Wife dismisses abuse, torture allegations
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Jackson County woman who authorities claim was tortured and held against her will for 10 years by her husband said the allegations are false and she never was abused.
Stephanie Lizon, who made international headlines in July when her husband, Peter, was arrested, spoke with the Daily Mail Thursday before going to South Central Regional Jail to visit him. He remains incarcerated on $300,000 bond on charges of malicious wounding.
Authorities say he brutally abused Stephanie, tortured her and even forced her to give birth while chained up in the basement of their home.
She said those accusations couldn't be further from the truth.
"It's a lie," she said. "I don't know how to put it any other way."
Stephanie, 43, said she and Peter, 37, moved to a 38-acre farm in the Leroy area of Jackson County in 2006 in hopes of living a quiet country life. After a few run-ins with the law, (they were arrested once in 2004 in Maryland for cutting up a Bush/Cheney sign with a bayonet) they wanted a change from their political activist lives.
They used to enjoy riding around their expansive property and "mudding" on all-terrain vehicles and in their jacked-up pickup truck.
They raise goats, pigs and poultry. She said running the farm is hard work that sometimes takes its toll on her body.
All those bumps, bruises, scratches and scars, which she said are part of her daily life on the farm, became evidence against her husband after Stephanie went to a family crisis shelter in June.
She and her young son went with Peter on June 18 to Bosley Rental and Supply in Parkersburg to return a rented rototiller.
She said they got into an argument in the store.
"My husband and I had an argument," Stephanie said. "No one is disputing that we've had arguments. I really don't think that's all that unusual."
She said she told the store clerks she was avoiding her husband and wanted a place to sit down. Stephanie said she has never been afraid of Peter and never for a moment thought her son would be in danger with him.
She has a dry wit and said she is often misunderstood.
She was still angry and didn't want to go back home with Peter at the time. She said she wanted somewhere to cool down.
She called a few motels but didn't have any identification on her at the time. She was told she couldn't get a room without ID. She was given the number for the Family Crisis and Intervention Center and took a cab there, leaving her son with his father in the store.
"I needed a place to stay," Stephanie said. "I wanted what I would refer to as a 'cooling down' period, which is the way I thought people were supposed to deal with conflicts."
At the center, her so-called injuries were photographed and discussed, she said.
"Those injuries were not injuries suffered as a result of abuse," Stephanie said. "Those injuries were suffered during the course of an active and hardworking life.
"I don't understand the skepticism that I'm hearing about farming being dangerous. Is farming really this dangerous? Yes, as a matter of fact it is. It is. I think anyone who works on a farm and rides an ATV and takes part in all of these activities would not be the least bit surprised that I have bruises and bumps and injured hands."
One of her wrists is tattooed with a thick black band and a shoulder bears an intricate design. At the time, authorities said her wrists were covered in thick scar tissue. A reporter observed no scar tissue on her wrists Thursday.
Another issue involved her children. Stephanie and Peter have a 15-month-old son, whose name she asked not be printed, but lost a previous child to miscarriage.
Jacklyn Adkins, a worker at the crisis center, told Jackson sheriff's deputies that Stephanie told her that Peter once struck her in the stomach while she was pregnant, causing her to miscarry, and that their second child was delivered at home while Stephanie was bound in chains.
"My husband was not responsible for my son's death," she said. "Nor did I give birth to him at home."
"I don't really appreciate Jackson County, and through them the press, making an international mockery and scandal and crime of the most tragic event in my life, and equally I don't appreciate the mockery and criminal attachments to the most beautiful event in my life when my living son was born."
She said she lost the baby because of an ATV crash in 2009. She was seven months pregnant at the time and decided to ride the ATV out to water their animals. She was taken to a hospital by helicopter after crashing the ATV.
She gave birth to that child at the hospital but it didn't survive.
Peter dug their son's grave at the Lizon Family Cemetery, established on their property in the child's honor. It is where she and her husband will be buried, she said.
Their living son was born at home. Stephanie is a staunch supporter of unassisted home births and believes people should not go to doctors unless they are sick or in dire need of medical care.
When asked if her husband had ever abused her or harmed her in any way, Stephanie answered with an emphatic "No."
Peter has not been indicted on the malicious wounding charge.
Stephanie said she is planning civil lawsuits but would not specify against whom they would be filed.
She is speaking out because she is concerned about the way Peter was arrested and held without firsthand testimony from his supposed victim.
"If what they have that they call evidence is enough to do what they are already doing to my husband, then I don't think anyone is safe," Stephanie said. "If gossip and circumstantial evidence is enough to put someone in jail, and it's been two months now. Nobody knows what's going to happen to him.
"I think all citizens should take note of this. I think everyone at one point in their lives has been victimized by gossip."
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.