Should we feel better or worse?
Great news over the weekend -- police have arrested two suspects in connection with the Harvey and Tucker/Baskerville murders. Then the stunning development that police are investigating the possibility that Ashley Baskerville, one of the victims, may have been an accomplice to the robbery at the Harvey house. We may finally be getting the answers we have been waiting for. So why don’t I feel any better? In fact, this development may be the worst outcome possible. Not the arrest, of course, but the news that the Harvey slayings seem to be, in fact, random. After much speculation on the internet with theories about estranged, troubled relatives and the Harveys’ attempts to intervene (kudos to the local press for not biting), it turns out that what seemed unthinkable might actually be the case: that someone did this just to grab some DVD players or something. It makes me want to vomit.
The initial idea that this might have been something contained to the Harveys’ universe was bleak, if selfish comfort. As horrifying as it was, one can at least grasp that personal situations spin out of control, people go crazy or stop taking medication. And from that selfish point of view -- that thank God it does not affect my universe -- I took the only bit of comfort I have known for days. Once the Harveys’ universe was punctured, it was grief more than terror that spilled out all over Richmond.
That’s not to say most of us didn’t entertain the thought that there might be monsters in our midst. In the days following the murders I, like many of you, have had trouble sleeping. When I wake in the middle of the night my first thought is those two precious babies. I admit to having checked my kids’ rooms armed with a lava lamp. When I needed to go into the attic I brought along a spray bottle of Lysol bathroom cleaner. I told myself I was being irrational, especially as it seemed that this might have been a case of a lunatic in the Harveys’ midst -- at least that’s what many of us read into the police reports that robbery was not involved and the comment in the Jan. 3 T-D story quoting neighbors of the Harveys:
Three families said yesterday that police detectives have told them they need not be alarmed about a continuing threat in the neighborhood. “One of the detectives came to me and said, ‘There’s no need to worry,’” said one neighbor, who has a wife and two children.
So how to process this? That this lovely family's fate was determined by the throw of a dart, a random monstrous act that could have happened to you, to me or anyone else in this town? Last night at the dinner table my daughter asked me what I was afraid of. I couldn't tell her the truth, so I said "dark places." How could I tell her that I am afraid of monsters when I have reassured her time and again that there is no such thing? I suppose someday I will have to tell my children the truth.