Two days ago, this evil was embodied by a 45 year old Springfield, Missouri man wearing a baseball cap, longish gray hair and a beard, a man who drove a tan Ford Ranger. (His name or picture isn’t relevant here. Evil Beast [EB] will do as a fitting descriptor.)
The EB drove into a Springfield neighborhood sometime after the school-day ended, spied an innocent ten-year-old child walking blithely along on her way home, lured her close to his vehicle by asking for directions, grabbed her by the arm and yanked her into his vehicle. Within three hours, the child was dead.
Two alert individuals in the neighborhood were near enough to witness the act and they attempted to thwart the abduction. One apparently gave chase. Both provided immediate details to police (including a license plate number) which allowed law enforcement to pursue, locate and question EB, arresting him almost on the spot due to probable cause.
But before she could be rescued, a little girl named Hailey died from a bullet shot to the base of her skull.
The Greene County prosecutor, whose news conferences relate how he’s begun to build a case against EB, is quick to remind that the perpetrator of this crime is innocent until proven guilty. Wise man. I suppose even the most obvious slam-dunk cases have fallen apart for prosecutors from time to time. With two eyewitnesses and the child’s body (hidden in two trash bags) found in this predator’s basement, it looks like the proverbial airtight case.
I grieve for this little girl’s family. Their lives will now be despicably bound up with that of the killer. It is heinous to think how EB has inflicted himself into their lives in the most excruciating way! Even if a jury recommends the death penalty, EB will likely live many years and from afar will continue to wreak Hell on this family!
I grieve for the witnesses who were nearly able to wrest the child from harm. In a world where would’ve-could’ve-should’ve often carries a heavy burden, these two individuals may be unduly plagued into believing the child’s death is partly their fault. If-only is a disease that savagely gnaws at the heart.
In days to come, the history of EB will be revealed. Druggie? Porn addict? Kiddie porn? Are there other bodies? There will be the usual hand-wringing and strategies to shift blame elsewhere. I don’t even want to go there.
But take a look at the lovely tree-lined street in the photo above. That’s EB‘s street, a typical quiet Springfield neighborhood with modest 1960s homes lining the street. The homes appear to be well-kept, a community like many others in this middle part of the country. The residents in that block may be as surprised as anyone that their one-time neighbor is a cold-blooded child-killer.
A couple years ago, I posted on the seventeenth anniversary of Morgan Nick‘s disappearance from an Alma, Arkansas Little League park in 1995. Her mother, Colleen, maintains hope Morgan will one day return home.
In Genesis 6:5, we read: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Evil rarely wears a Freddie Krueger mask. More often than we’d like to admit, evil lives quietly among us, cruising our peaceful neighborhoods.
Tonight when you tuck your little ones into bed and kiss them before turning out the light, hug them extra close and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings you’ve enjoyed. And as you exit the room, whisper another prayer for the family of ten-year-old Hailey.
Her bed (and their arms) will be tragically empty because calamity befell her … and because evil exists in our world today.