Thu 6 Mar 2008
“Murder does not come often to Chapel Hill” sums up what I’ve heard frequently today in the wake of Eve Carson’s tragic death.
The Mayor said it. WCHL’s Ron Stutts and Natasha Vukelic repeated the sentiment on my drive home. Chief Curran, at the 5:30 CHPD, said it was one reason Eve Carson remained unidentified for some time.
Murder, at least for now, does appear to come infrequently to Chapel Hill but it does come, and more often than our media and elected leadership admit. I’ve lived here for nearly two decades – been around Chapel Hill for nearly three – and no matter how much I want our community to be and to be seen as safe and secure, our brushes with serious crime are coming more frequently and often more violently.
In the last few weeks, two domestic disputes, one in Northside and one at Carrboro’s Carrboro Plaza ended in the murder of two of our local citizens.
Not to diminish the Carson’s terrible loss, but where was our community’s outrage, sorrow, grief and calls-to-action for the deaths of 51 year-old Marshall Ralph Brown (shot in the back by stepson 27-year-old William Albert Stroud) or 59 year-old James Imonti ( by his 65 year-old father-in-law)?
Was it because Eve Carson’s death was apparently random, not as mundane as long simmering family disputes? Was her death any more random or less tragic than those of the 2005’s murder of the Sapikowski’s, blasted by their son over an argument about his grades and a girlfriend? Brutal, terrible but so was that of 2006’s Kedrain Swann’s at the ill-fated Avalon night club.
Was it that she was young, accomplished and so full of promise and these folks seem to have made less of splash in our local community?
“Murder does not come often to Chapel Hill” comes from Sylvia Colwell’s analysis of the troubling media coverage of another Chapel Hill murder of young woman of great promise.
July 15, 1993, roughly 6am, Kristin Lodge-Miller, 26, a speech therapist with a promising future was gunned down on Estes by 18 year-old Anthony Georg Simpson. Simpson pumped 5 bullets into Kristin, the final a head shot as she lay dying on the side of Estes [B on MAP]. He didn’t care that morning commuters saw his callous act.
Random, brutal, senseless.
What lessons were to be learned?
In the years since, folks, as is natural, have forgotten Kristin. The informal memorial of flowers and mementos decorating the shoulder of Estes was removed. The remnants washed away. Her friends and few others seem to remember or care about that Chapel Hill murder anymore.
I still remember though.
Is there anything to learn from Eve’s death? Chancellor Moeser’s kind comments this afternoon [MP3] made clear there was plenty to learn from Eve’s devotion to the “Carolina Way”. But what of her death?
I know one lesson to take away from today’s commentary. Chapel Hill is changing.
Random acts of violence and simmering domestic disputes that chaotically flare into fatal confrontations are nearly impossible to prevent but complacency does a disservice to our community. As the story of Ms. Carson’s death unrolls, I hope what the world will see a realistic Chapel Hill.
Maintaining the pretense, especially in the face of so many near misses these last few years, is also disservice to folks like Eve, James, Marshall, Kedrain, Kristin.