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Question of the Week: Murder

by Susan Henderson on November 26, 2007

Tell me about a murder that had a real impact on you.

*

Wednesday, Chuck Collins of The Radio Murders will be here to play Top 5 with you. He’s a kind-hearted, talented guy who is long overdue for a break in this business. I hope you’ll stop by to meet him.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

mikel k November 25, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Ted Bundy killed Margaret Bowman, about an hour after I said goodnight to her at a wine and cheese party that she and I attended.

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DarylDarko November 26, 2007 at 1:24 am

The pseudo-murder by Margaret Thatcher’s British Government of 10 hunger strikers in the prisons of Northern Ireland in 1980 stirred my soul deeply.

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lance_reynald November 26, 2007 at 3:01 am

Matthew Shepard’s death still causes my heart to ache.

in spite of tireless efforts for change there are still people out there who might harm those we love.

yeah, I’d say that one… from the vigil I attended in DC on a night colder than most Octobers to watching debates about hate-crime bills on C-Span, everything about that one death leaves me both saddened and awestruck.

we as a society and as a species are capable of so much better.

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robinslick November 26, 2007 at 5:26 am

John Lennon.

It was life-changing for me, actually, and it represented the end of an era and the beginning of something dark and horrific in its place which had and continues to have huge implications for all of us.

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Bett Norris November 26, 2007 at 5:57 am

Two murders still affect me deeply, that of Emmett Till in 1955 and Viola Liuzzo in 1965. I researched both for my novel Miss McGhee. Those two deaths bookended the decade of the civil rights movement that I wrote about.

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~Lee November 26, 2007 at 7:33 am

I remember being little, maybe 7 or 8, when Wayne Williams was killing children in Atlanta. I had no concept of race, much less that I didn’t know that I didn’t fit the profile of his victims, but I remember being terrified every time my dad took me with him downtown. We went to the bus station to pick up my cousin and every man who looked at me, clinging tightly to my dad’s leg, was a potential child murderer. I recently watched a news special about Wayne Williams, and those intense feelings of horrific fear flooded me all over again.

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SusanHenderson November 26, 2007 at 9:18 am

Wow, I didn’t know I’d get such interesting answers. No one’s named my guy yet; we’ll see if anyone does before Friday.

Hey, if Dice Tsutsumi is around, I’ll be in touch this evening. Tomorrow at the very latest. xo

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Kimberly November 26, 2007 at 9:54 am

My younger brother put down his dog a few years ago. Molly was not even three years old. She snapped at (but did not bite) my niece when she was playing roughly with her and did not heed her mother’s warnings to be gentle. Rather than reprimand the child and/or find a new home for the dog, they put Molly down the same day.

I was horrified that a member of my own family could be so obtuse and I said things in the heat of the moment that caused a two-year silence between us. I lost two years of not only my brother’s life, but my two darling nieces’ as well. It took another tragedy to reconcile us, but the relationship is still, and probably always will be, on tenter-hooks.

The thing that really sucked, was the cold, hard realization that I am so very different from my family (or that they are so very different from me). It was something I had always known, but it was that moment when it really struck home. A murder of a totally different variety, but painful all the same.

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EkEkEkEk07 November 26, 2007 at 10:00 am

matthew shepard and cassie bernall. matthew was murdered b/c he was gay. cassie was murdered b/c she believed in god. both of their stories impacted me in very deep and life altering ways. i became a born again christian after learning about cassie’s martyrdom. it is believed that she said yes when asked “do you believe in God?” i came out of the closet after learning about and studying matthew’s murder … seeing several productions and performing in THE LARAMIE PROJECT. i came out two days after reading dennis shepard’s speech about his son, his hero. i realized that i could still be loved. and nothing could take away a father’s love for his son. it’s unfortunate that one cancelled out the other. and as a result of turning the knob, i lost my grasp on God. it’s temporary, and it’s not dramatic. i just have to figure some things out.

“…and in the distance i could see the sparkling lights of laramie, wyoming.” -the laramie project

“My son-a gentle, caring soul-proved that he was as tough as, if not tougher than, anyone I have ever heard of or known.” -dennis shepard

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Nathalie November 26, 2007 at 10:49 am

There were real murders that affected me but I don’t know that they operated a change in the way I was or felt. They brought pain, sorrow, a certain sense of waste but no tangible alterations.
But there was one I’ve dreamt of doing that changed my complete view on that old “you shall not kill” concept and has unsettled me deeply.

The dream was about helping my best friend to die.
She had cancer.
I was dreaming of her announcing she had finally developped liver cancer (six months before she actually got to that stage) and that she did not intend to stay around to watch herself fall apart, something she would have been quite capable to do in real life.
At that point, I really had to ask myself if, as in my dream she did ask me to kill her, I would or not.
And I was rather shocked to discover that my answer to that question was a positive one.
How could I let her suffer if she needed me to help her? I might do this painful sacrifice for one of my cats but not for my closest friend?
But the realisation was (still is) by no means a comfortable one for, although I am convinced that would have been the right humane thing to do (which luckily – ? – enough wasn’t called for, as she died fairly quickly, possibly assisted by her doctors, certainly drugged against pain), it would not do away with the pain to loose my closest friend and with guilt for the murder.
But to me there was really no alternative: saying no would have meant having to deal – and live – with a worse guilt.
All the comfortable rules i thought I knew about life have been toppled by that dream – and the reflexion that followed – and I am still struggling with this.

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Nathalie November 26, 2007 at 10:54 am

Where’s that edit button?
I wanted to reword the bit with “something she would have been quite capable to do in real life” to be clearer: I meant to say that she would have be capable of deciding of NOT waiting for the illness to kill her slowly. That is one of the reason why that dream had such a huge impact. it felt REAL.

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aimeepalooza November 26, 2007 at 11:01 am

I was two weeks from my due date with my oldest son. It was Christmas Eve and a woman in Detroit was shot and killed for her leather jacket. She was due around the same time I was. Both her and her baby died.

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Erin November 26, 2007 at 12:23 pm

I read “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote a couple of years ago. I’ve never felt so physically ill over anything else I’ve ever read.

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Dennis Mahagin November 26, 2007 at 3:05 pm

The Death of Ted Binion.

He was the one-time brash and besotted owner of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas,
who died in the Fall of ’08 with a big ol’ glob of tar heroin in his belly.

In 2001, Binion’s girlfriend, Sandy Murphy, and her lover Rick Tabish were convicted of murdering him.

But recently they received a new trial on the basis of a legal technicality, and were found Not Guilty, in this second trial. Murphy, if I’m not mistaken, is now a free woman. Tabish will be doing about a decade more prison time on theft and extortion charges.

I’m not sure why this “murder that’s not a murder” intrigues me so much. My opinion on the case has always been that Binion set up his own suicide in such a way as to frame his wayward woman and her lover for murder.

If that was the case, he nearly pulled it off!

Of course, it could also be a fact that Rick Tabish and Sandra Murphy got away with a very low-down, brazen and nasty murder.

It’s a huge freaking mystery, with plenty of sleazy characters and bizarre scenarios all around.

Pure Las Vegas.

It would make a great movie, but just as in the “O.J. Situation”– I do not believe the Binion Story is even close to being over. Yet.

Best,

DM

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ErikaRae November 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Both the Columbine murders and the OKC bombing murders – Sorry to pick such large events, but I was working with Columbine kids as a youth leader when that happened so it feels very close to me. Also, I was living in OKC when that bomb went off (felt the blast)… Consequently, I hate April.

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Claire Cameron November 26, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Linda Shaw, a university student, stopped for a repair at a gas station on the highway late one night. Back on the road, she had car trouble again and pulled over. They found the back window smashed and signs of a struggle, but no sign of her. It turned out her car had been sabotaged at the station.

All this lodged so deep into my imagination that I didn’t realize I’d written a book inspired the events it until well after publication.

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Greg November 26, 2007 at 4:33 pm

I just read this last year for the first time, and I completely agree with you. Totally shook me.

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Betsy November 26, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Wow, interesting question and interesting answers.
Sigh, this is still so upsetting to me – even though it happenned five years ago, I still think of this person often. I used to teach preschool the first few years I lived in Chicago, and one little girl was a favorite of mine – I had her three years in a row because I had two-year olds, then threes and fours. Her parents were awesome, very involved and caring, interesting people I got to know and talked to often. (And they were totally the hot mom and dad – the teachers always swooned when the dad came around, but it was hard to have a crush on him when his wife was so awesome.) The day of her daughter’s last class with me, she brought me presents and we hugged each other and both cried. Subsequently, she and the dad broke up, she met someone else, broke up with him because he was abusive, but it ended up that one day the two girls (my student and her sister) were at a Cubs game with their dad and the abusive ex went to the mom’s apartment and strangled her. (He was finally caught and convicted.) In any case, I was probably ripe for it at that moment, but I had a real spiritual crisis about it – I have always believed in something, but at that time I was just like, God is f****d. And I stopped praying for eleven of the most miserable days of my life, until I realized it wasn’t about god at all and that I’d rather believe in something than nothing. That’s extremely simplified of course. In any case, the dad still sends me holiday cards with pictures of the girls every year and they’re teenagers now but they were about six and eight when it happenned. I can’t even look at Wrigley Field, a wonderful place, without thinking of all of them.
More famous murders have hit me pretty hard too – I started watching the news when I was a kid, and the Kitty Genovese murder haunted me, as did the Manson killings. I read a lot of true crime between the ages of ten and sixteen. You know, I wasn’t weird or anything…

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass November 26, 2007 at 7:05 pm

A murder that haunted me since my earliest memories was of my mother’s aunt. Our side of the family called it a murder, but the aunt’s husband called it a suicide. The sheriff in the dinky Iowa farm town sided with the husband and it went down a suicide.

How a beautiful young wife and mother could lock herself in the barn from the outside, then shoot herself in the head with a shotgun has always troubled me. I used to gaze at my great-aunt’s portrait, a beautiful woman with shining eyes and a Miss America smile, and wonder. I still do.

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Susanna Donato November 26, 2007 at 7:25 pm

When I was a child, we often went to a dollhouse store called Norm’s Dollhouse, owned by a nice man named (naturally enough) Norm. I remember his face and his smile, and that once he was nice enough to turn off their air conditioner or some other electrical system that was making a high-pitched buzzing that only I could hear. Then, about eight years ago (I can’t find it online, and I can’t remember the exact date), I read in the newspaper that someone had come to the door of Norm’s home, and when he opened the door, the person shot and killed him. This nice, sixty-something man. So that came to mind.

And also years ago, a journalist named Gary Lopez, I think, was killed in a car accident at a stretch of Santa Fe Drive that I drive down regularly. I think of him and his family.

Most of what come to mind are other violent episodes: Bloody footsteps along the sidewalk on my way home from downtown Denver. A man beaten and left, pantsless, on the steps of my apartment building. Another man stabbed and raped in the basement of my college dorm. Two friends mugged, another assaulted on a subway platform in New York City. All arousing that sense of helplessness, of vulnerability.

Maybe I’ll choose an incident along a busy stretch of street across from my college campus. An older woman in a big car — Buick? Cadillac? — had hit a pedestrian crossing the street. The victim was a single mother, about 23, jaywalking. The old woman hit and ran, although she later came back and surrendered. I was walking past the scene to a meeting with my college advisor. The firefighters were hosing the blood off the street. Those red swirls, in the gutter — I’ll never forget.

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DarylDarko November 26, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Silly girl! Don’t we ALWAYS give you interesting answers?

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DarylDarko November 26, 2007 at 9:43 pm

I haven’t read it but (yet) but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal in the latest film version cast me into a gloomy depression for a week.

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~ Lee November 26, 2007 at 10:02 pm

I don’t think I understand the point system here.
Is it a system, or does it signify something else?
This is the first I’ve noticed it.

~Lee

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Erin November 27, 2007 at 12:26 am

When I finished the book, I closed it and stared at the cover where there is a closeup picture of the actual killer’s eyeballs. I probably sat there silent for 30 minutes just wondering what it was I had just read.
It’s one of those books you hate to recommend (because of the two week depression that inevitably follows) but you do anyway because you want someone (anyone!) to understand the emotions of fear, anger and confusion that it puts you through.

Good luck!

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troutbum70 November 27, 2007 at 12:51 am

I felt the blast too, I thought a plane had crashed at Tinker AFB. I was driving south on I-35 and for two hours Federal cars and trucks were flying north bound from Dallas. Three or four days after it happened I sat in a bar with a friend as he described identifying his sister by a tattoo of her sons name, that was all they could recognize. I was returning from my honeymoon and got stuck in Memphis and we sat there all day watching Columbine unfold. I know how you feel.

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Shelley November 27, 2007 at 1:07 am

Matthew Shepard’s murder was so disturbing and woke people up again when city communities in ny and sf, for a moment, thought homophobia was a thing of the past.
One of my earlier memories is watching John F. Kennedy’s funeral on tv, November 25, 1963. I was only 4, but noticed how the world changed as some lost hope.

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Shelley November 27, 2007 at 1:09 am

I loved “In Cold Blood” as a teen and remember being confused because the book was presented as fiction.

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SusanHenderson November 27, 2007 at 8:14 am

Still here, reading these amazing stories. Sometimes I ask a question of the week, and because I’ve come to know some of you so well, I can make pretty good guesses at how you’ll answer them. Not this time. Anyway, I won’t be doing individual comments because I’m putting every extra bit of time into my book edits, but wanted you to know I hear you. I’m also. You know. I’m having a time with Patry Francis’s news.

Lee, you asked about the point system. I hate it and I hope no one here uses it or pays attention to it. Basically, it’s an automatic thing that Disqus does, and I talked to Terry (and he talked to Disqus) the moment I saw it because I don’t like anything that has to do with rating people or making you guys feel self-conscious about what you post here. What Terry told me (Terry? You want to speak for yourself?) is that this has something to do with training the spam filters or something to do with appropriate or inappropriate comments, and that all blogger forums grade you, but this one just lets you see what your reputation is across the web. Something like that. If you want it to become invisible (I do) then I think Terry and Disqus can make that happen. I certainly don’t want anyone going around thinking they have to be appropriate here.

Okay, off to do edits. Just wanted to check in.

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Ric Marion November 27, 2007 at 8:55 am

A murder? When I was 10, a widow lady in our very small town was found strangled with her own nylons on her living room floor. Most everyone thought it was her son-in-law but he was never arrested. A few years ago, when the old jailhouse was torn down and they were moving evidence boxes, I got a chance to go through it. Fascinating stuff. I’ve been working on a cozy mystery based on this case. But, oddly, I have had to be creative since the actual case is too absurd to be believable.

In my college years, it was the massacre at Kent State. It became clear that going from anitwar rally to antiwar rally, getting radical, was not the way to go. Once they started killing us, it was time to put the picket signs away and find a way to work within the system.

Now, I seem to know everyone, or have a connection to everything that happens around here. I know the young man serving life in prison for the Jenny Jones case. I worked with a builder and parked my car five feet from a body that had been dumped at a house site. (No, I didn’t discover it, ran into a news crew there the next morning.) I have reporter friends who call me now when anything happens because it’s likely I’ll have some information.

Interesting question, Susan. Gets the brain cells moving.

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David Niall Wilson November 27, 2007 at 9:01 am

I’ve never known anyone personally that was murdered. All through my life, I’ve been affected personally by murder, but I tend to avoid the “personalization” of such things, because – frankly – I find it a bit selfish. I could go on about John Lennon being shot, but I don’t know how his friends, or his family felt – I didn’t know the man, except through music I wasn’t particularly taken by (I leaned toward Deep Purple and The Stones) – so other than a million people asking me where I was at the time he was shot, as if they could make that moment about them, or me, instead of about a talented man being shot – I don’t know what to say.

JFK was murdered, and I lost a full morning of Saturday cartoons – but I wasn’t old enough to really “feel” what the country felt – and again, it would not have really been the murder itself that affected me, but the situation caused by everyone trying to make it about them.

Did Courtney kill Kurt? Life did, I think…but again, not my “circle” of life.

So really no one that I have known personally, or that had a stake in my life, has been murdered, leaving me for once without the sort of answer I usually give here. I am thankful not to have a better answer, and maybe that – in and of itself – is enough.

DNW

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Gail Siegel November 27, 2007 at 10:28 am

There have been a few, but one of the most recent, creepy ones was the murdering doctor who lived across the street.

From the news: “On May 23, 2005 a federal jury condemned a Chicago podiatrist to death for murder. Dr. Ronald Mikos fatally shot Joyce Brannon 54, a disabled former nurse, at point-blank range in 2002, just four days before she was to testify against him in a $1 million Medicare fraud case.” Brannon lived in the basement of a church, which is where he shot her.

I first got wind of Mikos arrest when I came home and saw a number of cruisers and tv vans parked directly across the street.

Mikos was the boyfriend/boarder of a very kindly woman in a tiny beige brink bungalow across from us. Her daughter was friendly with mine, Meredith. Mikos drove a red convertible, and seemed rather innocuous. I would often see him pulling away from the house when I walked the dog. Once, Meredith attended a birthday party at his house in Skokie. I remember he had large fish tanks. She was very young, yet I left her there for the afternoon, unattended.

I never knew, until I mentioned the murder to Meredith, that Mikos used to give her and her friend rides home from school in that little red convertible, two innocent grammar school girls, wind whipping through their hair.

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ErikaRae November 27, 2007 at 11:19 am

Ugh. It was a horrid time. All the rain afterwards…the lightning cracks over and over…and that smell.

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ErikaRae November 27, 2007 at 11:41 am

Hey – I don’t know if you’ve already discovered it – and I reeeeally don’t want to overstep any boundaries since I don’t actually know you – but you might really dig a book by a guy named Helmaniak.

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ErikaRae November 27, 2007 at 11:45 am

Sorry, that’s Daniel Helminiak

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troutbum70 November 27, 2007 at 12:05 pm

The smell still lingers in my mind. I know a fireman who had to shave his moustache because the smell had attached itself to him. I had never seen him clean shaved…

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Gail Siegel November 27, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Susan, you prompted me to write more about this, on my own blog. Got a link-y in there for you. xxGail

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Pia Z. E. November 27, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Our friend, Terri’s, daughter, Doni, was murdered on August 11th by her ex boyfriend. He shot her multiple times in her apartment at 5 a.m. I see Terri everyday and she’s so sad, but she talks easily about Doni, still smells her perfume in the air, which gives her comfort.

I wrote about Doni’s death (changed the names for the google) on The Nervous Breakdown. http://thenervousbreakdown.com/

Need to write about it more. Doni was a nurse and never hurt anyone, but there were signs that the boyfriend was coming apart and I think she was only a few hours away from telling her mom and her New Orleans policeman dad. A policeman lived next to Doni’s condo and he heard the fighting but didn’t go next door to help; he just left a message on the building manager’s recording machine. I feel like she missed living by hours and inches.

The guy killed himself too. They have it on video tape and it took him 20 minutes to die.

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Gail Siegel November 27, 2007 at 3:33 pm

I remember when this happened, Pia. Your family was so big-hearted with your friend Terri. I hope to heaven nothing comes this close to you — to any of us — again.

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Jordan November 27, 2007 at 4:03 pm

When my husband was in graduate school in 2002, his favorite teacher and advisor, Dr. Felix Polk, was murdered by his wife, Susan Polk, a trial that has since gone on to be world famous. There’s even a really good book about it–Seduced by Madness. Like many complex people, Felix had a very dark secret side that his students knew nothing of–but he was still a damn fine teacher. His murder came at a critical time for my husband in his studies and was almost as devastating to him as losing his father (born on the same day, ironically, as Felix), four years earlier. It’s hard to be a helpless witness.

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Kimberly November 27, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Is anyone else depressed after reading about all these atrocities? Whew! I’m having a time getting through them all – and my heart goes out to all of you, as well… Makes me ponder how we are all just here (to quote Pia) by mere hours and inches…

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SusanHenderson November 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Damn. I didn’t realize how many of you were right on the edge of these tragedies.

I’ll check out these links later this evening once I’ve met my writing goal.

And to lighten the mood for Kimberly… Over Thanksgiving, my mom has the TV on and I see an old boyfriend on a Verizon Fios commercial. And he’s chubby and bald and wearing a striped shirt. And he dives in the commercial, but i wasn’t really paying attention, so I don’t know why he’s diving. Anyway, he was an awesome conundrum player. We once drove from Pittsburgh to DC just to get a croissant at Aux Pied Du Cochon (did I spell that right, Lance?), and on the way back he fell asleep and I’m not the best at directions, so I was in line to park at a nuclear power site in Ohio when I decided to wake him up and see if he could help. He was a cranky son of a bitch on that trip.

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Sarah Bain November 27, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Wow, Susan, this is certainly a question to get things moving along. Um, there are two in recent years that stand out the most to me. Though Laci Peterson was plastered all over kingdom come and I worked at the paper, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and her baby and what kind of monster could end the life of a child before it has a chance to breath on it’s own. It was of course, only months after Grace and so it stood unfathomably before me.

The second was too local, too close to home and still too unimaginable for me to spend any time thinking about though I find myself each day pondering it. A father was driving a car with his five children to meet their mother at the mall in Spokane, here where I live in November, 2005. Another driver, crossed the line and hit them head on. All five children died and the mother, 7 months pregnant with her sixth child, went to the hospital two weeks after her children died to forgive the driver of the other car. Forgiveness it seems of a kind I cannot imagine. The driver still has not been prosecuted and rumors errupt that he was on his cell phone but the community waits and struggles to process the information. Is it murder? I’m not sure but accident somehow seems too trivial. Five lives–2 years old, 5 years old, 8 years old, 10 years old and 12 years old. And the parents get out of bed each day to raise their sixth child, in a sense, an only child. Their kind of forgiveness and depth is beyond amazing to me.

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EkEkEkEk07 November 27, 2007 at 10:56 pm

thanks. i’ll check him out.

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terrybain November 28, 2007 at 1:07 am

Oh, Pia. Heart. Breaking. I don’t remember hearing about this before. But now hearing about it, well, I won’t soon forget it.

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lance_reynald November 28, 2007 at 2:55 am

au pied de cochon…
but, I think all of the hometown crew gets what you’re talking about…. OPA.
damn, I really miss that place every time it’s mentioned…
must find the portland version.

xo.

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Betsy November 28, 2007 at 8:41 am

Jeez, Pia, that is just awful. I am so sorry.

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Gail Siegel November 29, 2007 at 11:01 am

I found myself thinking about this, driving down Lake Shore Drive this morning. So awful.

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john guzlowski December 1, 2007 at 7:09 pm

The one that had the most impact on me was the one I almost committed.

I held the revolver in my head and pointed it at the face of the other person. I didn’t know what I was doing. Or what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted something terrible to happen and I wanted everything that was going wrong in my life to stop. And I wanted nothing to happen, and finally I felt so tired that I couldn’t hold on to my gun or my anger or any emotion. Everything was gone or going, and I dropped the gun, and for the next five years I walked around like a dead man.

And when I came back to life, I was somebody else. A bookkeeper, a student, a guy waiting to become a clerk in some quiet bank.

I’ve been him ever since.

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Megh December 19, 2007 at 12:33 am

I’m too late on this, I know. But oddly enough I’ve been waiting for someone to ask this sometime so I could just come out with it: The dartmouth murders. I remember reading the article again and again a few years back, trying to glean some shread of motivation that wouldn’t come down to: They wanted to see if they could do it. Straight out of dostoyevsky, they wanted to see if they had it in them. It’s bothered me for years.

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Tonnie December 30, 2007 at 7:17 am

On June 25, 2000, my brother Steven was killed by a single shotgun blast to the chest.
He had been staying a few nights at a neighbor’s home, as he and his wife were having problems. This neighbor had gone to work until 11:00pm on a Saturday night, and had gone to a bar and drank beer until after 2:00 before arriving home. He admitted to police that he and my brother had had a “big fight”, and accused Steven of taking his prescription painkiller, Lortab (hydrocodone).
Police couldn’t find the shotgun, however, that my brother supposedly used to end his life. This neighbor finally retrieved it from a utility closet, saying he had thought my brother “was asleep” and he had hidden it “so he wouldn’t hurt himself.” He also said my brother had been drinking, and his body and clothes did reek of beer.
However, in the autopsy, it was found that my brother had not ingested any beer at all, and it was determined that beer must have been poured onto his body and clothes before or, more likely, after his death.
I saw the crime scene photographs, and I swear on my life there is NO WAY anyone could have mistaken my brother for “sleeping!” Evidence that he had been shot was all over, not just the sofa where he was found, but the walls and floor, as well. It was unmistakable! And nobody can shoot themself in the chest with a shotgun and then go and hide the weapon. Not a possibility.
Only after my brother’s body was cremated did the truth begin to trickle out, in the form of rumors and gossip. But in the center of all the talk were some hard facts: The shotgun had been in a padlocked storage building behind the man’s house, and even he admitted my brother had no idea where it was or that it existed. He offered no explanation for my brother’s apparent psychic ability to have known he had a gun at all. The police had this “neighbor” in the back seat of their car for over two hours, but then shift-change happened on the police force of this small Georgia PD and he was released and told he’d be questioned later. He laughs now about his luck and says he’s “still waiting.” Indeed.
I cannot begin to describe what it’s done to me, to have to wonder what my only sibling, my brother, went through before he died. Until I saw the crime scene pictures, I had questioned “why?” in my mind only. But now I want to question police with just that — why? Why did they let him go, just because it was – they said, “shift change?” What kind of cops do THAT? My own family (my children are now 17,17,17 (daughters) and a son who’s ten) has paid a terrible price for this travesty, and I will never be the same mother and wife and person I was before losing my brother.
To allow a family to believe a loved one has taken his life when he has not is purely evil, and to know this excuse-of-a-man has laughed about his death makes me want to go after him myself, but I have a young son who needs me, so relocating to Death Row isn’t an option.
But this man, who allegedly drinks and likes to talk about his crime, can be exposed and made to answer for his crime. He isn’t hard to find.
I believe in my heart that he will certainly pay for this one day in the hereafter, but a big part of me says that’s not enough. He should be exposed and taken in like any other murderer. The difference in my life since losing Steven is extraordinary – I’m not the same in any way, and the whole family has suffered irrepairable harm.
I can’t think of “murder” without remembering…. I can’t do ANYthing without remembering. To say it’s ruined my life is actually an understatement. I see my brother’s murder in my sleep, I think about it all the time, even though I try so hard to let it go.
I know I’ll never truly do that until his killer has been given justice.

* * * * * * * * * *

Another murder that haunts me is the 1993 SENSELESS abduction of 2-year-old James Bulger, from a shopping mall in Merseyside, England. Little James was led by his tiny hand (the image caught by CC cameras is frozen in time and was seen worldwide) by a ten-year-old boy, away from the safety of his mother, who had turned her attention to a butcher for less than two minutes.
The boy was Jon Venables who, with his pal Robert Thompson, also 10, led “Jamie” away from his mother and on an over-two-mile hike to some train tracks and, ultimately, to his terrible death.
Little Jamie was seen being led by these two 10-year-olds by no less than 38 people in and around town, some who even asked the boys about him, as he had a gash on his head early when the boys dropped him head-first onto concrete because he wouldn’t look at his own reflection in a pond. When they did finally reach the railroad tracks, the boys splashed his face with blue paint that they’d stolen in the mall. He was then beaten, — and beaten, and beaten — with an over-20-pound metal bar, large concrete bricks, and rocks about his entire body by both the boys. When the boys were later questioned about why they had beat him so MUCH, they said, “He just kept getting back up!” Jesus.
The boys beat this child so badly that his head was literally caved in by their dozens of blows to the head with sharp rocks. Batteries, AA’s that were also stolen, were inserted into him (it’s questionable exactly how and where) and his private parts had been manipulated. Then the boys laid his broken body over the train tracks and covered his face with stones, apparently thinking it would be seen as an accident by a careless boy who played on the tracks. He was not dead when put on the tracks, but died before the train came and literally cut his tiny body in two.
The train operator said he’d thought it was “a doll” but then saw only clothes, he’d thought, until he realized, to his horror, what he was seeing was the top half of a toddler boy; the other half, stripped of clothing, was found some distance away.
I cannot, CAN not, fathom what this discovery must have done to this man, and what in God’s name Jamie’s mother, Denise, surely went through — it is absolutely unthinkable, this crime, yet this happened to her only child. . . it must have been horrific… God knows how she made it through their trial, which put them out of the public for only eight years.
Incidentally, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were released when they were 18, and England provided them with new, secret identities, college degrees, two-bedroom homes, and anonymity for the rest of their lives. Even though Venables has married and HAS A CHILD, his wife does not know that the man she married was one of the Merseyside killers. Thompson allegedly got into problems with heroin and is now on methadone maintenance. His life partner, a man, shares his home.
I cannot begin to imagine how the parents of Jamie Bulgar must feel, knowing these “men” are out and free to do as they please. Incidentally, Jamie’s mother recently learned where one of the killers, Robert Thompson, lives now and went there to confront him. But, she says, she “saw the pure evil in his eyes” and was utterly speechless, and “he was ’round the corner, and then gone” before she’d said a word. He had not recognized her, she believes.
Jamie Bulger was the same age as my three daughters, and I know I watched them with a whole new consciousness after these terrible murders, and I’d bet a lot of mothers did the same. He was a beautiful little boy and I will never forget what these monsters did. That case just continues to haunt me. . . probably always will.
Sorry if my post was too long. . . . I did try to edit, but it’s not my strong suite.

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Tonnie December 30, 2007 at 7:29 am

I agree completely. It’s definitely one of those “I-remember-where-I-was-when-I-heard” things, and Lennon moved me so much with his music and words that I mourned his death as though I’d known him personally.
And you’re spot-on regarding “the end of an era and the beginning of something dark and horrific”… I could not have put that into better words. It truly does seem as though that’s when. . . you know, when darkness started to happen all around us. I don’t put it down as well as you, but I do know just where you are when you say this, and you say it well.

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