She was adopted out of China, 10 years ago, the little girl walking out of gymnastics class.
It was Thursday night about 9, at the mall north of Syracuse, the little girl and her mother, the school librarian.
Walking to their car in the dark mall lot.
Perhaps hand in hand, perhaps sharing stories of the day, perhaps hungry for dinner.
About 9 o’clock.
Shortly after he cut the tracking bracelet from his ankle.
They had gone to the same high school, North Syracuse-Minoa, about a generation apart. She was 47 and he was 29. And they’d both gone to Oswego, and she was back as an adjunct professor while he was taking classes.
Who knows if she recognized him.
If she’d ever seen him, she probably did. His face was grotesquely misshapen. The people at the topless bar he frequented didn’t know whether it was from an accident or a birth defect, but they talked about it when he wasn’t there.
If she’d ever seen him, she would have remembered.
Even in the dark of the lot.
He’d gotten the ankle bracelet from a federal magistrate, as part of a bail agreement. There were hundreds of pictures and videos, encrypted behind the firewall on his computer, and two were described in the charging documents. The rape of a little girl, the sodomy of a little girl, pictures like that by the hundreds and more.
It had dragged on for most of a year, the investigation, and he seemed to admit everything to the FBI agents. He said he’d collected child pornography for eight years. They arrested him at the beginning of this year, and he was out awaiting trial shortly thereafter.
He was out awaiting trial Thursday night when he intercepted the librarian and her daughter outside the mall.
Somewhere and somehow he took control of them. At their car, on the way to their car, by threat of voice, by display of weapon, we don’t know.
But he tied up the mother and drove to a darkened corner of the lot.
Where he raped the daughter.
He raped the daughter in front of the mother, then he murdered the mother in front of the daughter.
That’s what the police say.
They say that he raped the little girl, drove a couple of minutes to a quieter road, and then set about getting rid of the witness.
The elementary librarian. The middle-aged lady who loved children and books and the little girl she had adopted from China.
He stabbed her and stabbed her and stabbed her.
Which may be how she saved her daughter’s life.
While she was being slashed, while her life’s blood was draining from her, her daughter leapt from the car. She leapt from the car and ran down the road. Mother was the distraction that saved daughter.
A passerby gathered up the girl, a plain-clothes trooper gathered up the troll.
And for days a region has been in shock.
Horrified at the evil, stunned at the loss, broken hearted at the goodness gone and the girl orphaned. It is an American tale of evil and pain, played out in the suburban heartland. A mother and a daughter after gymnastics practice.
And a troll of a man steeped in pornography and perversion, so enthralled with evil and lust, authorities say, that he has done this most debased of things.
He raped the daughter in front of the mother and murdered the mother in front of the daughter.
That’s what the investigation shows.
That’s what our hearts can’t comprehend.
That’s what his mind envisioned.
That’s what he dreamed up in that putrid stew of fantasy and evil, where watching children violated is arousing and where women are things you ogle and tip.
And where evil goes unchecked. Where the common-sense protections of society are hamstrung or absent. There is an aspect of geography and philosophy in this tragedy.
They caught him once, and they turned him loose with a bracelet. She walked defenseless in a county where judges routinely deny the issuance of concealed-carry permits. This heinous crime was committed in a state without a death penalty.
All of which helped him and hurt her.
All of which facilitated evil and imperiled good.
None of which should go unchallenged in the wake of this horrible crime.