The Cycle (IV): Kintsukuroi

I’m going make this week’s prompt another short story in the same series.  You may find all the previous installments under the title “The Cycle,” with a theme and number, in the Hive Index.   I’ve been lazy about my fiction, and lately a reader has asked me about this story series, so…here goes. 

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The Cycle (IV):  Kintsukuroi

Angela had spent the whole weekend with her husband’s journal.  That journal and not much else.  She took the phone off the hook.  She didn’t eat.  Her path through house consisted of a truncated and zagging path between the armchair by the cold fireplace, the refrigerator where she kept multiple bottles of Evian, and the bathroom on the first floor.  It had been hard enough to sleep in the bed her and her husband had shared, ever since his crimes were laid bare…literally.  After she found the journal and read the first few entries, Angela gave over the idea of sleep completely.  Every time she closed her eyes, a fusillade of gruesome images kept her from achieving anywhere near the peace of mind required to relax into sleep.  Most of the images were montages conjured by her own mind– the few details the detective had shared with her from the crime reports , and the faces of the women as they had been before her husband had “fixed” them.  With these details, and the sickly ambiguous writing in her husband’s journal, prose that were somehow equal parts self-important, saccharin, and terrifying, Angela tortured herself with vivid scenarios of what had happened to each of the women.  In these scenarios, she recognized her husband’s face, his handsome face, but his eyes burned with the light of insanity, practically glowing, like the eyes of a comic book demon.

That he thought of these women, his victims, as finished products– as his art– was sickening.  That he thought he was “fixing” them, making them better somehow, like a craftsman repairing a piece of broken pottery with powdered gold, was untenable.   But his vanity and the truth of his hedonistic pursuits were revealed by the fact that all of the women had similar characteristics.  Petite, pale blonde hair, tiny aristocratic nose…   Fragile looking, yet with an undefinable verve.  Like a flower.

Like her sister.

Jill.  It was impossible to tell if the obsession had started with her, or ended with her.  Were all his victims merely substitutes, or were they practice for his endgame?

Or had Jill’s disappearance merely been a result of her conveniently fitting his ideal victim type?  No.  There she was, fooling herself again.  At the very least, he knew who Jill was when she had taken her.  She figured in to all of this somehow.

All of these horrid images and ideas chased one another through her mind, keeping her restless and nauseous, and wearing at her sanity like an angry dog wearing a groove in the ground at the end of its leash.

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The Death Penalty: Time to Reconsider?

Many people are on the fence about the death penalty.  There are those that are just plain against the state sanctioned killing of anyone, no matter what their crime.  There are many who worry about the government having the power to “kill” people.  And there are some still that feel that capital punishment is not applied “fairly,” and that race, socio-economic status and other social demographics too heavily influence who receives the death penalty (and by extension, who ends up being actually executed, as opposed to spending years and appeals on death row.)

While I do support the death penalty, I do agree to an extent that it is unreliably and irregularly applied.  I think, therefore, that there needs to be a more stringent criteria for who is eligible for the death penalty, and furthermore, better follow-through if a criminal fits the criteria.  Why, for example, may one person get the death penalty for murder during the commission of an armed robbery, whereas there have been several prominent killers, like school shooter TJ Lane, and even many serial killers, such as BTK and Andre Crawford, who are spared the death penalty and instead receive life in prison on our dime?  Some might argue life in prison is more of a punishment than death.  I don’t happen to agree.  And even if it is, I think the money spent keeping these worthless people alive for many, many years could be better spent elsewhere.

And as I’ve said before, the existence of the death penalty may not be considered to be a deterrent , but I gauran-damn-tee it prevents recidivism.

As to who should get the death penalty, and who shouldn’t, you may have inferred from the above comparison of murder during felony vs. predatory serial murder, I do feel as if some people who have killed may be redeemable…and others are definitely not.

My personal criteria for who would be eligible for (and perhaps even required) to receive the death penalty, in the event of them being found guilty by a jury, is the following:

Anyone that takes another person’s life, either on purpose or by accident, during the commission of any predatory act, especially if said act involves a child under the age of fourteen.  

A predatory act would be defined as the act of stalking/kidnapping for the express purpose of committing an assault upon the victim (this would be, for example, detaining/kidnapping with intent to rape or traffic, as opposed to kidnapping for ransom.)

An added addendum to this that might seem controversial to some would possibly be:

Anyone committing felony kidnapping in conjunction with assault and/or sexual battery upon a child under the age of fourteen, whether or not said crime results in death of the victim.

I maintain that a person who kidnaps a child for sexual purposes, regardless of whether or not it results in the victim’s death, is not rehabilitate-able, and an  irredeemable waste of space!

Maybe if we’d had more stringent laws, and less bleeding hearts on the sides of the criminals, little Cherish Perrywinkle and other children like her would still be alive.

Stephanie Thornton, the mother of a previous victim of attempted kidnapping by perpetrator Donald James Smith (who had an extended criminal history) did not even realize Smith had been released, and was furious that he had the opportunity to harm another child. I happen to agree with her assessment when she said, “He needs to be electrocuted. He should never be able to get back out, never.”

Edit: In case you are still in doubt as to whether or not predatory killers/child abusers can be “rehabilitated,” let me leave you with one final example.  This case took place in England but serves to illustrate my point that some types of predatory criminals will never be “rehabilited.”
In 1993, two year old James Bulger was lured away by two ten year old boys who subsequently tortured him and killed him. Both perpetrators were imprisoned until 2001 for the crime.  Not only were they housed in prison for most of their pitiful lives to date, and eventually even received what could be described as special priviledges, and them they recieved new identities to protect them after their release, and much of this was paid for by the tax payers.

By 2010, though, Venables was back in prison for a parole violation; possession of child pornography.  So in a strange twist of happenstance, this guy actually killed a child first and then got nailed for the pornography later.  Seems he had long had a taste for victimizing children, even while he himself was a child (I suspect he was likely never a child, but always monster…)

Though Venables supposedly “posed no risk” to society upon his initial release for the killing of James Bulger, he has since exhibited behavior that suggests he is both troubled and manipulative,  continued to seek out the company of “younger” girls and women with children, and was even heard to be bragging about the killing.  Despite all of that, Venables was paroled again in 2013 and took on (his fourth) new identity.  I realize there is likely no precedent for a “Oops, we fucked up when we let him out the first time…” law, but if there ever were a need for one, it would be cases like this.  This man will never not be a danger to society.  He’s a prime candidate for someone not only deserving of the death penalty, but it is really the only good solution, unless the tax payers in his country want to pay to house him and feed him the rest of his miderable life.  Lethal injection or firing squad is frankly more than he even deserves.

Is the bulls-eye too much? I think it improves his looks.

Donald James Smith: Is the bulls-eye too much? I think it improves his looks.

The Unique Challenge of Serial Murder (orig. 04/2004, revised 2012)

All homicide cases represent their own set of investigative and administrative challenges for the police departments who must close them.  Although each police department’s administration may be slightly different, many aspects of murder investigation are similar and even standard.  Serial murder, however, is a unique crime, with unique characteristics, that often spans the boundaries of a single jurisdiction. Continue reading