Another day in the life of a small-town reporter

Today is Sunday. Got up, tried to leave in time to take Kalista to church, failed, went for a Sunday drive instead, came home and ate lunch, went to a charity Day of Basketball, came home and made dinner, checked my e-mail, saw I had yet another angry correspondence sent my way by someone on the family of the woman who was stabbed, gave Kalista a bath, put Kalista in bed, cleaned up the house and here I am.

Now. About the pissed off-sounding e-mail I got from this “grieving” family that will surely result in a nasty letter to the editor about me. I’ve come to the conclusion they are just trying to call attention to themselves. Profit from a near tragedy. Mark my words – one of them WILL want me to write a feature about her “road to recovery” and I will do it because, well, I’d be foolish not to tell that story. But I’ll do so with a bit of reluctance due to the fact that I will be well aware of what they really, really want deep down inside: the spotlight.

They have cited exactly nothing in particular that I did wrong. A man broke into a woman’s house, stabbed her, whacked her son and left. People needed to know it happened.

“i am mad that you put it in the paper before they even got the man who did this.”

Okay, um, read the front page of today’s paper. I wrote an article about one of Kinston’s most wanted men and how police are still looking for him. What’d he allegedly do? Stab someone. Ring any bells, lady?

“He knows where she is thanks to your paper.”

Yep, he sure does. Tucked in a high-security hospital room surrounded by guards. It’s the information age – don’t you think he would have been able to find out the hospital she was in if he was really interested? It’s not difficult at all. Call the hospital’s main number and ask for a patient who was admitted a few days ago. The pencil-pusher/church volunteers working the desk will always spill the beans. Trust me, I’ve taken advantage of their naivety on several occasions.

Remember, though: knowing what hospital someone is in doesn’t mean that person is accessible. Duh.

“I know that one of the deputies is the one who gave you the story and he is not even on the case he sould keep his mouth shut they are alot of deputies who are tring to help and catch the sob that did this.”

No one gave me this story. I extracted it. It’s not like they gift-wrapped and mailed it to me. And the deputies trying to help catch the s.o.b.? I assure you, they’re not as bent out of shape about the community (a.k.a. extra people on the lookout for suspicious characters in the area) as you may think.

“her kids or scare to even go to school or even sleep by there self and now he knows where to get there mama i hope you all sleep good because her family sure is not i wish you all could go and see her and you would never print anything else before he is behind bars he almost killed her we are all mad as hell i know you are doing a job but please dont let her die because of it.”

This is the point where I start to think these people are blowing things out of proportion for extra attention. Remember, the victim’s mother threatened to “report” my paper to a TV news channel because we told people about the crime … I mean, because that makes perfect sense and all, correct?

The thing I’m lost on is how alerting people of the situation is at all putting this family at risk. There’s no way to sunshine-coat this at all, so I’ll just put it out there: it’s not. However, I’ll tell you what alerting the public of this does do. It a.) lets people know not to open their door if they hear someone knock on it in the middle of the night because there’s a madman out there, b.) ultimately helps bring the man to justice by getting residents involved in the search for him, and c.) gives people an idea of what’s happening in the world around them – which, I assure you, is NEVER a bad thing.

The part about the kids not sleeping just breaks my heart. That’s not true – and if it is, it’s because the family’s filling their heads with untruthful speculation. There’s about as much chance of this happening again as there is of it happening to me. The chance exists, but geeze – I’m not going to live my life in fear of something like that.

I’ll end with this. Is this a pain in the ass to have to deal with an over-zealous family like this? Absolutely. But it’s totally worth it because had I not printed that story and the same thing happened to someone else who lived in that area who opened their door for a suspicious knock, I would feel horrible because they might not have done so had they heard about this going on.

Make sense? Crime stories can save lives – I may never know if this one did, but I guarantee you I would know if someone died because I didn’t run it.

And that’s something I would lose sleep over.

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