May 9, 2008

The Soul's Lament

Sadly, this posting is not a work of fiction.
The staccato dirge of gunfire shattered the serenity of a quiet neighborhood early Monday morning as a husband and wife were shot and killed in their own home. On the 911 tape you can hear the woman screaming. Then, just before the last gunshot rang out you can hear her say, “But I still love you.” The killer then got on the line and very calmly told the dispatcher that he had just killed his parents. He told the dispatcher to make sure the responding deputies knew that he would be unarmed and waiting for them in the front yard.

This was no crime of passion, no uncontrolled fury, no blind rage. The 22-year-old son stole the murder weapon from the home of a friend the day before the killing and then bought ammunition for the .357 six-shot revolver.

Ironically the parents had just hours before filed a missing persons report on their son’s behalf. It seems they knew he had the gun. Perhaps they worried he might use it for suicide. Instead he committed patricide and matricide. Murdered in the place where they should be the safest. Dead in their home in a quiet affluent neighborhood on the marsh with a view of the river.

What could possibly explain how a son could plan and carry out the execution of his parents? Perhaps nothing. Unfortunately such crimes are not all that uncommon and this generation certainly has no monopoly on horrendous crimes and homicidal killers. It would appear as if murder is part of who we are. Cain, meet Abel.

Some hold that owning weapons is our inalienable right, that bearing arms is one of the pillars upon which our nation rests. In fact I was speaking just last week with a friend (born and raised on France) about weapons in our society. He said this aspect of American culture id difficult for him to grasp. Our is a culture of violent video games and violent television, a culture rich with killing both real and imagined. A society thoroughly imbued with the cult of the gun. A society where a young man can shoot and kill his loving and supportive parents in cold blood then calmly and with little emotion admit to the deed.

The victims’ married daughter (the killer’s sibling) lives directly across the street from her parents’ home and wanted to see them before they were removed from the scene. As the second body bag was loaded in the hearse she began wailing, crying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” It still brings me to tears just thinking about it. I have heard that cry before but it has always been the cry of a parent losing a child. It is the sound of anguish, of grief unbearable, the soul’s lament. Pray you never hear it.

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