Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How We Make It The Victim's Fault

Kathy, a guest blogger at Shakesville, points out a disturbing trend in the reporting on a Washington state man who murdered his five children and then himself.

It's a horrific story, and of course the press are all over it, trying to figure out why it happened. And what have they found? You guessed it -- there's a woman to blame. Or at least that's what you'd think if you read the headlines:
  • Yahoo News - "Police: Dad Killed 5 Kids Because Wife Was Leaving"

  • Kansas City Star - "Man Who Apparently Killed His 5 Children 'Devestated' [sic] over Wife Leaving"

  • AFP - "Spurned by Wife, Man Kills His Five Children, Self" (note they're his children rather than their children)

  • CNN - "Husband Saw Wife with Another Man before Killing Kids"

  • My local paper (no link available)- "Police: Kids Killed Because Mom Left"
Yep -- mom did it.

According to the AP story:
The night before, the father and his eldest daughter went in search of the wife, Angela Harrison. The daughter used a GPS feature in her mother's cell phone to find her with another man at a convenience store in Auburn, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman told her husband she was not coming home, and was leaving him for the man with her at the store. The father and the daughter left, distraught, Troyer said. Sometime after the children went to sleep, he shot them each multiple times. Four died in their beds. The fifth was found in the mobile home's bathroom, surrounded by signs of violent struggle."He wanted the kids dead," Troyer said. "It wasn't like he shot a few rounds. He shot several rounds. "Investigators believe he then returned to the area near the convenience store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Troyer said."A working theory is that he probably went back up there looking for her, wasn't able to find her, realized the gravity of what he'd done and shot himself," Troyer said.
Regardless of whether she was leaving him, whether she "spurned" him, or whether he was distraught because their relationship was ending, he made the choice to end the lives of five innocent children as a final act of control. It also seems that he intended to end his wife's life as well. This was not a one-off incident. This man had a history of abuse and previously had an open case with the state's child welfare office. He even used his daughter to help him stalk his wife.

We need to put the blame where it belongs, on a man who was willing to view his wife and children as his belongings and say, "If I can't have them, no one can."

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