Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Murder In The Headlines

Saturday was a much more hectic day than I prefer it to be. We only work half a day on Saturdays at the newspaper, and even then we're only in the office long enough to get the paper on the press and out the door and get a jump start on Monday's work. I do as much work ahead of time on Friday afternoon as I can and I hit the door on Saturday with as little work to do as possible.

That's not lazy. That's just efficient. I'd rather be ahead of the deadline than coming in right at it, particularly when getting the work done means I can go home for the weekend.

This past Saturday was an aberration.

If you live in my neck of the woods, or quite possibly Indiana or North Carolina, then you've heard the story of the murdered woman who was found in the trunk of a Mustang in Clifton Forge. I heard about this when I walked in the door Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and it prompted me to spend a very anxious 90 minutes tracking down and writing a story that would garner headlines in at least three states that we know of.

Without going in to any great detail, a young woman was murdered and her childhood friend is suspected of doing the deed. He allegedly drove from North Carolina with the body in the trunk and was discovered in downtown Clifton Forge late Friday evening after some nifty police work done on the spur of the moment.

The details of the manhunt, capture and suspected crime all made the top of the front page in Saturday's Virginian Review. I'm happy to say that we beat everyone with the pertinent details Saturday, simply by the fact that the story took place on our home turf and our earlier Saturday morning press deadline allowed us to get it on the streets.

But we missed it.

I can't help thinking that we've missed the real story. We'd never get it, of course. The only way to do that is to sit down with the suspect (which any lawyer worth his briefcase would never allow) get a confession (if he did it) and then ask him the burning question: Why? Why would anyone who isn't even old enough to legally drink throw his life away by killing another? What prompted it? How could you do it?

I've been stewing over those questions since Saturday morning. They're stirring in the back of my mind and I can't stand it. There are two human beings at the center of this, one whose life has ended and the other who may or may not have ended that life, and all I can do is sit and wonder what the story is.

The question of "why" is turning out to be more compelling to me than the question of "who done it."

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