Family Reunion
Nekka remembers what happened the day she last saw her little brother.


"Do you know how it happened?" Dr. Phil asks the girls.

"He said that he drowned him," Nekka says. She says they haven't seen their father since he was arrested.

"Why do you think he told you to say goodbye to him and to hug him?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Well, what he told us at the park that day was that they were just going to go on a vacation, that this is probably the last time we're going to see him for awhile," Nekka says.

"It just breaks my heart that he did that during a time he was around you guys. It breaks my heart that he did it at all. Do you ever think that you should've stayed, or there is something you could've done?" Dr. Phil asks.

"That whole day, me and my sister, we kept thinking we should've said to actually go there, to actually go to where he was," Nekka says.

[AD]"Any questions you have for me?" he asks.

"When you heard our story, what did you think?" Nekka asks.

"Your dad has plead guilty, right?"

"Mm-hm," she says.

"And Kimmy was walking to the store and was abducted," Dr. Phil says. "I don't know. What do you think? Do you think he had something to do with her disappearance?"

Nekka nods. "Yeah, because if he was able to do it to my brother, I think he probably did something to her too," she says.

 

Dr. Phil gives Nekka and Marissa a tour of the studio, so they will be comfortable onstage when the show tapes. After showing them the stage, he tells them, "I really, really hope " and I will say this in front of your mom " I said I thought it was terrible that what happened with Degan happened on a day that you guys were around. I really hope you know that at 10 and 11 years old, there's nothing you could've done to alter the course of events," he says. "I mean, you get that, don't you? I don't want you thinking you should've done this or should've done that, because that's asking too much if you're 10-year-old kids, for God's sake. I hope you all know that. I just want to get that said." 

Dr. Frank Lawlis is the chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board, and the author of the book Mending the Broken Bond.

Dr. Lawlis agrees with Dr. Phil that Nekka and Marissa don't appear to have any warning signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or any negative consequences from being present the day their little brother was killed by their father.

 

[AD]However, Dr. Phil explains to Becky and John, "There can be trigger events as these girls hit different developmental stages in their life that could bring some of this back to the forefront, and so we have to be mindful and watchful of that."

Dr. Lawlis agrees. "That's absolutely right, especially if they get involved in some very high-stress situation that reminds them of this childhood experience." Dr. Lawlis says a trigger event might happen when they begin to date or get into an intense relationship.

After an eight-year absence, John and Kindra finally saw the girls for a brief period of time when Mike was arrested for Degan's death. It's been more than three years since. Nekka and Marissa smile big when they join their grandfather and aunt onstage. They all tearfully embrace.

"I just can't believe how big they are," Kindra tells Dr. Phil, wiping her eyes. "And so pretty."

"You guys went a long time without seeing your grandfather, and without seeing your aunt as well. How do you feel about these guys? Is this a relationship you would like to have?" Dr Phil asks, pointing out that John and Kindra are their connection to their biological mother. "What's your thought about all that?"

"I love them both," Nekka says.

"And you're happy to have a relationship with both of these guys?"

"Oh, yeah," she says. "Because they're family too."

Marissa just smiles.

"She's the quiet one," Dr. Phil says. "Are you glad to see your grandfather and aunt?"

"Yeah," Marissa says. "It's been a long time since I've seen them."

Dr. Phil asks John, "What do you hope to have in relationships with these girls?"

"An occasional phone call every now and then would be great," John says, moved to tears. "Some vacations. Just some together time. Good times."

Dr. Phil jokes with the girls, "See, grandparents have a mission in life and that's to spoil their grandkids. So this could work out really well for you."

They laugh.

"I think it would be really good for your history across time to have this connection here," Dr. Phil says. "Do you talk about this much with your mom?" he asks Nekka.

"I talk about him a lot," Nekka says, about Degan, "but it hurts to talk about him still."

[AD]Dr. Phil reminds the girls to give Becky a hug from time to time, even if they have trouble talking about the things that make them sad. He acknowledges the great job Becky has done in raising the girls. "It seems like the three of y'all are working this out really well. I think you're really blessed in that regard. We're proud to have met y'all and proud to know you," he says.