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Stepped off a train

Not all days end well, or for some ever.

Last night, stepping off a train and wrapping up one day's endeavor I was to end up intimately involved in another. Twenty minutes off that Amtrak a colleague and I were in a phone call with a little girl's parents and aunt as they sat some three hours away in a police station, looking for help. Looking for someone to bring their little girl home.

In yesterday's late afternoon a little girl named Hailey Owen, just blocks from her home was snatched off the street and from life by her kidnapper and, ultimately killer.

The Amber Alerts went out as did the BOLOs.

Standing over a phone, talking with her parents I agreed to come down. And in doing so broke one of my rules. I don't break my rules, the real hardline internal ones. I don't break. Last night is a reason why.

I have a lot of scars from doing this job after almost twenty years. Some external, some internal. They are wrapped up in good decisions and bad ones. Victories and losses. But, through it all I have maintained one very solid mandate. Never get involved in any case that leads to finding the body of a child.

It's selfish and unapologetic but, there are somethings that I'd like to, when my time comes to finally lay down to my eternal rest, never see. Perhaps more now than ever as a father. Yet, hearing the family on the other end how do you say no? Because in their minds they are holding out for hope that she is still alive, I should think my colleague was as well.

Yet as I watched the clock make it's final sweep to ten pm, I knew the score.

Ask any doctor, cop, fire fighter...or a fixer like myself, that you have to get pragmatic early on in your career. I've often called it "the coldness". It's how every soldier can cry and kiss his family as he deploys and the moment they are out of sight the job takes over.

"We need to go get on the road".

"We need to wait till morning." I said.

I know, I know what you are thinking. Twelve hours.

Twelve to fifteen hours is the window.

Of which by the time we would have arrived would have closed. Had we left at that moment, her parents would still be at the police station and, cops hate nothing more than guys like me walking into their wheel house. And I don't blame them one small bit.

To be honest, while law enforcement has some public relations issues they need to get on and fix with how they interact with the citizenry there is still no worst enemy for the bad men of the world than the American Cop when the flag goes up.

But I had said I would go.

Keep my word.

So once in the door, after a long ride home in the old 4Runner making a lot of pleas with God and wanting to call in any favors I might have had with Him to let her come home, I went operational. The moleskine was getting bullet pointed with "needs", the bedroll dug out, the Gobag brought down from the closet top.

It didn't matter. I already knew it. I was angry. Just angry.

The phone rang just after 5 this morning. My colleague called to say Hailey's killer, (suspect as everyone else will say) had been arrested but, no body yet recovered.

"There is nothing for us to do. They'll find her within the next couple of hours" I said into the phone. Not alive I couldn't really bring myself to say, so I added "Give the family our condolences".

"They haven't found her yet", "they will".

They did. That text came in at 7:20 something.

I grow weary of the bad men of the world killing children. Everyone's politics be damned, I grow tired of the rapist, the killer, the men who commit themselves to sanely devised evil.

Because it is evil and there is evil in this world. It's not one man's perspective over another or another. Some men just want to do evil and they sleep every night free of guilt from it.

And so it is and was with Craig Michael Wood. Child killer. Innocence thief. Destroyer of small worlds and families.

Years back when I started SFIACW it was an outlet for the writer in me who grew weary of a world of bullshit and double talk. It eventually grew less personal and more....XYZ.

So normally this is the part where I say "fight" give the bad men everything you have and leave them on the floor and not you.

But instead I would rather say "do good."

Do good. Because the world is so absent of it at times. You want to be counter cultural? Do good.


taylor said…
Been behind the badge on these kinds of calls before and I completely understand. Once the rush of energy leaves a case after the first 8 hours or so, its hard to keep up the pace. And if you ultimately fail, it take time...serious separation time, to fully recover.

I had the great fortune of being young and dumb when I got introduced to these darker parts of humanity. Now older, and a father...I just dont think I could do it anymore.

God bless you for being willing to step up. Just dont forget to sit down and rest from time to time too.
DaddyBear said…
I have no words for this. My heart goes out to that family. Thanks for this.
Jennifer said…
I had a bad feeling about this one when the Amber Alert came out. Thank you for doing what you do
Spike said…
Praying for that family, and you.
I cant imagine what I would do if something happens to my 2 boys. I cannot fathom what is going through their hearts tonight.

As Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, I have fought the good fight.

We must fight the good fight against evil. Its a constant struggle, and if it takes our dying breath in the struggle... Its worth it. If not for ourselves, but for our kids, and their kids, and the neighbor kids.

Fight the good fight. But take backup.
Northman said…
Praying for you and the family.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

No words brother, I'll just pray.
GregT said…
You're right. But it's a sad, sad day when "counter cultural" means doing good.

I've been there, during cases like these. Doing the search. Hoping, but knowing, deep inside. Longest was almost two weeks of looking before we found her. But we did.

And a human predator isn't loose any more.

Some people are just born broken, some develop that way, and there's nothing to do but pick up the pieces afterwards.
Dan said…
Thank you for reminding me. I don't know that I ever forget, but I certainly do lose sight of how important a little good can be.
Celeste said…
I'm so sorry. Praying for both the family, and you.

Take care of yourself for a bit, alright?
Docent said…
Such a sad event. Like the others, I want to express my sympathy.
Shane W said…
"No words brother, I'll just pray."

That about sums it up. Take care Matthew
Anonymous said…
Jesus wept.
[Jhn 11:35 NASB]
Anonymous said…
That mill stone Jesus mentioned? 'it's better that a millstone be tied around their neck if anyone causes a little one to sin..' imagine what he thinks about killing a little one. This world doesn't end here. I believe God to be tired of the sin, too. Real tired. In the meantime, Sir, we love you, pray for you and thank you for doing what we can't. Find the bad buys.
Jay G said…
It's cases like these that keep me from being an atheist.

Because I *have* to believe that *someone* is going to make that subhuman piece of filth pay for what he did.

Since we don't scourge people to death, I have to believe that a lake of fire awaits this scum.
Thanks for writing about this.

Hug your family. A lot. And keep them safe.
Jerry Clifford said…
"People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf"
Pray for those who fight the night
Weetabix said…
If you're ever down in Hailey's town again and in the mood, drop me an email. I'll buy you a cup of coffee.
Snarky357 said…
Dealing with this kind of stuff is why I use facebook to help find animals homes and show off food porn. I am involved in a 'Pay it forward' group. I volunteer for good causes, and count the days until I can do something completely different, that leaves no scars.

Be well.
David said…
Perhaps too late to save Hailey, but not too late to save yourself. By agreeing to go, you did the right thing...the thing that lets you look at yourself in the mirror and not hate what you see. Hopeless cause or not, you're allowed to be need to be. You did right.
Paul said…
The kids are grown. Both are married and both are hard working people.

So our next challenge will be grandkids.

I cannot imagine what those parents went through when their little girl disappeared.

I mean I'd be just crackers if all I could do is sit there and wait for the police to find them (or what is left of them.)

You know, I told my priest about how when I read such horror stories in the news my 'Jack Bauer' comes out of me.

Yes it's ugly, but thank goodness I am not the one who has to arrest the monsters who murders children. For if I was, I might become a monster myself.

And we know what Nachize said about that.