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From the monthly archives: "June 2014"
Willa Cosgrove & Peggy Schmidt

Willa Cosgrove & Peggy Schmidt

As with several other relationships, we met Peggy and Gene Schmidt and their daughter Jeni under terrible circumstances. We were researching and writing about the murder of their beautiful daughter Stephanie – Jeni’s older sister – at the hands of a paroled sex offender in Pittsburg, Kansas, on July 2, 1993. Two days later, on the Fourth of July, Stephanie would have been 20 years-old. The Schmidt family’s story – equal parts sad and inspiring – is related in our book, Obsession.

We learned a lot from the Schmidts, and not just about murder.

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Elliot Rodger (right) and his first three victims: Weihan Wang (left), Cheng Yuan Hong (top center) and George Chen (center bottom) from The Daily Express

Elliot Rodger (right) and his first three victims: Weihan Wang (left), Cheng Yuan Hong (top center) and George Chen (center bottom) from The Daily Express

Families of Elliot Rodger’s first three victims – his two roommates and the young man who happened to be visiting at the time – have expressed outrage and dismay over the media’s focus on the depraved killer rather than on his victims. On May 23, Rodger stabbed and hacked to death Cheng Yuan “James” Hong and Weihan “David” Wang, both 20, who shared the apartment with Rodger, and George Chen, 19. He then went out in his BMW on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, California.

Their survivors particularly resent the fact that Barbara Walters is coming out of her recent retirement to interview the killer’s father. In a statement to ABC News, they wrote: “As parents, we plea you not to focus on the killer side.” Instead, they asked the network to “pay respect to the six beautiful lives gone too soon.”

Do the parents have a legitimate gripe? They definitely do.

But is the focus on the killer understandable? That’s also a “Yes.”

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Cory Roberts

Cory Roberts

This past Monday, Cory Roberts, 37, was released from a detention center for sexually violent predators in Seattle, Washington, and placed in a halfway house in Tacoma. As a 13-year-old in 1990, Roberts raped and beat a three-year-old girl he was babysitting, leaving her near death, brain damaged and partially paralyzed. He was freed from incarceration in 2001, but within weeks, he had committed another sexually predatory crime, this time on a three-year-old boy. He was convicted and re-incarcerated.

Now, psychologists who examined him have determined that Mr. Roberts is no longer dangerous, no longer sexually attracted to young children, and that he does not have the “mental abnormality” necessary to keep him locked up.

What is wrong with this picture?

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Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier

Heavenly Creatures Movie

Heavenly Creatures Movie

Mass shootings have become so tragically commonplace in our culture that the “What could have been done to prevent this horror?” exercise has become routine. But two pretty 12-year-old girls trying to stab a third girl to death after a sleepover? It’s almost beyond the mind to contemplate.

According to the complaint, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier of Waukesha, Wisconsin – their names were released because they are being charged as adults for attempted first-degree murder – took part in a sleepover with a third girl. The next morning, they allegedly lured her into a wooded park for a game of hide and seek, then stabbed her 19 times and left her for dead.

How could this have happened?

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