A Little Outside the Lines

You know something? I don’t know about you, but I’ve known some people who didn’t fit inside the lines. Maybe it was a conscious choice, maybe it was desperation, I don’t know. It’s hard for me to judge where you came from and how you see things. I try to stay inside the lines, but it wasn’t always that way.

The first time I ever visited a strip club was with a high school friend, and the mom of one of the strippers. You know something? It was weird, and foreign to me. But when the girl went on break, she came and sat down with me, my buddy and her mom. Years later, her brother kidnapped a girl, (he was her ex, I found out later), I dropped off after a night out. Nothing like reading about the girl you dropped off the night before in the paper the next day. That night turned out okay, she didn’t get hurt, but another night things didn’t turn out so good. I couldn’t get it right with that girl, and blamed myself every time something happened to her. And things happened to her too often. It sucked.

But not to make too much of the sordid details of my life, the point is, a lot of us know people like that. Maybe someone we care about, maybe just a common acquaintance, but someone. Someone trying to get it right, whatever version of right they’re after.

So why am I bringing all of this up? I think most people who pay attention to the news here in Albuquerque have a take on the tragedy unfolding on the south west side of town. After reading what little is available on the girls who are missing, or have been identified, we’ve all gotten a little closer to them. I’ve stared at the satellite photo, realising, that I’ve probably looked at that same photo while digitizing infrastructure details to new subdivisions in 2005. And it haunts me. I would’ve had no reason to look down the power line road, I was only looking for the information from the new subdivisions.

The details we’ve all become so familiar with are, in fact, an important part of the police investigation. But in no way do the details lessen the responsibility of the police to investigate the heinous crimes, and hopefully come up with the answers, and perhaps even justice, that the families crave. These were human beings, people just like people many of us know or have known. No less deserving of justice than those who live their entire lives entirely within the lines.

I think all but the most callous have come to realise this, and it is entirely understandable and forgiveable for a grieving family member to cry out in protest at the repeated obsession with the few seamy details of these victims’ lives.

I come across comments on the internet from people claiming to have known one of the victims, and it never fails to pull at my heart a little, if not more. I’ve read the way Jeremy Jojola has tried to find information outside of the police reports, and am a little inspired at his efforts to humanize the victims outside of their arrest reports. There’s nothing we can do to bring back these victims’ lives, but there is something we can do in how we remember them, how we tell their stories. Not all of the details are going to be inside the lines, and indeed, must be told, if we’re going to get the full picture. And the full picture is much more than just those parts that are outside the lines.

These were human beings who probably befell a violent end to their lives. Any hope for a better life was most likely wrongly taken from them. They deserve the same respect any other victim deserves.

edit: I don’t think I’ve said anything that wasn’t written elsewhere about this, and feel like I should credit Jeremy Jojola’s blog, as I’ve read it, and feel I’ve pretty much said the same thing as he’s already said.

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