Thursday, May 23, 2019

It happens from time to time

Pregnant woman, by Edward Degas
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     I always worry about repeating myself in the column. Probably unnecessarily. Nobody ruffles the paper indignantly and harrumphs, "I READ this same opinion 15 years ago!" But I have my professional pride, too much no doubt, and to me, once you start recycling old ideas, you're halfway to Bob Greene and his 100 columns about Baby Richard.
     So the horror of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, the pregnant 19-year-old Pilsen woman who was strangled and  her baby cut out of her, evoked, after the normal human shock that such a crime would evoke, a kind of double deja vu. First, the realization that this crime, as staggeringly incomprehensible as it is, has happened before, repeatedly. And second, that I've pointed this out already. Thus I kept quiet.
     For today, I dug up up that column from 15 years ago. It's brief, since the column took a full page and had a variety of parts. under bold faced subheadings. 

    But it does the job.
    On the same day, I ran a vignette about my family life in 2004 that I couldn't drop back down the memory hole without sharing. I'll tag it afterward, as an apology for taking you  to such a grim place. The speaker at the time was 7.

Not the first time

     I shouldn't even bring up the subject of the hideous murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett—the Missouri woman who was strangled and her baby cut from her womb—since there's nothing funny about it.
     But one aspect of the crime should not escape notice. When we first heard of this kind of thing, in the similar 1995 Debra Evans case here in DuPage County, I thought it was so brutal and horrible it had to be a unique occurrence. It seemed a crime of such awfulness it might have happened only once, safely in historic times, the kind of thing that becomes a Greek tragedy, like Medea.
     But these cases are not unique. It's incredible, but true. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens—now in Missouri, in 1995 in DuPage, and also in cases in Ohio, in Alabama, in New Mexico, and probably more that I couldn't find.
     I don't know what conclusion to draw from this, other than as a reminder that there are some hugely disturbed people out there. And while such crimes are still rare, the killing of pregnant women is not—in fact, murder is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and new mothers, eclipsing things such as cancer or delivery complications.
     Researchers are trying to figure out why.

'I'm lying!'

     "Do you really have an earache, or are you faking it?" my wife, trying to shepherd the boys out the door, called after the youngest, who has lately been trying to goldbrick his way out of anything he finds remotely unpleasant.
     I set down the coffee cup, poised to point out the lack of utility of such a question, when his voice, bright with the innocent candor of youth, came chiming in from another section of the house:
     "Faking it!" he announced.
     I didn't know whether to be proud of his honesty or dismayed by his lack of craft.
                  —Originally published in the Sun-Times, Dec. 20, 2004


  1. Yes, a horrible crime. And sadly not unprecedented. It could have been what happened to Macduff. and that didn't turn out badly.


  2. What strikes me almost as much as the horrendous nature of these act is the absolute stupidity of all involved -- there was no way they could get away with such a crime, no matter how slowly or incompetently the police investigated, which should have been apparent from the moment the action was first contemplated. Drugs and/or alcohol an essential component no doubt.

    1. And a heavy dose of mental illness. Or, all of the above.

  3. Honest kid story: I asked my second-grade son if he was going to play recorder in a school presentation. I asked because he has not done well in music class. He said, "Don't worry, Dad. I can move my fingers up and down and pretend I'm playing."

  4. I'm waiting for the next such murderer to claim she was just preventing the victim from having her doctor kill the baby shortly after its birth, because after all, that's what women and doctors do if they're not stopped -- just ask Trump and the Republicans.

  5. If you’re into true crime, the statistic of pregnant women being murdered is not so surprising. It seems a lot of young men cannot handle the apparently unexpected news of their girlfriend or wife becoming pregnant, resulting in a cowardly and horrible act of desperation.


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