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Fla. Siblings Suspects in Parents’ Deaths

December 25, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Less than half a mile separates the neat, one-story homes of Marilyn Kananen and her adult son and daughter. At each, detectives found the remains of a body earlier this week.

Under the garage floor of Marilyn Kananen’s home, detectives uncovered what they believe are the remains of her abusive husband, who had been missing for a decade and a half. In the back yard of her children’s home a short time later, detectives found what they believe to be the remains of Kananen, 65. She was reported missing in September, exactly 15 years to the day her husband disappeared.

Two houses. Two bodies. Two adult children under suspicion.

``Needless to say this is a very bizarre case,″ Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said Tuesday at a news conference.

After being questioned by detectives Monday, the siblings attempted suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning by running a car in a closed storage unit later that day, police said. Investigators who had been watching them stopped the suicide attempt.

A judge on Tuesday denied bond for the son, Richard Kananen Jr., 47, a handyman charged with first degree murder in the death of his mother.

His sister, Stacey Kananen, a 37-year-old Walt Disney World worker, remained in protective custody at Florida Hospital Orlando on Wednesday under a law that allows the confinement of people who may harm themselves. She has not been charged and detectives plan to question her when she is released.

Stacey Kananen left a suicide note for her roommate.

``Rick and I knew it was over for us,″ the note said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. ``We had a part in Mother’s Leaving.″

Autopsy reports on the bodies weren’t complete.

Detectives wouldn’t give a motive, but said Richard Kananen Jr. had siphoned $60,000 from his mother’s trust fund into his own bank account. Investigators said in documents that Richard Kananen may have killed his mother for $250,000 she was poised to inherit after her father’s death last year, the newspaper reported.

Another daughter, Cheryl Bracken, reported Marilyn Kananen missing in September, a day after she failed to show up for her job as a secretary at an aviation firm. Bracken told authorities it was unlike her mother to miss work and that she was worried her mother might have been forcibly taken by her missing father. Her father had threatened to return to the family and kill or harm them, Bracken told authorities in a missing person report.

While Bracken fretted over her mother’s disappearance, Richard and Stacey Kananen held a yard sale, selling off their mother’s prized collection of Disney figurines, neighbors said.

The break in the case came Dec. 16 when Bracken’s 12-year-old son told police that Richard Kananen Jr. boasted to the youth about killing his father.

Detectives wouldn’t say if, based on their interviews with her children, Marilyn Kananen knew that a body was buried in her garage. No one reported the father, Richard Kananen, missing when he disappeared in 1988. Marilyn Kananen told her neighbor, Stephen Rucinski, that he had returned to his home state of Maine.

``He would get drunk all the time,″ Rucinski said of the father. ``He would get mean and nasty.″

After Marilyn Kananen disappeared, her son told Bracken their mother had left the area because she was worried about being caught for illegally drawing on her husband’s Social Security.

Bracken passed that information to investigators, who discovered Kananen owed Social Security $100,000 for her husband’s checks.

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