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Evil Twins

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Twins fall into two basic categories, dizygotic, where two eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm cells, or monozygotic, where one egg splits to form two embryos. In the latter model the result is what we know as ‘identical’ (as opposed to ‘fraternal’) twins. Dozens of films have been inspired by the seemingly impenetrable bond between two humans born of the same zygote, often, with one twin using the physical similarities of the other in order to dupe any innocent parties. But these are stories, what about reality?

Take Identical twins Gretchen Graham and Gloria Franklin. Both intellectually challenged, Gloria was hard working but Gretchen led a chaotic lifestyle which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. Gretchen and her little boy Shawn moved in with Gloria at Wolverine Lake, Michigan. For one reason or another, neither twin looked after Shawn who was simply locked in his room, out of the way. One evening in 1989 Shawn started a fire in his room, his screams were ignored and neither twin tried to free Shawn, nor made any effort calling for help. In 1990 both were charged and sentenced for first degree murder.

The case of Darlene and Charlene Shuler is a prosaic tale of immense greed; founders of C&D Distributors, and suppliers of small hardware to the US Department of Defence, the twins defrauded their client in excess of $20,000. In 2006 Darlene committed suicide after being investigated and a year later her sister was charged with fraud and money laundering.

Blaming her dead sister for being the brains of the operation she was, nonetheless, sentenced in 2009 to six and half years in prison. These two cases suggest that fiction can be stranger than the truth. But the case of the Bondurant twins, two farm boys raised in Tennessee, reads like a horror story.

At over three hundred and fifty pounds apiece Pete and Pat were two men you didn’t want to mess with. Starting out as small time crooks the boys got deeper into crime until Pete murdered his co-worker and Pat his ex-girlfriend, but these boys still liked to play together, both were convicted of the horrific murder of 24-year-old Gwen Dugger in 1986. No telekinesis, no secret identities, but it would seem there may be something in the lawless twin having power of the other; Charlene claimed Darlene had the upper hand, certainly, Gretchen was more dominant than the once-hardworking Gloria.

As for the Bondurant twins, after high-school, Pat stayed in Tennessee, got a job, and was happily married with two kids. Pete went to Cincinnati where he was convicted for manslaughter, after his release on parole, he went home to stay with his brother.