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The Celebratory Song the Children Behind Abusive Mom's Scathing Obituary Sang When She Died


"Ding dong the witch is dead."

The obituary for Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal and online before being removed. (Image: KRNV video screenshot)

An unusual obituary written by children glad their abusive mother had died went viral this week. Now, the back story from the children has emerged, detailing why they would pen such a scathing death notice.

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick The obituary for Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal and online before being removed. (Image: KRNV video screenshot)

Patrick Reddick said he has had phone calls from "all over the world" regarding his mother's obituary, which has spread nationwide after first being published in the Reno Gazette-Journal Tuesday.

"Everything in there was completely true," the man from Minden, Nevada, told The Associated Press Thursday, describing Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick as a "wicked, wicked witch." ''The main purpose for putting it in there was to bring awareness to the child abuse. And shame her a little bit."

Patrick Reddick told the Daily Mail he sang "ding dong the witch is dead" after learning of his mother's passing.

"On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children," the obituary said.

Patrick Reddick, 58, said he last saw his mother more than three decades ago.

Reddick and his sister, Katherine Reddick, now 57, testified before the 1987 Legislature on bills to make courts give equal consideration to the best interest of a child when terminating parental rights.

Former state Sen. Sue Wagner, who authored the legislation that ultimately was signed into law, remembers meeting with them at the time. She told KOLO-TV in Reno that it was one of the reasons Nevada became one of few states to address the issue at the time.

Here's KOLO's report on the controversial obituary:

Six of Johnson-Reddick's eight children were admitted to the Nevada Children's Home from 1963 to 1964 after they endured regular beatings, sometimes with a metal-tipped belt, and other abuse at the hands of their mother, Patrick Reddick said.

One of the Johnson-Reddick's children, who declined to be named, told the Daily Mail her brother and sister protected her from their mother.

"They saved my life and I owe them my life," the unnamed person said.

The Daily Mail reported Patrick Reddick saying his mother ran a prostitution business. Johnson-Reddick also apparently worked as a paralegal and handled mail for companies that would technically base themselves in Nevada for tax purposes.

Not everyone who had dealings with Johnson-Reddick thought her cruel though, according to the Daily Mail's findings:

Retired physics professor Richard Valentine used Johnson-Reddick’s address in Nevada for tax purposes and paid her to redirect his mail to his home in San Francisco for more than 30 years.

He said that whilst you ‘don’t know the reality’ of it, from his dealings with Johnson-Reddick she was that she was ‘perfectly fine’.

He said: ‘She seemed to be religious. She would send me these cards with pictures of Lourdes on them, the place of miracles in France.

‘She was just normal. She didn’t seem to be that eccentric.’

Pedro Guajardo, her neighbour of 30 years, said that Johnson-Reddick was disabled and was in a wheelchair for ‘most of the time I knew her’.

He said: ‘I can’t say bad things or good things about her. To me she was just a person. I didn’t ask questions’.

After appearing on, submitted through a self-service online portal, the paper eventually decided to take the obituary offline.

John Maher, president and publisher of the newspaper, said in a "note to readers" that the paper had "removed the online listing of this obituary as we continue our review of the circumstances surrounding its placement."

The Reno newspaper reported that she lived in a mobile home with 15 cats up until she was hospitalized in May for treatment of bladder cancer. Katherine Reddick said she died at a nursing home Aug. 30 at the age of 78.

Lance van Lydegraf, Johnson-Reddick's attorney, told the Reno Gazette-Journal it was difficult to find family members to act on his client's behalf before she died.

“We would try and locate family members who would be willing to step in and act as her legal guardian for purposes of medical care and financial issues,” he said told the newspaper. “In fulfilling those responsibilities, she indicated that there was no one that I could contact."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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