Charles Cullen’s personal life was such a mess that he tried to commit suicide. He couldn’t handle the split from his wife – despite being the main cause of the divorce – and the loss of physical custody of his daughters, Shauna and Saskia. Given his conduct, he was lucky the court gave him access to his children.
One of the theories explaining Charles’s killing spree was that his need for control and power prompted him to decide the fate of his patients, regardless of their conditions. It claims that losing authority over his family contributed to his murderous impulses.
Cullen’s wife and daughters adopted private lives after his conviction
Charles Cullen married Adrienne Taub in June 1987. The couple welcomed two daughters – Shauna and Saskia – before Charles’ behavior forced Adrienne to file for a divorce.
Adrienne’s filing claimed Charles was distant, unsupportive, and often angry. Cullen had settled the family in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, in a modest red-brick house on the town’s outskirts. From the outside, the family’s situation seemed serene and optimistic, but the household was far from peaceful.
According to Adrienne, Charles refused to talk or get intimate with her for years. The family’s terriers bore the brunt of Charles’ abuse – he inflicted severe beatings on them, supposedly in the course of training them. “I was awakened many nights by the screams of those dogs,” Adrienne said.
She recounted a time Cullen zipped one of the dogs in a small bowling bag as punishment for urinating in the house. After losing custody of his daughters, Cullen moved into a basement apartment in central Phillipsburg.
Adrienne and the children moved to Roselle Park, New Jersey. After Cullen’s arrest, media houses tried to land an interview with Adrienne, but she turned them down. “You can imagine what we are going through,” Taub said. “Leave my family and children out of it. I have nothing to say.”
Taub and the children adopted private lives. There are no public records bearing the daughters’ names, so we suspect they changed their names.