Non WoW post - Looking into the eyes of a killer

 *** WARNING ***
*** DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS POST ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS ***

I recently wrote about mental illness and how it can cripple a person's life, and how prevalent and common it really is.  I was talking about how people who don't understand mental illness think of raging lunatics who talk to themselves, are homeless and unkempt, or the Arkham Asylum type criminals who want to watch the world burn.  But the most common types of mental illness - depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders are the ones that one in 3 people will experience in their lifetime.

But the more common mental illnesses, the person that hurts most is themselves - inside they are tortured, in pain, unsure, leaden chested, fearful.  But how about facing a killer, who in a moment of madness, took the lives of others?  Like the horrifying events in Colorado at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises?

I am not the only person who would have seen a killer.  Police officers, judges, law enforcment agents.  Families in court.  These people would have looked killers in the eyes.  I've spoken to murderers.  Drug runners, reckless car drivers... some are accidental killers, some are gang members.  For some reason they didn't disturb me.

But today, I was apprehensive because one of the patients I had to see was a murderer that chilled me.  I shouldn't be frightened - the police were there.  This man, I'd heard about it on the news....
...Police first heard about the chilling murders from an unknown man who made a triple-0 call just after 7am yesterday.  Minutes later, when police arrived at the ... address, they were greeted by a scene one senior homicide investigator described as "a slaughterhouse".
Husband and wife ... both in their 60s, were huddled together in their pyjamas, dead on a bedroom floor.  The body of one of the family's butchered chihuahuas was lying on ..., while the other dead dog was found near the back door.  As police continued their search, they discovered the body of their son ... slumped against a cupboard. All three had been stabbed repeatedly.
Veteran investigators last night described the scene as one of the worst they'd seen.
"It's like a scene from a horror movie," one investigator said.
Another said: "It's a fairly horrific crime scene ... There's blood everywhere, so we have to go through this very carefully"...
...Officers were last night being counselled, and completing their own statements about the events...
I remember stopping when I heard the news the night before, and listening, thinking to myself, what must that person have been thinking?  Was he mentally ill, a moment of craziness? Did he think the devil was within them all or something?  Little did I know that I was going to see him in a couple of days.

What would I see when I looked him in the eyes?  What was I going to say?  Was he going to try to attack me or bite me like a rabid dog, straining at his handcuffs?  Spit at me and say I was next?

What if he had a mental illness?  And didn't know what he was doing?  Like, he was caught in some sort of delusion or delerium and when he emerges from it, be horrified at what he had done?  I think of all the mental illnesses that I am fearful of, having something like that, where I cannot control what I do, where voices drive me to kill people around me, or those that I love... and then waking up from that nightmare to face the reality of what you have done... the horror brings tears to my eyes.

Or what if he was like the Colorado killer?  I can only go by what I read in the news, but he seems to show no remorse for what he did.  People are baying for his blood.  For justice.  If this man I was about to see was evil, what does it feel like to look evil in the face?

So we're at his room.  My nurses and registrar are hanging back - they don't want to have to give the police their names again and show their ID.  I want to go in though, it's one of those things where I can't seem to look away, I can't walk away.

I glance briefly at the man in the bed, his handcuffed hand discreetly hidden under the sheets.  He looks back at me, his eyes and his face expressionless.  Maybe a little bit sad.  One of the police was logging events and visitors on a piece of paper. Gosh, he has awful handwriting, I thought.  But I can't talk...

I hand over my ID and state my name and designation and why I am here.  He writes it down and I walk over to the bed and look at this man, this killer, who looks harmless and unthreatening.  His eyes are lucid, as I speak to him.

I ask him about his pain.  He had stabbed himself many times in the abdomen and arms.  He said he was in pain.  He was allowed to have a fluids today, so I can take his morphine button away.  He was going to have a hearing today, I wondered if he needed to be drug free to face it, but I don't think it's humane to leave him in pain, no matter what he did.  So I put him on morphine tablets, reassure him that he will get enough analgesia from the tablets to help with his pain and if he needed, he could ask for more.  He said "Thank you, doctor," and turned his gaze back towards the ceiling.  At the back of my mind, a little voice was saying "You can make him suffer for his crimes.  Why should he be in comfort when he has inflicted such pain?"

No.  I am not his judge or his jury.  I am his physician.  My duty of care is to him.  When I looked at him all I saw was a human being.  A patient.  Not a murderer, a cold blooded killer, an embodiment of evil.  I wonder, if I had seen that in his face, would that have changed what I said?  My heart goes out to his slaughtered family.  How terrified they must have been.  And what about the family and friends left behind to deal with this nightmare?  My thoughts are with them as well.

But I AM afraid.  A monster like that can live within any of us.  I don't want that monster to be me, I don't want to be out of control one day and do something I regret for all eternity.  He even killed the DOGS.  And please, if you reply this post, no talking about how Chihuahuas deserved to be killed.  Nobody deserves to die like that.  Even if you are the worst person in the world, the devil himself, being killed slowly by someone that you loved and you thought loved you is surely one of the most heartbreaking things that anyone can experience.

I don't know why I can't get this thought out of my head, or why of all things it has really shocked me to the core.  Perhaps it's just one of those things that I need to sleep on to get out of my system.  Whatever the reason, my apologies to all my readers for having to read this sad and horrible story!  Normal World of Warcraft posts will resume tomorrow.


Comments

  1. No need to apologise for writing a post like this to help you deal with seeing and treating this person. It's often hard to wrap your head around how or why someone does what they do? Did they just snap? Especially when it's someone you know.

    I heard about this story a couple of times on the news but sadly, these kinds of stories happen far to often.

    I'm proud of how you behaved in that situation and wouldn't expect anything less from you.

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    1. Thanks Cym :) Yeah, all these sad stories happen way too much, but somehow gang fights and killings I can handle, druggies killing people for money for drugs I can handle, but this... he looked like any other person.

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  2. I am honored to know an angel like you, knowing you are out there balacing the scales.

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    1. Angel? I'm not sure about that! (Though Zwingli made a post about me being an Angel... :P )
      But thanks for the sentiment Matty!

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  3. "But I AM afraid. A monster like that can live within any of us. I don't want that monster to be me, I don't want to be out of control one day and do something I regret for all eternity."

    I think that's probably the line between those who kill and those who don't. When push comes to shove or circumstances collide I imagine most of us have it in us to take a life but it's being afraid of the monster inside which helps keep us off that path.

    I've only ever met one convicted murderer (I met him through work and he was a broken man) but I grew up around men who had killed for their country and I came to understand really quickly that for most people killing is opening a pandora's box that you can never close. My Grandfather had nightmares about war and the destruction he helped wreck upon innocent and guilty lives right up to his death, a good 54 years later. None of us were ever too sure what he did in Europe during those years and given his screams in the night, I suspect that was a blessing. The same goes for quite a few of my school friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, what they did, what they saw changed them forever.

    It doesn't matter why you do it, whether it's a response to a life times abuse or because you're fighting a war or simply because you can. The end result mostly seems to be the same and that's a bridge I know I don't want to cross. If it was the only way of saving the people I love, perhaps then I'd damn myself but in any other regard, the price is too high.

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    1. I think the price of taking a life is very high. Soldiers would understand that more than most. But even killing for your country isn't enough to make your soul feel clean or even absolved, and the horror they have to face with in the aftermath can be too much for even the strongest mind.

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    2. The mental illness and PTSD of soldiers is at an alarming rate. I fear for my country in ways I never thought imaginable before.

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  4. Hopefully writing it down will help. I know I couldn't go to sleep after something like that. You behaved as I would have expected you to.

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    1. Thanks Ancient. Writing it down does help, and makes me realise that sympathising for a killer does not MAKE me a killer or a wanna be killer. I think I was very tired to even be thinking that.

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  5. You did good Navi. I used to work in a hospital environment. I've seen more than enough death. I've not ran into a murder, just people feeling the all to real ramifications of their actions.

    I have to say, the hardest event I was ever a part of was an infant death. I was able to be with the parents when it was all over. To say it was difficult is an understatement.

    Z

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    1. Thanks Zwingli. Death is always hard, whether it's your 1st one or its your 100th, each one will still always shake you. Life is not a trivial thing. Babies, I agree with you, are hard, and I hope you don't have to see any more of those.

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  6. Navimie, you did the right thing. Yes, he does deserve to suffer for his crimes. But you are a doctor, a healer. You took an oath. I'm glad you stuck to it. That puts you far, far above him.

    Everyone has the monster inside. It's just whether or not we've learned to ignore it, silence it, or grind it down deep inside that seperates us from the truly wicked people out there.

    I've heard of more than a few stories similar to this. Doctors have to make the choice more frequently than any of them would like to admit. They have the power to punish someone terrible. But doing so would cost them everything, including their integrity.

    And integrity is all we have sometimes.

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    1. Thanks Hyperious. You know, I wanted to hate him for his crime... I couldn't, because there was nothing in his countenance that I could latch onto TO hate. And I think I'm torn over the fact that I felt sympathy for a murderer, wondering what does that mean about me? I think that's what has made me anxious, is that I was feeling sympathy for a killer, and people might not understand that, or even be angry at me for doing so.

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    2. It says a lot about your own character when you refuse to use your own power to cause pain to someone who has caused terrible harm to others when it is your duty to be providing care and treatment. Others have said it here and all I can do is add my assent; the care you gave him is a testament to your own integrity.

      There will be time enough to punish him, but that is for the judge and jury once he is convicted.

      Our actions define who we are and to me, you are a better person for what you chose to do.

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  7. It is very easy to make an oath lightly, to say that you will give the best of your abilities to care for those who need it. It is much harder to look at the actualities of the situation you find yourself in, such as you describe.

    That it bothers you, I think, is a good thing. If the moral issues DIDN't bother you, if the idea of leaving him in pain sat well with you, that would say far too much about you. +1 to what Hyper said and don't feel the need to apologise to us :)

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    1. Inside, I KNOW that is right, it is sometimes a strange feeling about what you should do to what you WANT to do. I WANTED to hate him. What he did was bad. But I couldn't hate him. And that was the conflicting thing.

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  8. I am glad you are able to even write these things down and get them out of your head. Every time I read these articles (and you have written couple that have hit me square on the chin) I am amazed that I am lucky enough to even call you a friend.

    You were able to handle it well, and keep your cool, you are a very brave person Navi. You inspire people to be better and I think all you can do is hope that the good outweighs the bad - perhaps one day it will :D

    Hugs and kisses Navi. You got through a rough day. Thank you for sharing,

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    1. Thanks for the Hugs and Kisses Dragonray :) Thanks for reading too! The compliment you just gave was huge!!! I am honoured to be your friend, I am honoured to be anybody's friend!
      Good always outweighs bad, I think. Well, I'd like to think so.

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  9. Wow... I live in Sydney and the extent of this crime shocked my family and I deeply, but I didn't have to deal with it personally, in the same way as you have. Hopefully getting it out on paper will help to process it and manage those feelings.I don't know how I would feel myself, if confronted face to face with this person, who has allegedly committed those crimes (we still don't know the whole story yet) :-(

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    1. It's true we don't know the whole story yet, but even if they were terrible people (which I don't think they were but I don't know) I still don't think anyone deserved what they got. It's strange, but when it happens so far away, like another country, it doesn't affect me as much as having to look and deal with it in your own backyard.

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  10. The professional and moral, an age old argument always come into play with these situations. What actions you chose, and what actions you take will be the decider upon how you sleep at night. Can people change? Do they deserve a second chance? Ultimately who are we to decide for them, despite their current state, and possible intent? I work in law enforcement - parole/ probation. I fell into this industry, not really knowing what it entails, and I will never forget my first month. I received a client, who was my friends father. I Informed my boss, and he told me it would be 'character building' to see it through. This man had been imprisoned for ten years for sexually abusing his children (my friend, and her siblings). It was difficult for me, to work with him, having a personal connection, as I knew his family. Later in overseeing this mans parole,he exhibited signs of self harm and suicide ideation. I took appropriate steps to intervene, and I will never forget my boss saying that I was 'over servicing, and 'not to worry' if this man ended his life. I have my views on life, and my colleagues and close ones also. And I know myself, what ever presents itself, if those need help, despite what their past was, I will always do what I can.Navi despite what you felt with treating this man, your role was to help him, and to focus on the individual, not their past, poor deeds or what not, Not many have the ability to overlook this and provide a service.

    Jinjer

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  11. You're very noble jinj. I wish everyone was like you.

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  12. Hi Navi. This guy has affected two people close to me now. Mrs Mabaho worked on him when he came in first. That wasn't a pleasant experience either and I don't envy choices you both have to make so often. I'm sure penning this entry has helped you. Take care my friend

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