Thursday, July 07, 2005

It Can't Happen Here

9/11 was a horrid horrible thing. It was done by evil, horrible people with their own agenda and no value for human life. It was done, however, from a distance. A cold, calculated plan was drawn up and executed and beautiful, innocent people died. My heart went out that day to their families and friends and I wished, like everyone else to understand "why?".

As ugly and awful as that day was, I remember years earlier in 1966 when I heard of a man named Richard Speck who murdered eight student nurses in Chicago. My friends and I would talk about what happened and try and figure out if someone came in our house if we would be brave enough to hide under our beds as the only survivor did. For many years I would worry that I wouldn't be able to get under my bed - or where I would hide if that wasn't an option. It became an obsession. My mother tried to make me feel better, saying "It can't happen here".
That worked for a few years...

In September 1982 my world turned upside down when a boy named Johnny Gosch disappeared from my hometown while delivering newspapers in his local neighborhood. A few months later, Eugene Martin vanished - assumed abducted also. He, too, was a paperboy and the similarities between the cases were shocking.

Here we are 20-some years later and I am stunned by the recent abductions, murders, and child abuses that seem to be so frequent in my state. (I won't even get into the nation as a whole!) A little five-year-old girl's body was found today after a week-long search. Murder, then dumped in the river, appear to be the result.

A sexual predator, released after doing 10 years time, abducts and abuses two children after killing their mother, older sibling and their mother's boyfriend. Suddenly the abductor and the older child, a girl, appear together... arrests are made... terrible tales are told. Still there is a small boy unaccounted for.

A mother from out East is coming to the state to try and find her two childrens' bodies that her estranged husband allegedly dumped along Interstate 80 somewhere.

A sex offender, released, abused and tortured and murdered an 11-year-old girl. He has no remorse.

A family who were supposed to be sheltering and nurturing foster children tortured them, starving them and finally beating one to death and burying him - only to found out a couple of years down the road.

A teenage girl set fire to her parents' house, killing her two younger siblings. She was trying to kill the stepfather who had been sexually abusing her for many years.

This is the tip of the iceberg. I'm a mother of four, a grandmother of one. I am appalled that human beings can do this to their young. It's bad enough that we choose to maim and murder each other as adults, but to prey on the young ones - the ones that look to us for guidance and shelter and security. That is just evil beyond words.

Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin are still lost... but not forgotten. To this day Noreen Gosch carries the search for her son. Divorced... her life forever changed by that morning, she still believes he's out there somewhere.

The first blow to innocence is never ever wiped from our memories. It isn't something I dwell on every day, but with each day that brings new horrors for our children it sparks that memory of a little boy going out to deliver newspapers on a September mornings' dark dawning and never to be seen again. What do we tell our children? Don't talk to strangers. You'll be safe with me. Then they are getting taken out of front yards and even their own beds.

Sorry, Mom... but it can happen here.