Thursday, October 8, 2009

Could The Signs Have Been There All Along?

There's been a story in the news for the past few days and I can't seem to get it out of my head. I guess it hits a little too close to home for my comfort. In the simple little town of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, a 42 year-old mom and nurse was slain savagely by teens with a machete, her 11 year-old daughter's throat slashed and leg broken, all because they just so happened to be at home. They were victims of a random attack by a group of teens who made a pact to commit murder at a home they chose at random. You can read the story here, or I'll do my best to give you a brief re-cap of this horrific crime.

Four male teens, ages 17-19, alleged "skinheads", decided they wanted to go on a thrill kill. They chose a home at random and agreed to kill anyone who was in the home. Unfortunately for 42 year-old Kimberly Lynn Cates and her 11 year-old daughter Jaimie, whose husband was out of town on business, the teens chose their home. Authorities report that Kimberly, who was slain as she lay in her bed, never had a chance as her precious daughter's throat was slashed and left for dead. Jaimie, somehow managed to call 911 and survive the attack. Today she is in critical condition at the local hospital.

This one sent chills down my spine. I decided to talk to my kids about this crime, not to scare them, by any means, but to make them aware of the possible signs of teens and "anti-social" behavior. Yes, these teens were labeled "skinheads", all with close shaven scalps. They were labeled, "troubled", and the picture of Steven Spader, 17, Christopher Gribble, 19, William Marks, 18 and Quinn Glover, 17, twists ever so curiously. But how do you really ever know what these troubled kids are capable of? And the question begs to be asked, how do you prevent it?

The alleged ring leader, Spader, is a 17 year-old drop out who friends say had no fear. An 18 year-old who graduated from the same high school Spader once attended said anonymously:

“Because when you see a kid who looks like he has no fear, you become afraid. (Spader) said whatever he wanted to anybody. He didn’t care what the principal said. They’d tell him go to class. He wouldn’t. They’d suspend him. He didn’t care. Authority was nothing to him.”

So I ask you, was this a walking time bomb ticking? What are we, as a society, to do about something we have virtually no control over? Can we forsee, predict or better yet, prevent a senseless tragedy by looking out for the signs? Do we lock up all the goths or skinheads to protect ourselves, simply because a few deranged and evil apples spoiled it for the rest of them? I wonder. This is certainly not the first time teens have gone on a thrill kill mission, nor will it be the last, but for some reason, this one hit me like a ton of bricks.

Maybe because it could have been me. And it could have been you, or a loved one or a cherished friend.

Gone forever just for the thrill of it.


Jim said...

Absolutely horrific and tragic. My own daughter is 10, and I can't even imagine such senseless, random violence against her or anyone else's child, let alone an adult.

My cousin lives in Jamaica and was randomly attacked by a machete-wielding guy who had mental problems. He survived, but was badly injured.

Brings to mind Columbine, the Virginia Tech shootings, and all sorts of other senseless acts committed by troubled kids.

Scary, what humans are capable of.


Bruce Coltin said...

Too close to my home too. And, I can't get it out of my head either.

B.E. Earl said...

Awful story. Even more so given the woman's escape from her former hardships.

But we can't just lock up the goths and skinheads. Every sub-group in society has a few evil apples, as you say. One of the kids was a Mormon and supposedly a good student. I dunno. It's all so senseless and tragic.

Scandalous Housewife said...

This is horrible. Reminds us how fragile we are and vulnerable to one crazy who decides to let loose.

Joanie M said...

That story scares the Bejesus out of me!

Cowguy said...

Sure is a very different world Candy. Egads, and *gah*.

SkylersDad said...

What a horrific story!

LegalMist said...

How terrible and scary. And now I am feeling like an awful parent because I forgot to lock the back door before I went to sleep last night and feeling very lucky besides, because nothing bad happened. I can't shake the thought... it could have been me and my two kids.... As you say, this just hits too close to home.

On the other hand, it's one household out of what, 100 million or so in the country? So I guess in that sense, the odds are with us, not against us.

Still. What a tragic, scary, senseless event. That poor child, losing her mother and her rightful child's sense of invincibility all in one night... I feel so bad for the dad, too.

Bill Stankus said...

Whenever things like this occur I recall a college lecture about over population. The gist of it was this: A small room had only a few lab rats in it. There was plenty of space for the rats to roam, eat, sleep, etc. As the rats multiplied in numbers the room quite naturally filled up. At a certain point of crowdedness new traits showed up... rats turned on each other and there was a greater frequency of fights, violence and gang-like behavior.

Whether this model holds true for humans is speculation but it does seem we are seeing more and more random violence and nihilism in the world.

Cora said...

Exactly. How can you predict who will do something like this in the future? You can't.

I knew of a couple of antisocial kids when I went to school (one who ran down the hall smashing his fists through the glass of all the fire extinguishers when he got called to the Principal's office for skipping class) and they scared the crud out of me at the time. However, as far as I know, they never did anything newsworthy. Who knows, maybe they are perfectly respectable adults now, it's entirely possible. But, no, you can't predict who will take things to such a sick level. That's what makes it so frightening.

There was a shooting rampage in a nearby mall a few years ago where the killer called 911 before he did it and told them he was going to go on a killing spree but wouldn't say where, "follow the screams" is what he said. Several people were shot. I have never been back to that particular mall since. Too freaky. And the killers friends and family were all stunned - no-one expected him to do something like that. Crazy.

BeckEye said...

It's so senseless. But we should all probably brace ourselves for the inevitable groups who will stick up for these kids, saying they were just victims of bad parenting, violent movies, etc. etc. It's bullshit. These kids should be put in jail for the rest of their lives. They knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Unless they're mentally impaired in some way, teens are more than capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong.

The Peach Tart said...

What a horrific senseless crime.

Scope said...

I think as a society we have to come to grips with a few facts that we seem to have forgetten:

1) The world in inheritly an dangerous, visciuos place.

2) Some people are broken, but can be repaired.

3) Some people are broken, and can't be repaired.

4) Learning how to identify the difference between 2 & 3 and how to act on them.

5) Remember to make sure that the people you love know it, because life can be short and unfair.

starviego said...

The police also did extensive investigation of another location that had some kind of connection to the crime—
‘State police investigating the murder of Mont Vernon mother and attempted murder of her young daughter this week pulled a car out of a secluded boat ramp beside the Nashua River after a two-day search of the site, two witnesses said yesterday. Two witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they saw police working in and around a sedan beginning Monday. Authorities confirmed they set up a blue canopy tent at the site and spent two days collecting evidence in connection with Sunday morning”s murder...’

Also this from the same link—

‘Spader talked about how much he enjoyed smoking marijuana and showed off the “420” that [Autumn]Savoy tattooed on his arm the night before in recognition of National Get High Day on April 20, he said.’

Though I have to wonder if this might be in reference to Hitler’s birthday or the day of the Columbine massacre. Interestingly, the 911 call[from the wounded 11 year old] came in at 4:20am

Knucklehead said...

There are some very sick individuals in the world, and time has proven that the rest of us are pretty much powerless to stop it. The signs are always there, but who knows? If the parents (who usually wind up as victims, not necessarily of violence, but at least of impotence) can't get it under control early, it can run rampant later.

As for these four psychos, I'm all for a public execution.

But here's the thing...the more publicity these things get . . . the more it puts the idea in equally demented heads. Come on, main stream media, help us out a little here.

Pop and Ice said...

How terrible for this poor family and the community. Even though I live in a perfectly safe community, I'm glad I have a house alarm which is on most of the time. And yet how terrible to feel you need a house alarm!

Scott Oglesby said...

This is why I stopped reading about these kinds of things. I’m too empathetic. When I read about a dragging death of a black man by 3 white men a few years ago, I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces or an only child, but I just hate it. I stopped reading about these types of stories, especially random violence, years ago. I know you have to be aware of the dangers of the world, but I have been trying to focus only on the positives in life. And it has helped me tremendously in so many ways.

I think the world, and especially America, is so focused on negativity and violence now that it’s turned into a communal disease. Every side wants to vilify the other side. They are subconsciously teaching not just kids, but everybody, to hate anybody who is different from them. The right-wing is inspiring hatred of immigrants, gays, liberals, blacks, and even poor people. The left is inspiring hatred of rich, white, and Christians. I’m hypocritical myself when I constantly point out the hypocrisy (ironic, isn’t it?) of the fundamentalist Christians (who are even now, trying to stop hate crime legislation, and gun restrictions). The 24-hour news networks are very much to blame. When you watch the news from over here, all you see is vitriolic hatred spewed left and right. There are murders and violence in the rest of the world but not nearly as pronounced as in America (other than spots in Africa). The US has gone completely fucking crazy. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get all philosophical or preachy, that wasn’t my intent.

Even while I still lived in St. Pete Beach which is beautiful, but next to St. Pete which is extremely violent and dangerous, I stopped reading or watching anything negative, if I could help it. It made me a lot happier, and all I saw were positives in my life.

I could recommend a couple books that completely changed my thought process and made me a lot happier. E-mail me if you want.

The Dental Maven said...

Yup. There's no hope for people like that. Sociopaths. Best we can do is round them up and keep them locked up, never to return to society.