Is the animal in all of us?
The above question is one I have asked myself quietly over the years while covering heart-wrenching stories of innocence lost and horror delivered by the worst of us.
Many a reporter has these tales, it is an eerie and at times stomach-turning front row seat we are allowed courtesy of our notepads and pens.
Murders, rapes, spousal abuse, cop killer and pedophile trials, for me, these assignments have left me with a lifetime of memories I carry and leave me asking – is this animal, that could do such things, in all of us?
With drama of Tori Stafford unfolding and slowly taking its expected turns as suspects were arrested and the search for the little girl’s body continues, I started to ask myself that question again. This angelic looking child, like other children before her who have been taken from us by bastards, animals and beasts – it is the only way I can refer to them – did nothing wrong and she was taken from her family, her friends, her life.
For all the psychological pontification I have seen in court. From all the cold, heartless confessions and explanations from the guilty I have heard, I am always left wondering, and never satisfied with the professional answer provided to one question : what makes you want to take the life of one so innocent?
Blame the parents. Blame their environment. Blame, blame, blame… the blame game is always the same for these animals, these murderers, these rapists, these pedophiles. Never their own fault, it always someone else or inexplicable as they sought to feed on their own urges.
In the Stafford case, yes, the two suspects arrested have not been found guilty yet through the court of law but all indications are that they in fact are. Their ages, 28 and 18. They will still get to have full lives of some kind, whether behind bars or not, they get to live. They get to enjoy and greet days like today, alive and breathing, as a deep blue sky stretches overhead and this morning sunlight streams in as I write this.
On a television program I once watched, a child murderer, who kidnapped and killed every 10 years or so, described himself as a big, old river crocodile, who lives at the bottom of the dark, murky river and every once in awhile needs to come to the surface to feed, and then heads back down, after finding some prey, to digest and wait for his pangs of hunger to feed again.
This image is striking to me, in some of the stories I have covered, the guilty exploded in one moment or rage or after years of building up to that point when they took a life and were never so systematic.
To think, among us, as way take a subway, walk along a sidewalk or are stuck in traffic, there are such animals, like this river crocodile, waiting to feed, disturbs, angers and frustrates me.
I do not think the animal that can take the life of an innocent is in all of us. It cannot be, because if it were, there would be no point to any of our lives.
Peace and strength to the Stafford family.
Peace and strength to the rest of us too.