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Thriller Thursday: Getting Personal

Due to this post from Roni Loren (thank you for the warning, Roni) I’ve decided to remove most photos from Thriller Thursday. I hope you’re still able to enjoy them!

We’re doing something different this Thursday. Unfortunately crime touches most of us in one way or another. Whether it’s someone we know or something heinous that’s happened in our community, most of us have a story to tell. I want to hear yours.

My first experience with the dark side of life came at a young age. When I was nine years old, my sister’s best friend was murdered by a classmate. My parents and I had moved out to Iowa while my sister finished her senior year in high school in Indianapolis.

I can remember my brother calling and crying as he told the story. A classmate with a crush had shown up at the friend’s house and made advances at her. When she refused, he attacked and began to strangle her. He didn’t intend to kill her, but his rage got the best of him. She was eighteen.

It was incredibly hard for my sister, and the loss changed her forever. I was too young to understand at the time, but the murder sparked my interest in studying criminals.

Has your neighborhood or (God forbid) your family been touched by violent crime? What impact did it have on your life?

27 comments on… “Thriller Thursday: Getting Personal”

  1. I was acquainted with one of Ted Bundy’s victims. To this day it haunts me. Also, a friend of my family lost their daughter. She was working the night of her 21st birthday and at the end of her shift she walked to her car and a man grabbed her. Her family had a surprise party waiting for her but she never made it. They were terribly shaken and the father never recovered. Eventually a man was convicted of the crime and spent 9 years in prison. The day he got out, the father of the murder victim was there with a gun. He said he couldn’t stand the thought that this guy would be able to do it again. I always wonder why this doesn’t happen more.

    • First off, I’m so glad you replied. I keep forgetting to tell you I’m having trouble signing up for updates at your new blog. Keeps giving me an error.

      Secondly, WOW. That’s intense. I bet it haunts you. The story about the daughter is so sad. That’s a huge fear I have as a parent. I feel bad for the father, and I’m not sure I’d handle the situation any better.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Thankfully, no. But yesterday I learned that one of my friends lost her brother-in-law in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver. The driver was arrested, not that that really helps ease the pain my friend and her family are feeling right now.

    • That’s terrible. Nothing helps to ease the pain, but it’s good the driver was arrested. There’s no excuse for driving drunk. It’s ridiculous. So sorry for your friend’s loss.

    • I don’t mean to blogjack but I just had to reach out and say how sorry I am to hear about that Kelly. My mother-in-law was killed by a drunk driver in 2009 and it’s a devasting loss to go through. My thoughts and prayers are with your friend and her family!!!

  3. As a newbie grade 7 teacher I read a story by one of my students where he killed his father. It had nothing to do with the topic I’d assigned. The rage and power of the boy’s words sent shivers down my spine and I suspected he was not just writing fiction. There was much more to his story. I went to the principal for direction. I showed him the boy’s work. He told me to relax. I was, after all, just a first year teacher. What did I know?

    Four or five years later I read in the newspaper the boy killed his father. The man was abusive to the entire family, and the boy, now of legal age, was sent to penitentiary. It still bothers me that had I been more persistent a crime could have been prevented and many lives changed.

    • That is extremely frightening. I can’t believe the principal told you to relax. That boy’s story is a huge red flag. Normal kids don’t write about killing their parents, period.

      Your story is so sad, but you were in a tough position. Who knows what would have happened – if anything – had you persisted. Hindsight is always 20/20. Wish I could offer better advice.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. When I was 12, my Aunt was hijacked from her job at a 24/7 gas station. She was raped, beaten and sodomized. She spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from wounds. She lived with us at the time so I remember waking in the middle of the night several times to her screams. They were horrible screams. She spent several years in counseling to overcome the trauma.

    • Oh my goodness! That’s just awful! I can’t imagine dealing with that kind of trauma. And I’m sure witnessing her trauma had a lasting effect on you. I hope she’s managed to move forward and lead a good life.

  5. Stacy, wow – the horrible stories people have here are heart breaking, yours included. I have a different kind of story, one involving mental illness. My cousin, who was living with my aunt and uncle at the time, took a shot gun one night and shot her 9 year old son, Brandon, in the head, then turned the gun on herself. My cousin, a lost soul, had become delusional and suicidal over time, we think from the LSD and Angel Dust she did for many years. She slept outside her son’s room on the floor to protect him as she thought someone was trying to get him. Our only consolation is that we have to believe she was protecting him in taking him with her. I will never forget the double funeral of them. Seeing Brandon’s sweet face so still and peaceful. My son plays with the wooden train tracks of Brandon, the cousin, he will never know. My son is nearly 9 now. The train tracks were marked with red crosses to tell them apart from his friend’s tracks when they played together. I look at them, remembering him and his mom.

    • Yes, they are.

      Your story is heartbreaking as well. To kill one’s old child…I can’t even imagine. And yes, drugs over time will do that to a person. Paranoia is a terrible thing, and it’s amazing the crimes that have been committed because of drugs. I’m so sorry for your lose. The funeral had to be unbearable. Very bittersweet about the train tracks.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I don’t know anybody who was the victim of a murder, not personally anyway.

    Back in the 60s–before I was born–my cousin Mike had done three tours of Vietnam. While he was on leave–he wanted to continue to serve his country–he was stabbed to death in a bar fight…by a fellow serviceman. This episode was very upsetting to my family, and I recall them having many discussions about it as I was growing up.

    Now–what I think got me interested in studying crimes and criminals. When I was very small, Adam Walsh was kidnapped and murdered. My parents–probably thinking it would keep me from wandering away from them in public places–told me about what had happened and had me watch the report on the news. They told me this could happen to me if I wasn’t careful.

    I guess it awakened my interest in crimes and criminals. I’ve always been very aware that I need to be cautious because I am not exempt from meeting a grisly fate.

    Good post. I enjoyed it.

    • That is just awful. Too many servicemen meet tragic ends when they come home. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

      As for Adam Walsh, his kidnapping is actually one of my earliest memories. I was only three, but I can remember hearing my parents talk about it, and I was told about him as I grew up.

      I hadn’t thought about it, but I’m sure hearing about it probably influenced me as well.

      Thanks for sharing:)

  7. My family and I lived in Miramichi, NB when Allan Legere ( escape and was on the loose for about 7 months. During that time, he committed four additional murders. I wasn’t personally touched, he didn’t kill anyone I knew personally, but the entire community lived in fear during that time.
    And you already know that in 2009 my mother-in-law was brutally killed by a drunk driver. We had to undergo 18 months and well over a dozen court dates before we saw the driver found guilty and sentenced to his meager 3-year jail sentence. Just a few weeks ago, we were notified that he has applied for parole and if granted (which is likely), he’ll have served less than ONE YEAR in prison. It’s very difficult not to let the anger and resentment take over our lives but we all realize that if we do, we give the low life real estate in our lives and he’s already taken enough. So we try hard to live in HER honor instead but…it’s hard!

    • That is super creepy! I would have been terrified, too. I often think I watch too many crime shows, but I’m always worrying about something terrible happening, like someone breaking in.

      Yes, I knew that about your mother-in-law. So sad. Only 3 years and now parole. I would have a hard time not being extremely bitter. I hope he’ll be forced to have his drinking monitored.

      And good for you. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I have too many to mention, unfortunately, but the one that stands out in my mind is when my first husband’s brother killed a man in the early 90’s. He was just 21 years old and went to prison for 60 years. You think you know how you feel about murder until someone you love becomes a murderer. Then your mind goes into a tailspin. It was horrible on the family!

    I know at least three other sets of male acquaintances where one man I knew shot and killed the other over a woman, drugs, or family dispute. I have often thought about writing about these crimes or just about these men since I have access to them if I would choose to contact them.

    • Oh my goodness. I can’t imagine. You think you know a person and how you’d react, but yes, when it’s murderer in the family, that’s a whole other matter. My heart goes out to your family.

      And man, if you choose to write about any of the crimes you have access to, please let me know. I think there would be some fascinating information in there.


  9. My best friend was raped and left for dead when we were in junior high. Thank God she was only unconcious. She came to and found our school custodian, who called an ambulance. It totally changed our lives. She was pulled out of school and I didn’t see her again for many years. I always felt her family over-reacted in this regard, kind of treating her like it was her fault, and like she should be ashamed. Her entire family fell apart after this, parents divorcing, etc.

    • Simply awful. I don’t know how one copes with something like that, and any woman who can survive mentally after an assault is inspiring. That’s so sad her family didn’t handle it well. I know hindsight’s 20/20, but it sounds like they made a terrible situation even harder. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jessica R. Patch

    I feel like I’ve seen a lot of violence and death. Sad isn’t it? When I was in elementary school, a boy in high school came home and murdered his siblings and parents. The parents had been severely abusive (not saying that justifies murdering them) but I can’t remember why he killed the siblings. It was all over the news. When I was a freshman in college my youngest cousin (16) shot herself. I know she suffered from bi-polar disorder, but the teenagers that were there with her said it was an accident. We’ll never know the truth. And then a couple of years ago, my brother in law was killed by a drunk driver. He was coming home from work on his motorcycle. Those are just a few. Sorry about your friend. That is horrifying. 🙁

    • That is very sad. No, that doesn’t justify murdering them but it helps understand the thought process. Killing the siblings is extreme. Maybe he wanted to save their torment, too.

      So sorry about your cousin. Bi-polar disorder is scary. And I think the not knowing is the worse. Yet another drunk driving death. My brother was killed in a car accident, but thankfully alcohol wasn’t involved. Can only imagine the anger.

      Thanks for sharing!

  11. Luckily, I don’t know anyone personally with murder in the family, except our SheWrites sister Kim Sisto-Robinson. I was raped at knifepoint at 19, and while not exactly a fun experience, it wasn’t that bad, all things considered. I’ve had other experiences, including a verbally abusive and occasionally physically abusive relationship, that have hurt my heart/psyche more. I also know (even one is too many) people with drunk driving deaths in the family, battering and sexual abuse of children in the family, and suicide.

    One point on mental illness; while it’s true that sometimes the mentally ill person inflicts violence on others, and I don’t want to downplay the tragedy when that occurs, statistically the mentally ill are much more likely to be *victims* of violent crime than perpetrators.

    Love and support to all here who’ve experienced violence on a personal level.

  12. I’m very late checking in, but I was stalked by a stranger back in the early 1980s before it was a recognized crime. The guy lived at my apartment complex, and I was the fourth woman (that we know of) that he did this to at that complex. He would pound on my door for hours at a time. Or he would call me while beating his wife, saying that if I didn’t answer the door the next time he came, I’d be his next victim. I lost my job over this because I was terrified to leave my apartment. My neighbors called the police on him, and they basically told me that unless he actually assaulted me, there was nothing they could do. It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me. I had to move out of my apartment, giving up all my deposits and buying out my lease, to get away from the stalker. People from my church came over and moved me, while several male friends made sure that the guy didn’t leave his apartment. Frightening!

    I don’t believe that stalking became a crime in most states until the ’90s, after the 1989 murder of Rebecca Schaeffer, the young star of My Sister Sam.

    • Liz,
      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been for you. His phone calls sound terrifying – I hope to God he was eventually arrested for beating his wife, not to mention what he did to you. I’m thankful you were able to escape him. I do remember the Rebecca Schaeffer murder. It’s sad it took such an awful murder to make stalking a crime. Thanks again for sharing.

      • It’s amazing that it took a celebrity being murdered to make that against the law, isn’t it? I wonder how many non-celebrities died while it wasn’t a crime. As far as his wife, we are still in the dark ages in terms of intimate violence being treated seriously. I doubt anything was ever done.

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