's father, Mark.

"Our office has contacted the central parole office for the Houston area," says Harold. "Their records say that Mark is living with his mom and he's on active parole."

Harold knocks at the door of a house and encounters Mark's mother.

"I don't know where he is," she says.

Harold explains that Erica is looking for her father. "Has he lived here recently?" he asks.

 

"He stayed with me, yes," says Mark's mother, "but I don't know where he is now. I'm not talking to you, OK? I wish you would just go away."

Later, Harold offers his impression of the encounter. "This is probably a stonewall," he says, "so what we really have now is a manhunt. We've got to go find this guy."


Harold's next move is to call Mark's parole officer, Officer Walker. When he gets her on the phone, he asks when the last time was that she saw Mark.

Afterward, he reviews what she told him. "The parole officer is very upset with him. When she finds him, he will either go back to a very supervised intensive probation or he'll be sent back to prison until 2031. We also found out that he flunked a drug test, so we have a guy now who has nothing to lose. He's not reporting to his parole officer."

Harold decides to go see Mark's mother again, because he's not convinced she told him everything during their previous conversation. When he gets to the house, instead he finds Mark's sister, Marjorie.

She tells Harold, "I don't know where he is at. I've been calling him for days and days."

Harold asks if Mark has been using drugs, and Marjorie reveals that she believes he's using cocaine. Then she places a call to Mark, but only reaches his answering machine.

"It's your sister," she says into the phone. "You need to call me back. This is very urgent. You need to get a hold of me as soon as you get this message. No hesitation. I mean now!"

Harold asks Marjorie if she has any idea where to find Mark.

"I know the apartments," she tells him, "but I don't know what number, where it's at or anything."

"That's good enough," Harold says. He and Marjorie head off together to Conroe, where Mark lives. They arrive at his apartment complex and begin knocking on doors.

Harold says, "No one's answered the door so I'm just going to have to wait until we see him. It's now a waiting game."

At last, Harold finds himself standing in Mark's doorway.


"I want to know who you are," Mark says. "Get your foot out of the door, now!"

"Listen," Harold pleads, "your probation officer seeks to revoke you right now."

"I already know that. I already know I'm going back."

"I can help you right now, because you sure as the devil don't want to go back into the joint," Harold reasons.

"Maybe I do want to go back to the joint," Mark counters.

"Well, maybe you do, but, you know, at least you can say you found somebody who was trying to help you out."

"What does Dr. Phil have to do with this?" Mark asks.

"Well, Erica didn't know where else to turn," says Harold.

At the mention of Erica's name, Mark explodes. "I don't want to see my daughter," he says. "OK, I killed her ******* mother. I don't want to see my daughter." He tells Harold he's a drug addict. "That's the help I need. You can't help me do that. Nobody can help me. There's no miracle ******* cure for that. I'm a ******* junkie."

"That's the only thing I need help with. And I can't ******* stop doing it. And the only way to stop doing it is to go back in that ******* joint," says Mark.

Harold enters the apartment, but cautiously. "Listen, kid," he says. "I'm going to keep the door open for my safety, OK?"

"I have no weapons in here," says Mark. "[Erica's] not out there, is she?" Both Harold and Marjorie tell him no. "There's nothing I can say," says Mark. "There's nothing I can do. Why she wants to see me, I don't understand that."

 

"You're her father," says Marjorie.


"It doesn't matter. I killed her mother," he responds. "This was my worst ******* nightmare, man. All [that time] in the joint, this was my worst nightmare, that one of those kids would want to see me. You'd never want to know what it feels like to kill another person. You ask me what I've got to say to Erica and [her sister] Rachel, I don't " I have nothing to say. I don't know what to say. The whole thing has got me messed up."

Harold says, "Well, when's the last time you had two people knock on your door on the same day and offer you help? Answer me. Never?"

"I've never had that," says Mark.

"All right, well, now you've got it," Harold assures him.

Mark mulls over the offer. "OK, well now the risk is, I take a chance of meeting Erica and maybe something good coming out of it, maybe not. What if something good does come out of it, and they do send me back to the joint? Now, I just did it again. I just got her back in my life, and now I'm back in the joint. Now I've separated from her twice."

Harold says, "If you've got anything right now, your reaction's got to be, 'Lord, somebody's trying to help me in a big-time way.' So the simple way to get over the whole thing is to say, 'Yes, I'm willing to take that offer.'"

After the meeting, Harold reveals that Mark has asked for Dr. Phil's help to get into rehab and conquer his drug addiction.

Back in the studio, Dr. Phil asks Erica for her reaction to the video of her father.

"Angry and upset," she says, dabbing at her tears.

"Do you understand why I felt it was safer and better for you to see him this way on film rather than bring him here? He's strung out on drugs. And in my opinion, at this point, unless and until he gets his feet on the ground, unless and until he straightens himself out and gets drug-free " which I'm willing to help him to do if you want me to and not if you don't " but unless and until he does that, I don't believe that he is worthy to sit with you and talk with you. I just don't. I think that he's obviously very angry, he's obviously very confused, and this would not be a healthy, happy, constructive reunion in my view because you would be talking to a drug addict. He's either going to have to contact his probation officer, who has agreed to consider working with a rehab that we could set up for him. If not, he's going back in until 2031 for parole violation. Do you think it would be constructive for you to talk to him in that frame of mind?"

"No," says Erica. "He doesn't even seem like he's sorry!" She sobs.

Dr. Phil says, "You said that if he won't sit down with you and talk to you and own up to what he's done that you think he's a coward."

"Right," Erica confirms. "He owes this to me. I think that after 21 years, if he doesn't have the strength to face me and to tell me " I'm his daughter! I'm his blood; I'm his daughter. And he can't even face me and tell me what he's done, face to face, and tell me that he's sorry. And I think that " drugs " that's an excuse. That's an excuse just like the day he killed my mother."

"Let me answer a few things that you've addressed straight up. Is it a betrayal to your mother and her memory and her legacy for you to talk to your dad?

The answer, in my view, is no. It is not at all. What you have to do, and what I know your mother, any parent would want, is for you to do whatever you have to do to be happy, well-adjusted and at peace in your life. And you can't talk to your mother. This man, who is your biological parent, is in this life and is in this world, and you're saying that you need to confront him, you need to ask him hard questions, you need to say things to him that you need to get out, right?"

"Right," says Erica. "Part of me thinks that if I can see him and talk with him that that will be it. And then a part of me says maybe what if one day I want a relationship with him?"

Dr. Phil expresses skepticism. "Yeah," he says. "That's a stretch for me to see that happening, having seen him and knowing what this has done to you. It's a stretch for me to see you two having a relationship in the future, but that's not my decision, it's yours. What I will tell you that I want you to think about is that forgiveness has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with him because if you can forgive him in your heart, that's a gift to you. It's not a gift to him. He doesn't even need to know if you've chosen to forgive him in your heart. I guarantee you his accountability is coming, and it isn't going to be from you or me, but if you continue to be locked in this bond of hatred, and bitterness, and anger and pain with him, then he's essentially controlling your life."

Dr. Phil says Erica should resist being hurt by her father anymore. "And one of the things that can help you do that, in my view, is to talk to him, is to tell him how you feel," he says.

"Tell him. Ask the questions that you need to ask, knowing that there won't be a rational answer because you can't make sense out of nonsense. It is nonsense to get a 12-gauge shotgun, go break into a house, and shoot a woman to death in the front yard. That is nonsense, and you can't make sense out of nonsense, so he's not going to have an answer. Everything he says to you is going to be an excuse. It's going to be a justification or rationalization. But you need to ask the question so you can hear the answer.

"Whatever it is that you need to say that allows you to say, 'OK, I am through with you. I am through with the pain,' then I do think that's what you need to do. And I want you now to tell me, because I am working for you, if you want me to track him down, if you want me to do whatever I can to get him cleaned up, and sobered up, and set him before you, then you tell me that, and I will make every effort I can to bring that to pass."


Erica sees a chance to help her father. She says, "I can't help my mother. I can't help what happened to her, and I can't save her. But I feel that maybe I can save him and help him, because he has a second chance, and he needs to take advantage of that, whether I forgive him or hate him or love him or not, he needs to do it for himself."

Dr. Phil says, "I, frankly, don't give a tinker's damn whether he does or he doesn't. If I get him help with his drugs, I'm not doing it for him. I'm doing it for you, so you can have your moment in time to get closure on this, and if you have more compassion than that, then God bless you for it. But if you want me to find him if I can, clean him up if I can, and set him before you, then that's what I'm going to start doing immediately."

"OK," says Erica.