Monday, October 15, 2007

Murder on my mind

Last Thursday night at about 11:45, a man was shot in the Hillsdale Shopping Center parking lot “just west of the Wild Oats grocery store…” according to a sketchy story in Saturday’s Oregonian. He died soon after.

I’m weighing the details, trying to decide whether I should find out more about the murder.

Here is more from The Oregonian story:

The victim was listed as a Michael Christopher Mason, 25, “who was on probation for failure to register as a sex offender stemming from a 1995 juvenile sodomy conviction in which the victim was a younger relative.”

Mason’s most recent address was “along NE 162nd Avenue.” He also faced “possession of meth charges from last July.”

That was what we learned on Saturday.

I’ve been watching the newspaper for the past two days for a follow story but so far nothing. I put out a call today to our local crime prevention officer, Michael Boyer, as he is a good source who first alerted me to the story on Friday.

FOX news loves stories like this and could be a place to watch, but frankly, I can’t bring myself to monitor FOX for its breathless tabloid reporting.

Still, because I put out a little on-line newsletter, called the Hillsdale News, the murder story is testing my mission for the cyber-publication.

How much does its 200 readers need to know about the murder of a pedophile/meth head who apparently lived 10 miles from here?

I could apply some textbook news “values “ to the story as it stands:

Is it timely? Yes but the most significant event has been reported.
Is it nearby? Yes because it happened here; no because the victim doesn’t seem to be from here.
Does it involve someone prominent? Apparently not.
Does it have an impact on readers? Seemingly not.
Is it unusual? Yes, murders are rare here.

The story gets a middling score, if you accept these traditional news values as being valid. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Unless there is more to this — I know it may sound crass —this is a story for curiosity seekers and Rupert Murdoch.

Still, a few questions come to mind, the answers to which might elevate the story to significance. What was Mason doing here? Passing through? Did he present a danger to the neighborhood? Who killed him? Someone from around here? And why? Could his murder have resulted from a meth deal gone bad?

There is another curious angle. According to the Oregonian story, after Mason was shot, someone dropped him and a woman companion off at the Hopewell House Hospice in Hillsdale. Apparently the driver thought the hospice was some kind of medical facility. (“Hospice?…Hospital?…Whatever!”)

The story gave the driver’s name as “Jason,” but “Jason” didn’t stick around to see what would happen to the mortally wounded Mason and the woman, whose name, for some reason, wasn’t given in the story. As of Saturday, the police were trying to find “Jason,” who was reportedly driving a white Ford Focus at the time of the murder.

So here are more questions: Have the police found “Jason”? Where does HE live? Is he a suspect? Are there any suspects? And what about the woman? Who is she? What does she know? Was she a witness? What was her relationship to Mason, or, for that matter, to “Jason.”

Finally there’s the question that only I can answer: In light of the Hillsdale News’ mission, which is to help inform the community about events and developments important to its progress, does Mason’s murder matter?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, I think the murder in Hillsdale is an improtant matter to discuss. I am particularly interested in an explanation as to why the fire department, 1 block away, could not respond to the pleas for help from the staff at Hopewell House. I have heard that the Fire department could not respond until the police had swept the area to assure its safety. My understanding is that it took at more then 15 minutes for them to respond. That concerns me. If someone is injured we should have an imediate response.

This is a wuestion, I think is improtant for all of us to ahve answered.

3:43 PM  

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