Letting Murder Prevail

Note:  I have replaced a family name with ****** to protect their privacy.  On a very bleak, November Sunday when I was in fourth grade, I came downstairs just before my mom and dad returned from Mass.  (They always brought home donuts from the best donut shot that ever was, Donut Drive-In on Chippewa.  But if I got up before they got home, my sister would let me eat ice cream off of the spoon.) My mom was going into the hospital to have a biopsy on a lump deep in her breast.  She’d been acting funny because of that.  So when she stepped in the foyer in front of my dad and stopped, eyes open wide, mouth slightly agape, Susie, Mickey, and I just stared.  My maternal grandmother died eleven months earlier, so we were all knew the signs that Mom was about to cry. “Sue ***** died,” she said.  “What?” asked my sister, Sue, also crying. I don’t know if she asked rhetorically in shock or if she hadn’t understood Mom’s sobbing mumble.  My dad interpreted. “Sue ****** was murdered last night,” he said in a low, confident, solemn voice that, perhaps, he’d developed during his ten years as a policeman. Sue ***** was my best friend Danny’s oldest sister.  She had been in my oldest sister TeeTee’s class.  (Her real name is Mary, but we called ther TeeTee.)  She worked as a cashier at a drug store a couple of blocks from her house.  The previous evening, two brothers from Florissant, Missouri, two brothers we would later learn made a habit out of this practice, entered the store, took money and drugs and the two employees:  Sue ***** and the pharmacist-manager. The brothers drove the pair to Affton High School’s football field about six miles south of the drug store.  There, they took Sue and her boss to the fifty yard line, ordered them to lie down face first, and shot each one in the back of the head with .45 caliber pistol held about eight inches above their heads.  The *****’s owned a Orpheum Cleaners on Grand Blvd., and Catholic parishes have a lot of dry cleaning needs.  Mr. ***** cleaned every piece of cloth associated with Epiphany, its priests, its nuns, and its school and gymn, and everything else.  Mrs. *****, a seamstress, mended and adjusted those items.  When Monsignor Sullivan, the legendary pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord, visited the *****’s house that Sunday, he broke down in tears in their living room. Mrs. ***** squeezed the venerable priest’s elbow and told him, “Monsignor, don’t cry.  She is so much better now.” Monsignor would later admit, “That was supposed to be my line.”  In all the years I knew the *****es and their many children, I never heard them speak ill of the murderers.  Danny and I spoke ill of everyone on the planet, yet I never once heard him say anything bad about the men who killed his sister. The *****es simply prayed that justice would be done as God’s will, that the murderers would repent, convert, confess, and reconcile with Christ, even if reconciliation with the community was impossible.  As they saw it, the true tragedy of the crime was the crime itself. Now, I am quite confident that I lack that kind of faith.  But observing it was instructive.  The ***** family ennobled itself by their measured faith.  They grieved profoundly, of course, but the murderers could not change them.  Evil proved far too weak.  It could take their daughter, not their faith, not their dignity, not their love of God and God’s creation. Today, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi confirmed the jury’s recommendation that Scott Peterson be put to death for murdering his wife and their unborn child.  Laci’s family addressed Peterson in the manner of Ron Goldman’s father.  I wonder if the notariety and publicity is to blame.  In so many of these high profile murder cases, the victim’s survivors often turn into monsters of grief themselves. We don’t know what Goldmans or Nicole’s sister or Laci’s parents were like before their loved one was murdered.  But we know what they’re like now, at least when the cameras roll: pathetic, ugly, and hateful. Please, I am not criticizing these poor people.  As I said, if someone murdered one of my kids, I’d probably be right there with them.  But I pray I wouldn’t.  Does evil murder to end a life?  That’s so inefficient, don’t you think?  And if it killed Sue ***** to end her life, what did it really accomplish?  Speed her to an early eternal reward?  Sue was a model girl, a devout Catholic. If not for the evidence of the bullet wound, one might have thought God simply wanted to free her from the hell that life on earth can be.  No, I think evil is craftier.  I think the life taken in a murder is actually a loss leader.  “So I lose one to the Anointed.  What of it?  Look at how many I turn against Him.”  The Goldmans and the Grantskis seem to have devoted their lives to hating their daughters’ killers.  I hope I am wrong.  I pray that, if I am right, they find ways to untangle themselves from the deadly chains of anger and hatred.  Let the People of California under the laws of the state and its courts carry the burden of executing Scott Peterson.  Let God dish out OJ’s punishment.  Don’t devour your own souls over the likes of those putrid men.  They are not worth it. Others: Steven Taylor breaks his silence on Laci Peterson--somewhat