Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Touched by Murder

The other night my husband and I were talking, and I was relaying the story of the murderer I knew. Sure, I didn't know him well. He was closer to my brother's age, and in my sister's grade (having been left back a couple times). I was twelve when it happened, and one of his step-sisters was in my grade. If I remember right, he was eighteen or nineteen.

It was Christmas day when he finally snapped and killed his father. It came as a shock to those who didn't know the guy. To those who knew him, no one was surprised. You see, his father had been abusing him for years. This guy - I'll call him Fred - was a handsome boy but withdrawn and a little creepy (from what I remember). I'm guessing that most people thought he was just born shy. In reality, he was shy because of the abuse he endured. In the end, everyone knew the truth.

Fred took his father's shotgun and within seconds, the abuse stopped. Unfortunately for Fred, when he snapped, he really snapped. He turned the gun on his step-mother, who had only been married to his father for a short time. (Thank goodness he left his step-siblings alone. They were in the basement when this all happened.) After he killed his step-mother, he left the house. I can only assume he was looking for solace when he went to his ex-girlfriend's house. He didn't find any. She was the next to die. When her screams brought the neighbor over to investigate, that poor man took a blast from the shotgun, too.

When they finally caught Fred, he was charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder - the neighbor lived. He got serving three consecutive life sentences in a prison in Michigan, plus twenty-five years tacked on for the attempted. Last I heard from my mother, he was still alive and still in the same place. (An internet search of his name revealed nothing, but this happened almost 26 years ago.)

So, anyway, the following morning, I couldn't get poor Fred out of my head. What his life must've been like to make him snap so hard, what the kids in the basement must've thought or felt when they heard the shots and what they must've gone through when they came upstairs, where they all are now. And a story idea was born.

Seems a little opportunistic when I say it now, but the plan is to take the reality and mesh it with the fiction - changing names and those events I wasn't privy to. Even so, I'm still a little torn about doing it. I would really have to change it and also change the way I think about Fred as it relates to the fictionalization.

You see, I feel sorry for Fred. I always have. I also feel sorry for his second through fourth victims. The only person who doesn't deserve an iota of pity in this story is his father. But whatever his father did, there should've been another way. Fred just couldn't see it. In the end, I think Fred's father got what he deserved, and afterwards, Fred got what he deserved for killing those innocent people. That doesn't mean it didn't all suck, but finding the right way to write it - hitting the balance between sympathy for Fred and anger for his father without excusing the awful things Fred did.

All those lives ruined...

Anyway, has anything like this ever touched your life? Would you write about it if it did?


1 comment:

Kristen Painter said...

I would definitely write about it. Some of the best ideas are born out of reality. Go for it!