In 2010, the Skinner residence in Yale, Michigan, became the center of a vicious attack on Paul Skinner and his then-wife, Mara Skinner (now McCalmon). The masked intruders stabbed the couple several times, leading to Paul’s death. While Mara survived, she had to deal with the fact that their daughter, Tia, was the one behind the murder. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Blood Relatives: A Deadly Education’ delves into this very case in addition to Mara’s experience. So, if you’re curious to find out more about Mara, here’s what we know!
Who is Mara McCalmon?
Mara and Paul married in April 1986. They both grew up in Detroit, Michigan, then moved to Yale in 1992. The couple had two sons and a daughter and later adopted another girl, Tia, who was their niece. At the time of the incident, Mara was a teacher at a local middle school. In the days leading up to the murder, Tia was 17 and had begun to have disagreements with Mara and Paul. She had been dating Jonathan Kurtz, and her parents weren’t entirely convinced that was a good decision.
Mara later stated, “We had talked about friends that were in his peer group, and that was something I didn’t want her exposed to at all.” So this led to some restrictions on Tia, with the parents taking her phone away or asking her to stay home for a few nights. Things didn’t seem anything out of the ordinary until the night of the attack in November 2010. After the couple went to bed, Mara woke up with her husband shouting, “Hon! Hon!”
As Mara saw Paul engaged in a fight with someone, she also felt someone else on top of her. When Paul turned on the lights, she said, “He (one of the attackers) had a knife like he was going to stab me again. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, that was it.’ I do remember thinking about my children. I remember grabbing the knife with my bare hands. ‘You guys gotta go. Jeff’s here.'” Jeff was one of their sons who was visiting at the time. He was in the basement with Tia, watching a movie.
Eventually, Paul was able to chase the two intruders away while Mara called 911. While Paul succumbed to his injuries, Mara survived despite being stabbed more than 20 times. In a shocking twist, the investigation revealed that Tia masterminded the attack, with Jonathan and another friend of his, James Preston, attacking the couple. Mara described the attack in court; ultimately, all three were sent away for life.
Where is Mara McCalmon Today?
In the months after the attack, Mara lived with her brother but stayed in constant fear of someone trying to break in. She later remembered, “My life was pretty normal. I never had any anxiety, never had any depression. After this, I found myself hyper-vigilant. I always thought someone was going to come and get me.” But with the help of loved ones and counseling, Mara was able to get better over time.
At one point, Mara was suicidal as well. But she remembered to reach out for help. She added, “I was in a completely dark, dark spot. I wasn’t thinking, but I did have that in the back of my mind. I called my counselor; he took me to a hospital where, consequently, I spent a couple [of] weeks. But that’s a good thing.” Mara eventually began working with the St. Clair County Victim’s Rights office in Michigan and founded P.S. You’re My Hero, a nonprofit.
The money raised through an annual walk/run was used to pay for comfort rooms at the office and a therapy dog in addition to counseling packages. Regarding her work as an advocate, Mara said, “What we’re doing is what can we do to help the next family, or to make this a little easier journey for the next victim.” She remarried in 2014 and currently lives in Port Huron, Michigan, with her husband. Mara is a grandmother now and continues to organize the annual walk/run for the nonprofit.