Admired in Life, Reviled in Death

The mysterious suicide of supergenius Alex McIntire begged for answers. His former stepdaughter, Lisa Hamilton, is now providing them.

Lisa Hamilton agreed to talk with New Times after being contacted at her home in Lexington, Kentucky, where she works at a print shop. In the 26 years since these events occurred, she has discussed them with only a limited number of people: two police officers, an attorney, a therapist, a boyfriend, her husband, and her brother and mother. She speaks in hushed staccato phrases, never mentioning McIntire by name, instead using a pointed “he” or “him” or a selected epithet.

Here is her account: Early one morning in Pakistan, while her mother slept, Lisa was awakened in her bed by McIntire. Without staying a word, he positioned her on her back, lifted up her nightgown, and began to caress her genitals. Then he performed cunnilingus. Throughout the episode he repeatedly told her he loved her and asked if it felt good. She said nothing. After perhaps 30 minutes he left, riding into the city on his bicycle. “I knew what was going on,” Lisa says today. “I knew what he was trying to do. I knew it was wrong.”

And so began what Lisa Hamilton claims was a nightmarish cycle of abuse that lasted more than seven years. Typically, she charges, McIntire would come into her room in the late evening after her mother had fallen asleep. The “visits,” as Lisa calls them, lasted up to an hour. During some extended periods, they occurred almost nightly. On occasion they took place during the day while the two were alone in the house. She says McIntire frequently instructed her not to tell anyone. Once, while still in Pakistan, Lisa's mother left for a few days on business. “This was like his holiday,” Lisa remembers, her voice wavering. She was about eight years old. McIntire brought her into his bedroom and removed her clothes. He fondled her. He removed his penis from his pants and placed her hand on it.

Jordin Isip
Jordin Isip


Lisa learned to detach herself during the assaults. It was her only defense. “I froze,” she says. “It was like a blackness. I went away from my body. In fact every time I talk about it, I feel the same way as I did then -- everything seems like it exists in just two dimensions. Flat. I could feel it but it wasn't mine. I just didn't feel anything. I could turn it off, like a switch.”

As the abuse continued, Lisa developed a theory for why it was happening: “As a child you think it's your own fault. If I wasn't a bad person, he wouldn't be doing this to me. So it was my responsibility to put up with it, not to complain.” She worried that telling her mother would split apart the family. As much as she wanted the assaults to stop, she also wanted her family to stay together. A 1992 e-mail message to her mother explained:

All I wanted was for nobody to find out, for him to stop doing it around Jack, and for you not to lose your marriage. I don't know why it was such a great thing to try to save, but I was afraid if you found out, you'd blow up at each other and you'd hate me for wrecking it.

After four years in Pakistan, Alex McIntire and Linda Hamilton (both mother and daughter use the last name of Linda's maternal grandfather) accepted job offers from an English-language school in Quito, Ecuador. In 1978 they moved there with Lisa and Jack. McIntire, Lisa says, continued his visits. Her only respite came during a two- or three-month period when McIntire moved out of the house. (Linda says he was having an affair and briefly lived with the woman and her children.) Lisa claims the visits continued when the family moved to Miami in 1979. Three years later McIntire and Linda separated; subsequently he filed for divorce. Linda says she had been willing to patch up the relationship, but McIntire wasn't interested. “He said I wasn't enough woman for him,” recalls Linda.

During the separation McIntire demanded visitations with Lisa. Once or twice a week Linda dropped her daughter at McIntire's parents' home in South Miami-Dade, where he was living. Lisa says he abused her there, too, each time she arrived. Only after the divorce was finalized, in August 1983, did the assaults come to an end. Lisa was fourteen. She never saw McIntire again.

When Lisa Hamilton heard the news that Alex McIntire had killed himself, she broke down in tears, screaming in anger. This development did not follow the script she had played in her mind so many times. No resolution came with his death. “I wanted to confront him, but now I can't,” she says slowly, carefully choosing each word. “I don't get to destroy him, to see his life crumble away. I don't have control over it now. I don't get the release, the sentence, the execution, the ruining of his life. I don't fulfill the dream of castrating him. And now I don't get the rest that I need in my life.”

Telling her story, she now believes, may precipitate a resolution. It is part of her healing. She also believes a public airing will help illuminate the devastating effects of sexual abuse on a young child. No one besides other victims, she says, can comprehend the numbing pain she has endured for so many years. Although she is married now, she has had difficulty with relationships. “What is trust? What is love?” she asks.

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