Friday, April 18, 2014

That's One Mystery Cleared Up

I’m feeling sad, queasy and perplexed. 

Last summer I came home from vacation to find a message from the Judicial Process Department of the sheriff’s office on my door. A long account can be found here, but the short version is that I was supposed to be served with a subpoena for a Dr. Coleslaw in a murder case, and after they had made three tries to deliver it, it was sent back to the originator per protocol. I’m not Dr. Anybody, I knew nothing about a murder, so the process server and I concluded it was all a mistake.

It occurred to me a few days later that while I honestly didn’t know anything specific about a murder, I had known someone who became a murder (and child abuse) victim, a child client of the place where I used to work. I wasn’t the child’s regular therapist, but a nagging voice in the back of my head reminded me that I may have done the child’s intake evaluation. I honestly couldn’t see how that would shed any light on the death itself, though, so I let it go.

Then the day before yesterday I heard the doorbell ring. And ring, and ring, and ring, because it was my husband ringing it, and he wanted to get back to cutting the grass before the light failed, and his leaning on the doorbell would of course make me able to exceed the speed of sound while getting to the door. I was not in a good mood when I flung it open, but cut off what I was about to say when my husband pointed to a gentleman next to him and said, “This man wants to talk to you,” before going back to the lawnmower.

I have finally trained hubby to protect me from sales calls, on the phone or in person, so I figured that wasn’t it. No, the gentleman, let’s call him Gabe*, was an investigator needing to talk to me about a murder case, specifically the case of the child I had been thinking about.

I can’t really go into any details because it involves confidential information. Let’s just say that Gabe works for the defense attorney, and his questions led me to suspect what defense strategy may be employed and why my assessment of the child’s language abilities may be pertinent to it.


I get that everyone is entitled to a defense in court. I wouldn’t want to live in a country where this was not true. I get that in a case where it is clear who committed the crime, the defense can only take the form of extenuating circumstances, and that may involve blaming the victim in some way. (That, or the “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” defense, which doesn’t work too well if you punched someone.)

But I still just want to cry, and then take a shower with steel wool, and then cry some more.

The mystery was intriguing and kind of fun.

The reality is, a child is dead.

*Gabe de Gator was the safety mascot of a company that my ex worked for years ago, so Gabe seems like a good name for an investigator. Hey, whimsey is a good coping mechanism right now.


  1. Oh, that's awful. My mom has worked with a lot of kids who have undergone horrific abuse - especially in her job a long time ago at a school specifically for emotionally disturbed kids - and she has more strength than I can understand. (Notably, she's also a speech-language pathologist.) Especially now that I have a child, I can't even imagine being able to process that sadness.

  2. I hope the case goes to court and that justice is done. As much justice as is possible given the limitations of the system at least.

    I don't know how children manage to process such horrible things, nor can I imagine being at the frontline working in that field. I couldn't do it - I mentally put my son in the place of the child, and I think I would probably go insane from stress.