Father reveals what's healing his son behind bars

Chris Dankovich was sent to prison, convicted of killing his own mother in their Rochester Hills home. Now, for the first time, his father is speaking to Local 4 Defender Hank Winchester and revealing the one thing he says has changed his son's life for the better behind bars.

On April 25, 2005, the Dankovich's home turned into a gruesome crime scene.

Investigators said then 15-year-old old Dankovich stabbed his mother, Diane, more than 100 times because he believed he was a mission from God to protect children. When his mother discovered his homemade weapons, the teen attacked her, investigators said.

He pleaded guilty to a murder charge and isn't available for parole until he's 40.

Dankovich's father, Jim, said he will never forget the day he heard the news.

"I got a phone call from police and they said, 'Are you sitting down?' That was the first question. So, right away, you're thinking this wasn't going to be good news," he said.

His son, the young man he knew and loved, was now being called a monster. He had to make a decision to keep his son in his life or severe the tie.

"It's been kind of an eye-opening experience because I've always been, you know, punishment is important, and I think now retribution, in the sense of coming to restoration the best way you can … is important," Jim Dankovich said.

He began visiting his son in prison. He said he watched his son transform into a kinder, more gentle soul. It was art that helped him heal.

Chris Dankovich and other inmates are involved in the Prison Creative Arts Project through the University of Michigan. Volunteers meet with inmates to help them express themselves on canvas and through words.

"It's allowed for him to bring out what was inside. What was inside, originally, was very dark," said Jim Dankovich.

The father said he started to see the son he once knew come back once his feelings were expressed through the art.

"He's come to some terms with what's happened, I think. He's realized that he can express and do something meaningful. He's created some really good, good, good work," the father said.

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.