Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baffling murders?

The headline on the on-line version of the New York Times story reads “Mother baffled in Arizona Murders.”

The story recounts how an 8-year-old boy confessed to shooting and killing his father and another man.

I’m going to highlight a few of sections from the story. They don’t give the necessary details to end the bafflement, but they certainly point to at least one obvious line of inquiry.

First, note the boy’s age — 8.

A substance abuse counselor at the local health clinic in the remote community of St. Johns, Arizona, tells the Times reporter, “A lot of people around here say there’s nothing to do.” Boredom leads to drug abuse, she says.

Then there's the description of the boy by his mother, Erin Bloomfield, who had divorced his father, Vincent Romero, six years ago but talked to her son every week and visited every month.

Ms. Bloomfield called her son a “normal boy” who "played video games nonstop and doted on his new dog, a boxer." But in recent months, she said, he “seemed to be changing.”

That’s an interesting definition of “normal,” playing video games "nonstop." Of course 8-year-olds and all children have this habit of "changing." The question is, who, or what, is influencing those changes.

According the Times account, authorities said there was no evidence that the boy had been abused, but his mother worried he might be. The boy had told her that his father and his step-mother had quarreled often.

Recently, Ms. Bloomfield had learned that her ex-husband bought the boy a .22 rifle for hunting. To quote from the story, hunting is “a common pastime of young boys and their fathers in this town of about 4,000 people.”

It’s worth reading the Times’ story. The case is still unfolding. The investigation continues. The mother doubts her son even committed the murders. There were no witnesses; the boy confessed in a police interview.

Here’s what caught my eye: the boy’s impressionable age, his “non-stop” video gaming (question: What games? First-person shooters?) giving him a .22 rifle (not locked in a gun locker?), the possibility of child abuse or an environment of abuse, which could also include drug and alcohol abuse.

Baffling murders?

We’ll see….

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