Metropolis: Wednesday, April 10, 2003
Unwelcome Visitor

A teen doesn’t want to see the mom she remembers only amid violence.


Glenn Bush is worried. Almost 14 years ago, his baby granddaughter Maranda died while, around her, her parents screamed at one another and her older sister Amanda watched.

According to one state worker, Maranda’s parents, Amy and Johnny Bush, at one point blamed their baby’s death on 21/2-year-old Amanda. The Bushes had been telling child welfare caseworkers for months that Amanda was responsible for a horrendous series of bruises, burns, and broken bones that Maranda had suffered prior to her death.

Child protective workers believed the parents. Even after her sister’s death, toddler Amanda was returned to the custody of her parents, who proceeded to have two more daughters. But when Amber, the third child, also showed up in an emergency room with a suspiciously broken leg, the criminal justice system finally acted. Amy and Johnny Bush were charged with injury to a child, for Amber’s injuries, and eventually with homicide, for Maranda’s death. Amy Bush pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and testified against her husband. Johnny Bush went to prison for 99 years for murder.

Amy spent a year in prison. In the six years since she’s been out, she’s never seen her surviving daughters, although she had court permission to see them once a week. But on Thursday, she’s scheduled to ask a Tarrant County judge for “standard” visitation rights with the girls, who are now 16, 12, and 11. That could mean overnight custody of them on weekends and holidays and long periods in the summer.

Even if her daughters don’t want to see her, Amy Bush said, the court should require it. “I want to get to know my daughters,” she said. “I will never quit loving them.”

“It’s time,” she said. “There are questions they need to ask me.”

Glenn and Joyce Bush have plenty of questions for Amy, although they long ago ceased to believe they would ever be answered. They would like to know exactly how Maranda died, for instance — and why Amy now wants to see the girls when, in the elder Bushes’ minds, she at the very least failed to protect them.

Amanda said she has no desire to see, even briefly, the woman — her mother — who blamed Maranda’s death on her and used her as a shield from an abusive husband. Amanda said Amy sometimes locked her out of the house.

“I don’t understand why she would do something like this,” the ninth-grader said. “When I was 8 years old I didn’t want to see her. Now that I’m 16, I don’t know why she would think I would want to see her. This is our family,” she said, referring to her sisters and grandparents Glenn and Joyce Bush. “We have no complaints. We’re treated very well. And most of all we have love.”

In an interview on Monday, Amy Bush gave multiple reasons for not coming to see her daughters before now. She said she had to wait until she was back on her feet emotionally and financially. “I’m just now getting to where I’m stable,” she said. She said she waited a while, “for the kids’ emotional stability.” She said the elder Bushes hid the girls from her for several years. And she said she was afraid to visit because it would mean “going behind closed doors with someone [the Bushes] I don’t trust, people who had [the girls’] dad arrested in front of them.”

Amy Bush said she pleaded guilty to negligent homicide “in order not to go to jail for 99 years.” She said she never abused her children and never saw her husband do it, although he abused her — and although she testified against him in his trial.

She said she had been “told” that he abused the girls, but that the injuries happened when she wasn’t home or was asleep. For years, she said, child protective workers believed Johnny Bush when he said he had not hurt the children, “so why shouldn’t I believe him?”

Marc Gault, the attorney for Glenn and Joyce Bush, said Amy Bush “hasn’t demonstrated to us that any visitation is justified at this point. ... I don’t know that it would be in the girls’ best interests to suddenly have to spend overnight and weekend visits with their mother, given all that’s happened. Our position is she had some responsibility for Maranda’s death. That’s obviously a huge concern for Glenn and Joyce.”

Although Amy Bush said she believes the elder Bushes turned her daughters against her, Amanda said that’s not the case. “Everything I’ve ever been told, if I’ve gone and looked it up, it was exactly the truth,” she said. Amanda said that she has read thousands of pages of records about what happened to her and her sisters.

“I don’t think she [Amy] should be around children. Ever,” Amanda said. “That’s just my opinion.”

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