Sure, Mary Jo, Sure

The New York adventure proved a disaster. The early morning broadcast on CBS was a failure and before long, Mary Jo was back in the Valley and working at a station where her ratings were no longer outstanding. By now, the publicity accompanying West had a bit of an edge to it. Mary Jo was no longer a media darling. Soon, she was out of the news business entirely.

When her second marriage to well-known political operative Dick Mahoney broke up, Mary Jo watchers wondered how much more pain she had to endure. Earlier this year, she was appointed station manager for the City of Phoenix's public-access cable outlet, Channel 35. West's new position enjoys about as much celebrity fame as that of a ham radio operator. Yet her near-abduction rated page-one coverage with a photo.

Mary Jo West was back in the news. It is a poignant comment on her roller coaster of emotional torments and career moves that people were skeptical of her kidnaping. How depressing that confirmation of her ordeal would be viewed as, somehow, positive.

"Thank God she really was held at gunpoint and not just imagining the whole episode as a precursor to a nervous breakdown."

We are, all of us, too cynical by half.
According to sources close to the investigation and according to the police themselves, Mary Jo West at first thought the kidnaping was part of a role-playing exercise staged by her stress-management workshop. When it became clear the gunman was serious, she said with authority, "Girls, what's going on here? Let's not do this. Help me here."

But Mary Jo had to help herself.
Asked later where she found the nerve to bolt from her car and flee across the hospital parking lot, Mary Jo said she was motivated by her daughter Molly, not yet two.

After her birth parents abandoned her in Honduras, Molly was put in a Central American orphanage run by Mother Teresa. The ensuing adoption brought the little girl to Phoenix.

Mary Jo said she was determined that her daughter would not be orphaned a second time.

"That night I went home and held my daughter," said West. "I took the next day off and spent the day letting her know how much I loved her."

When Mary Jo West departed for CBS in Manhattan in 1982, she told this paper: "I'm not frightened of getting killed or mugged. I'm frightened of it being Tuesday morning and I've just gotten off work . . . my friends are back in Phoenix and I'm grieving for them. And no one recognizes me. And I think, `Oh my God, what have I given up?'"

When Mary Jo was assaulted, it wasn't in New York; it was in Phoenix. Her assailants did not know who she was. The teen-age gunman was only five years old when Mary Jo became the first female news anchor in the Valley.

Her fear of anonymity happened.
As far as the four kids were concerned, she was just some blonde with a purse.

What she almost gave up was her life.

"Mary Jo West is the local poster child for emotional instability and this entire story is a very sad cry for attention."

Mary Jo said she was determined that her daughter would not be orphaned a second time.

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