Life is Stranger Than Fiction
(Warning: Extremely graphic images below.)
These days in my spare time, I'm working on a novel that's partly about the 1989 discovery of a 6 year-old child whose body was found in a ball of concrete, a child killed in 1979 who bears an eerie similarity to another child known to the protagonist in present day.
Apparently, that wasn't eerie enough to pass as fiction although most of us have heard real life horror stories about children who were murdered and buried in cement.
However, right around the time I was drafting out this chapter, Indiana police found pretty much the same thing when they were led to the shallow concrete grave of Christian Choate, the 13 year-old child who'd been held captive in a three foot-high cage, starved, dehydrated and beaten by his parents during the final year of his life. In fact, the case is so disturbing, that the judge issued a gag order to be placed on the very people who were supposed to be safeguarding the child's welfare: The Indiana DCS.
But before we talk about this, let's examine another murder of a child that also occurred in the Midwest almost exactly 20 years before.
In late May of 1991, 14 year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone was found by two women wandering the streets of Milwaukee naked, under the influence of something and bleeding from his rectum. He was also being chased by a man later identified as Jeffrey Dahmer, who demanded they turn the child over to him. Naturally, they refused. The alarmed women did what normal people ought to do: Call the local police.
What followed must have been an unimaginable nightmare for poor Konerak, his family but, most of all, the poor Milwaukee Police department who were caught red-handed in one of the greatest lapses of judgment in the planet's history of law enforcement.
Dahmer told the two responding officers that the boy was actually 19 and his boyfriend and they were just having a lover's quarrel. Back at Dahmer's apartment, the cops smelled something strange but didn't think to investigate that. Despite Dahmer essentially claiming ownership of this child, the cops never thought to check his background or that of the boy.
Because if the cops had even exercised one iota of intelligence or even the barest baseline of police investigation, they would've discovered that the child was 14. They would have discovered the strange smell in the house was the decomposing corpse of Tony Hughes, who had been murdered by Dahmer 72 hours earlier and left to rot in the bedroom. They would've known that Dahmer was a convicted child sex offender inexplicably on probation for molesting the very brother of the boy who would be murdered moments after the Milwaukee police turned him over to his killer. Even if they'd run the boy in for public intoxication or had taken him to the hospital for the rectal bleeding, they would've eventually discovered his true age and the extent of his abuse.
Later on that night, one of the mothers of the two women who'd first found the child called the Milwaukee PD to follow up on the boy and was basically told to fuck off, eat shit and die by the asshole sergeant at the desk that night.
Downstairs, obviously creeped out by the gay angle of the call, the cops were recorded saying this immediately afterward:
Officer: “The intoxicated Asian naked male [laughter in background] was returned to his sober boyfriend.” [more laughter]
Officer: “Ten-four. It will be a minute. My partner is going to get deloused at the station.” [laughter on the tape]
While the Milwaukee PD was yukking it up and making jokes downstairs, this is what Dahmer was in the process of doing to the child they'd just handed back to him minutes earlier.
Despite the fact that Dahmer had just victimized their family for the second time, the Sinthasomphone family had to watch the reinstatement of the three cops who'd rightly lost their jobs. As if that wasn't bad enough, they also had to endure seeing these assholes get back pay they never earned to the tune of $100,000. And it gets even better: "One of the officers, John Balcerzak, was elected President of the Milwaukee Police Association in May, 2005."
So they were allowed back into the warm fold of their fraternal order, got a huge windfall of money they couldn't possibly have earned either up until or after 1991 and to fail upward.
One other postscript: Dahmer went on to kill four more young men later that summer, meaning the Milwaukee PD could've easily have been charged, but were not, on five counts of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Instead they were staunchly protected by their brothers and sisters in arms without a word being said about the 14 year-old Laotian child they'd allowed to be murdered and dismembered as they were making jokes about the child's condition and distress.
Let's fast forward to present day. Child murderers obviously still exist and we don't need Christian Choate's horrific story to remind us of that although it seems we have to be constantly reminded that pure evil does, in fact, exist and rubs shoulders and elbows with us.
And this is the reason why I'm bringing up the 20 year-old case of Konerak Sinthasomphone, to remind you that not only does Satanic evil reside in many of us but to remind you of what Hannah Arendt once famously called "the banality of evil."
And there is no evil greater or more banal than that of bureaucrats whose job it is to safeguard the welfare of others and, for unfathomable reasons, choose not to. This failure in judgment, this dereliction of duty, this laziness, this apathy, whatever you wish to call it, is as much at the heart of this case from 2011 as it was in 1991.
Indiana DCS authorities had been to the Choate house to check up on the boy after calls were made. They spoke to the boy, gave him paper to write on and asked him to describe his life. The boy stated that he wanted to die and that he was constantly hungry and thirsty.
The parents were eventually charged with the following crimes:
Murder, felony counts of battery, confinement and removing a body from a death scene or altering a death scene, three felony counts of obstruction of justice and three felony counts of neglect of a dependent.
These crimes only could've been allowed to happen after the Indiana DCS literally walked away from this boy and let him fall through the cracks of a system that has completely broken down, a system that rewards the laziest and most arrogant while their most powerless and most vulnerable charges die under their so-called supervision.
I'm not a big proponent of the death penalty but I think certain exceptions could be made that wouldn't needle me with guilt, exceptions to my own rule that wouldn't fall under the heading of hypocrisy. And, in all seriousness and in all fairness, the three armed bureaucrats who allowed that poor child to die in 1991 should've been arrested, charged, tried, convicted, sentenced and summarily executed.
The officials at the Indiana DCS who were aware of this child's predicament in Gary deserve the same fate. They too need to be arrested, charged, tried, convicted, sentenced and summarily executed. Because guilt in both cases is indisputable. The boys both spoke English and pleaded their case to the authorities sworn to protect them.
And to ensure this never happens again, certain people must die and be painfully and publicly executed for abusing and neglecting one of the most sacred of trusts. Otherwise, when those responsible for casual negligent homicide are rewarded and allowed to fail upwards, what incentive do these public servants have to get it right and to actually save lives when presented with the opportunity?