Mindless murder and mayhem are things we would prefer to ignore, yet we cannot do so anymore.
"I can't even believe a bunch of middle-class, decently educated, San Fernando Valley young men would abduct a 15-year-old whose older brother they knew and used to play baseball with and then simply because they couldn't figure out what to do with him, they decided, 'We'll kill him.'"
Speaking was Ron Zonen, the prosecutor in a California case of apparent murder-for-fun, or boredom? His shock and revulsion doubtless are shared by many other reasonable people.
So the story goes, a 15-year-old boy was allegedly kidnapped last year because of ill feeling between his half-brother and a young drug dealer. The boy spent two days partying with his captors. Allegedly he drank, smoked marijuana, swam in a hotel pool and told one girl that his abduction would be a story to tell his grandchildren. Then the boy was taken to a forest near Santa Barbara last Aug. 8 and told to hike about a mile to where a shallow grave had been dug. He was shot nine times and his body was found four days later by hikers. Four men have been arrested but the apparent ringleader, a 21-year-old drug dealer, still is at large.
Prosecutors allege that the boy, Nick Markowitz, was killed after the drug dealer consulted a lawyer, learned the penalty for aggravated kidnapping was life in prison and decided to kill the youth. Apparently for convenience's sake.
Except for the ringleader, the victim, the other four defendants and the half-brother grew up together, never had been involved in serious crime and played baseball together at times. The ringleader apparently had a beef with the half-brother over drug money.
There is evidence the boy could have escaped his kidnappers several times but chose not to do so, apparently because he was enjoying himself and felt safe. What role did the four "friends" have in the murder?
What kind of mentality has seeped into our social consciousness that leaves people, young or old, so insensitive and "goal-oriented" that they participate in such tragedies, or at least allow them to happen?
The prosecutor says he "can't even believe" that such a scenario could occur. It did. And almost daily we see similar incidents that defy reason and sanity.
The prosecutor and all the rest of us better believe such things can happen and try to be ready to cope with them. Such viciousness and inhumanity seem to be increasingly infecting our society and the "I can't believe that happened" is too often more reality than possibility.
It's said that people sometimes go insane in groups and then regain sanity individually. The rate of recovery on the basis of the California killing is not the least bit encouraging.