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A Little Less Safe

October 7th, 2009 (05:34 pm)

current mood: sad

A horrible event took place this week in the little town in New Hampshire where my sister lives. Mont Vernon is an idyllic village west of Manchester, a town where a lot of residents leave their houses unlocked. It's filled with woods, twisty roads, home lots of several acres, and quaint old buildings. There is no Wal-Mart, no Starbucks, and no McDonald's. In fact, there are no stores at all except for an old-fashioned general store. It's the kind of town where if you need a building permit, the town clerk will direct you to the barn where the guy in charge of permits can always be found milking his cows at 5 p.m.
Until this week, there had not been a murder in Mont Vernon in something like 50 years. Unfortunately, that's no longer true. Late Saturday night, four teenage boys decided it would be interesting to murder someone. They chose a house at random, simply because it was isolated. And they agreed they would go inside and kill everyone there. They broke into the house, found a woman asleep in her bed, and hacked her to death with a knife and a machete. They attacked her 11-year-old daughter as well, but the daughter -- who takes karate lessons with my nephew -- is a black belt. She managed to fight them off and to run for help, despite the fact that she had broken a leg and sustained other serious injuries in the struggle. Her dad was in London on business at the time.

So a 42-year-old mom -- a nurse and a runner who was well-liked in the neighborhood, is dead. An 11-year-old girl is lying in a Boston hospital, where she is expected to survive but will have to face the rest of her life without her mother and with traumatic memories of the worst night of her life. A whole town is shell-shocked. And it's all because four twisted boys thought murder might be fun. The only bright spot (besides the heroism of a young victim) is that the murderers were quickly arrested. One of them had even posted on his Facebook page about how much he loves blades. Two of them go to high school with my niece.

It's so easy to be lulled into thinking that things like this don't happen in places like Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. The story reminds me a little of the horrific shooting of Amish schoolgirls a few years ago in Pennsylvania -- not in the particulars of the crime but in the incongruity of the setting. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.
And we're all left feeling a little less safe.

Let's be careful out there.