I knew “Gene” before he was a monster. When he was a victim. Repeatedly, ritually abused by older “family” members-plural.
I am not just saying this, but he was a really nice kid, gentle, caring. If something was being planned at the group home, where someone might get hurt he is the kid who might tell you about it.
Somewhat awkward and gangly, he struggled to fit in, but he was a nice kid. A nice kid haunted.
When I heard what he did, I was more sad than shocked, but murder, and with those circumstances?
Early Warning Signs
Even as a teen staff worried about him, and he had a “plan”—every night you would have to run through a set of questions with him. “Did you have any inappropriate thoughts? Were there any incidents of inappropriate touching? What should you do if you have an incident or inappropriate thoughts?”
That type of thing—and I think every time he said no. He was probably lying.
Pretty sure he aged out of the group home at age 18. Back then they just gave you like fifty bucks and set you on your own when you turned 18 as a foster kid. And he eventually went to live with his girlfriend and her child.
The Crime is Monstrous
He pled guilty to killing the 8 month-old. He threw the child into a chair when it would not stop crying, I don’t want to write why the baby was crying. They dropped two other charges, which were even worse, to get him to plead guilty. He has 20 years.
One of his former roommates at the group home and I spoke about Gene. This kid told me that Gene knew caring as molestation, that is what he learned, and that is what he did.
I think about reaching out to Gene, I looked up his inmate info. But I can’t.
I saw this nice young kid twisted, and I can only imagine what these years in prison have done to him. He was not built for that (not that anyone is), and his crime will make him a target for God knows what. And who will he be now after even more trauma?
Working at the group home, it was like training for jail. Line up, rec time, line up, silence, back to your room, quiet time, line up, tv time, go to bed, line up, breakfast, breakfast over, line up for the school bus…
A Ticking Bomb
There were some kids at the home, who I liked, and were really nice kids, but they were dangerous—Gene was one of them. In fact, his girlfriend was warned not to leave the child with Gene, and was charged with negligent homicide for doing so.
He was damaged, and asking him a few questions every night didn’t fix him. And to just let him go unsupported and unsupervised in the community, we were negligent ourselves.
There is no quick fix here, protect children more, so that less damage is done. Provide real substantive mental health support in an ongoing way to kids with deep challenges, offer supportive housing and transitional support for kids to get on their feet and learn the skills to be independent, and for those kids who do pose a danger to better understand the real risk, and offer continued support and supervision.
We are making too many monsters right now, and unless we change, we will increasingly pay a cost as they grow.