As a True Crime Writer, you walk a fine line between appearing to sensationalize a crime and educating the public. Determining the “worst” crimes is also subjective; to decide which is worse, a woman beaten versus a child molester, is an impossible call. It is often difficult to write the true story; crime is often distorted by rumor and sensationalism. This 2012 I attempted to keep victims, the truth, and education in the forefront as I penned the following:
The school shooting in Sandy Hook - it felt as if the nation stopped breathing when we learned a gunman had entered a school and left over 20 children and staff dead. We heard of teachers who were heroes to the end, protecting the children. The argument over gun laws became a hot topic; everyone tried to find a reason why this young man walked into a school, shot at innocents, and then took his own life. There may never come a time when we discover the truth as to why; sometimes a crime has no reason.
The bullying/suicide of Amanda Todd - a lovely young girl is sexually harassed via the World Wide Web and some of her peers. In a desperate attempt to escape she turned to drugs, alcohol, self abuse, and, then, suicide. A young lady who has the world ahead of her was so depressed she hung herself in her own home. At this writing, law enforcement are still attempting to locate the perpetrator, who has been falsely identified by vigilante group ‘Anonymous.’ Todd’s mother was denied attendance to an anti-bully conference, and people continue to harass Todd in death.
The Jerry Sandusky abuse case - a popular coach was found guilty and convicted to prison for abusing young men who attended Penn State. Sandusky, once light was shed on the case, was a typical child molester. The National Center for Missing & Abused Children report there were an estimated 747,408 register sex offenders in the U.S. in 2011. About 2,000 of these offenders cannot be located because they have absconded or just ‘disappeared.’
The David Johnson, Jr. domestic violence case - Johnson kept his wife hostage for several days, systematically beating, raping, torturing, and cutting her. She fled out of the house and he chased her in a vehicle. A good Samaritan rescued her and called the police. 50% of U.S. women will be in a violent relationship in their life. More women are murdered by their spouse/significant other than killed in vehicle collisions, home accidents, and plane crashes combined. The Samaritan received a commendation from her employer for her actions at the urging of this writer. Johnson has yet to go to trial.
Tabitha Tuders- according to witnesses, she walked out of her house on April 29, 2003 to walk to the school bus stop. She was never seen again. There have been numerous false sightings, arguments about Metro Police’s role in the case, and memorials every year. Yet there have been no positive leads in what happened to a 13 year old little girl. This writer continues the search.
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Photo credit of J. Yates
Photo of Tabitha Tuders courtesy the Tuders family