More than a decade ago, the nation was captivated by the story of Wendy Maldonado and her son, Randy. They beat Aaron Maldonado, Wendy's husband and Randy's father to death with a hammer and an ax after years of abuse.
Randy spent just over six years in prison for his role in his father’s death and Wendy was imprisoned in 2005. She’s set to be released from the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon, on March 7, 2016, and now Randy is hoping to help his mother get her life back together.
"My brothers have gotten to see her, but I haven't been allowed to," Randy, now 27, told People magazine.
Wendy and her children all claim to have been beaten by their father and even the judge that sentenced Wendy conceded she had endured "the worst case of domestic violence that any of us has seen." Wendy was left with broken ribs and missing teeth on more than one occasion.
“Our whole lives she took care of us, even in the middle of all the bad stuff," Randy said. "Now we want to take care of her and help her get her life back together, however that may look. It's going to be great after so long to finally be a family again and let this finally be over for her."
In an interview in 2014 with Oregon Live, Wendy said prison wasn’t a choice for her -- she took a plea deal to avoid a full trial. "My mom reads me stuff off the Internet sometimes, people saying, 'Why didn't she go to trial? No jury would have convicted her,'" she said. "But what about Randy? I couldn't risk seeing my son go to prison for the next 25 years because he was trying to protect me.”
Still, prison hasn’t been easy for Wendy. She now takes medication for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and other stress-related health issues, and the transition back into society will undoubtedly be difficult. "I know that everybody outside uses computers now," she said. "I barely know how to turn one on.”
Despite the tragedies that befell Wendy and her sons and the coming challenges, Randy knows his mother has plans for the future. "She wants to get out and cook herself a meal," he said, laughing. "She's dying to have some food prepared exactly the way she likes it. You don't really get that in prison."