Wednesday, August 04, 2010

When Murder and Mayhem Occurs Close to Home

A murder was committed by someone our family knew, was a woman who belonged to a church couples club my parents had belonged to for years. I really can't remember how old I was--too young to have heard all the details, but old enough to eavesdrop when my mother and her friends talked about it.

This woman, who I only remember as being a nice lady like all the rest of the female members of this group, had taken an axe and buried it in her husband's skull while he slept on the couch. The women talked about how boring this man was and said they weren't at all surprised by what she'd done. Later though, I learned the woman was mentally ill and she was committed to a state hospital for the criminally insane for her crime.

My mother loved to read about lurid crimes in the newspapers (we got three when I was growing up) which was surprising since she was such a quiet, prim and proper wife. I think that this strange hobby of hers probably rubbed off on me.

When I was a pre-teen, the husband of the young woman who lived across the street, turned out to be an imposter, pretending to be a Naval officer, and her family home was descended upon by all law enforcement and military types. We turned off the lights and peeked out the windows to watch as the hillsides were combed by flashlight carrying searchers. I can't remember how it all turned out.

The first home my husband and I owned was in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. Once we were at a party at one of these men's homes--a poker party--which happened to be against the law at the time. Several other neighbors and other law enforcement officers attended along with their wives.

One of the men came from a neighboring town and while he was there someone murdered his wife. Of course he was the first suspect. He had lots of witnesses to testify to his whereabouts during the time the murder took place. As it turned out, it was random killing by an escaped mental patient.

A horribly brutal murder against a teenaged couple happened on a high school ground at night. I won't go into details, but three teenaged boys were eventually charged with the crime. This murder devastated the families of the murdered couple and the families of the boys who committed the crime. I didn't know any of them, but knew others who did.

One of the weirdest crimes happened two doors up the highway from us. The homes here are all on nearly two acre lots, so we're not that close. The family in question were recluses, an elderly mom, a daughter and two sons. We seldom saw any of them, and often wondered if the old woman was still alive.

A detective came to our house to ask if we'd seen the mother lately. Of course we hadn't. To make a long story short, she'd passed away. Her adult children (in their 60s) had rolled her up in a rug and buried her in the back yard. Nothing might have come of it except they continued to cash her state retirement check. The state sent the sheriff to check up on the woman, but no one would open the door.

What about you? Any murder or mayhem occur close to you?



Cheryl Tardif said...

Sadly, my life has been affected by two murders.

The first was committed by casual friends of ours. We met when we were stationed on the same military base. After we moved, we found out they abused their young son and starved him to death, locking him in a closet. This crime has haunted me. I had seen the signs but hadn't recognized them. I'd never seen the abuse, just things that didn't make sense. But who was I to question when they told us their doctor had told them to bind their son's legs at night because his legs weren't growing properly? They were sent to prison but are out now.

The second murder was my baby brother Jason. In January 2006, a week after he turned 28, someone killed him and left him to die alone in a cold, dark alley. Jason was a funny kid with a big heart. But he was an alcoholic as well and lived in the seedy part of Edmonton. His murderer has never been caught; there have been few leads.

Jason's death changed my life. The police found his next of kin--me--because Jason's friends told the police he had a sister named Cheryl who lived in Edmonton and had written a book about whales. Police searched online and found Whale Song. Later, I dedicated the 2007 edition to my brother Jason, whom I'll never ever forget.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Both stories are so sad. Sorry I brought up bad memories.

I suspect we all have at least one true life horror story in our past.


Cheryl Tardif said...

Don't worry, Marilyn, you didn't stir up bad memories. They are what they are, and neither are far from my mind.

Your question was a good one. People need to talk about things like this--no matter how awful the crime.

And you know what they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.


Maryannwrites said...

Wow. You have material here for a few more books, Marilyn. LOL

I have not been in close proximity to a murder. Not sure if that is a good thing or not. I have to rely on news stories to get ideas for a new book.