Serial killer Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. died today from complications of pneumonia; the death row inmate with seven death sentences has once again made the news. What is not making the news are those he left behind: those murdered in such a cowardly fashion, their families, and friends.
Crime has what is called a "ripple effect." It is akin to throwing a rock into a pond and watching the ripples, which grow larger as they are farther from the rock. The murders and brutal attempted murder of one man affected the victims, their families, friends, schools, workplaces, businesses, communities, the cities and the state. As Paul Reid began to give press conferences from behind bars, his family members petitioning to spare his life, his case took on an international interest with those arguing either for or against the death penalty.
What happens in the legal system, in between the charges to the appeals, is the status of those left in the "closer ripples." The families, friends, and loved ones feel left behind, forgotten, and lost; they become members of a club no one wants to join. They are not just crime victims, but "crime survivors." Their stories are lost in an effort to get "the story" on the perpetrator, except for a lurid sound bite on the news or responding to "how do you feel?" When the perpetrator makes headlines.
So in closing a chapter on Paul Reid, and his killing spree across Nashville in 1997, here is what he truly left behind ... they were not just "victims;" they are loved ones.
Sarah was 16 years old. She was the friend who took the dare, the student who was first to talk to new students. She was an excellent softball player. Anyone who knew her will confirm she loved her family: even as a teen she always had to hug her mom when they were in the same room.
Steve had worked his way up to Manager. At 25 he was married with kids, and he was always talking to employees about his family. He loved the Dallas Cowboys. He gave sage advice to his young employees to stay in school, go to college, and to be good people. He liked classic rock music.
At 17, Andrea was a student at a prestigious high school. She loved books and was reading well before she went to first grade. She could be goofy, and she always spoke her mind. She like ball caps and she had just purchased a car with her own money, which she only got to drive once.
Ronald had worked his way up from housekeeping at a hotel to management at McDonalds. He was originally from Puerto Rico. He had a wife and child he loved dearly. These are his brothers with his mother, and they wear his image on their buttons.
Robert Sewell, Jr.
Robert was trying out various jobs, finding himself, while his dream was to open a horse ranch in the west. He loved science fiction and was a "Trekkie" devoted to Star Trek. He was interested in history and weapons. He was shy but he was first to volunteer when a neighbor needed help.
Michelle was 16 and she was one to try anything once, an adventurous spirit with an excellent sense of humor. She once snuck out to an Ozzy Osbourne concert and her parents were none the wiser - until a mutual friend casually reported seeing her. As a teen she had written out a last will and testament.
Angela was only 21 but she held a full-time job, was an "A" student at a prestigious college, was a new mother and wife, had just been accepted into a surgical nursing program, and was involved in ROTC. She won every spelling bee she entered as a little girl. Once she loaned a customer money to buy their child ice cream, despite her own limited financial budget.