When people kept suggesting Nikkia Roberson write a book about her life, she finally listened.
Putting the events of her childhood down on paper turned out to be very therapeutic for the 22-year-old Augusta resident, and now her book, Mummy is a Killer, has sold more than 30,000 copies in England. It will soon be released in France, and she hopes to release it in the United States later this year.
In 1998, when Roberson was 7 years old, her mother killed two of Roberson’s siblings – Melvin King, 5, and Delvin King, 6 – in a fit of psychotic rage.
“She was having a paranoid delusion. She thought she saw fire on the walls,” Roberson said. “She boiled the water and threw it on them. Threw it on my little brother. Then she hit my sister in the head with the pot she boiled the water in.”
When it was over, Debra Roberson placed her children’s bodies on the couch and called her mother (Roberson’s grandmother), who called the police.
The baby, 6-month-old Hasson, was found safe in another room.
The family was living in Amityville, New York, at the time, and Roberson was 7 years old. She had recently moved in with her father and thus escaped the episode. It was years before she learned exactly what had happened to her siblings.
Her friends at school peppered her with questions she couldn’t answer. She finally learned the truth from articles she found on Google and confronted her grandmother.
“I cried a lot – away from people. I didn’t let a lot of people see me cry,” she said. “At night time when people thought I was sleeping, I’d be crying.”
Residents of Amityville have called the event the “new Amityville Horror,” referencing the 1974 slaying of six members of the DeFeo family. Ronald DeFeo Jr. was charged with killing his parents and four siblings while they slept.
The DeFeo home, which was rumored to be haunted, was the basis for the The Amityville Horror in 1977 and a movie by the same name, released in 1979.
The DeFeo home was about two miles from the home where Roberson’s own horror took place.
“Really, the same thing that happened in that house happened in our house,” Roberson said.
She said the media also drew that comparison, though she doesn’t like it.
Roberson said she blames the system, not her mother, for what happened to her siblings. She and her siblings were repeatedly removed from the home while her mother was in and out of mental institutions, but they always went back home.
She describes her mother as good and loving, but even as a small child Roberson could tell something was not right.
She recalled an instance in which her mother made the children get on the ground and pray on a playground near an apartment complex in Brooklyn.
“She just kept screaming at the top of her lungs, screaming stuff about the Bible,” she said.
“One time she poured a whole bottle of perfume on my head.”
It didn’t help that her mother had also gotten into drugs.
Often, the children were locked out of the house or into a room while her mother and her friends got high.
“Child Protective Services kept taking us away from her and then giving us right back, when all the signs were there that she was not in a position to take care of kids,” she said.
Roberson moved to Augusta when she was 17 to live with her grandmother.
She now works full time at a day-care center and has been taking classes in medical assisting. She plans go to nursing school to become a registered nurse. She has no plans to write another book or to move back to New York.
“(Writing the book) was actually to help other people out that’s going through mental illness in their families,” she said. “I believe my brother and my sister could have been saved if somebody would have done the right thing.”
Debra Roberson’s doing better now, Roberson said. She spent a year in prison following the incident and now lives in a mental institution in upstate New York. Roberson said she forgives her mother and said they have a good relationship now.
“I don’t want people to think that just because the title is Mummy is a Killer that it’s like a book that is trying to put her down or say she’s a bad person. I just want everybody to know that I still love my mother, I never stopped loving her and that she was just sick.” she said. “She wasn’t evil. She wasn’t mean. She was just sick.”