I cover crimes all the time where I just want to wrap my arms around the victims and take away all the pain, but, of course, it's never that easy or simple. The toughest cases to cover are those victims who are involved in tragedies because of someone else's choices, like children.
If what police say is true, and John Kastner really did murder his wife last week in West Tulsa, the victims who will have to live with that decision are the Kastner children, 9 and 15. Through no fault of their own, they've been thrust into a tailspin of pain, grief, confusion and irrevocable consequences. When I asked John Kastner, after his arrest, if he had anything to say about the situation, he casually said, "Not right now, but, thanks." I realize talking about the case wouldn't make sense, but, I'd have to say something like, I'm so worried about my children or they are the most important thing now.
It's not fair, I realize, to expect people to respond to crisis or grief or tragedy the way you would, but, I know his children had been on my mind and in my heart from the moment I was assigned to go to the Kastner home, hearing the Mom of the family had been shot to death.
And, this week, I've worked on the story of a four-year old boy who died under suspicious circumstances. Police arrested the boy's father for failing to get the child medical help. I don't know what the father's role is in the death, if there even is one, but, my heart goes out to a baby who was possibly suffering or hurting and no one came to his aid, no one comforted him, or held him close. His death most likely wasn't because of any decision or choice he made, but, that someone else did.
Last week, I also covered the case of an eight year old girl who was in a van with her two younger siblings when a man carjacked them and took off and then sexually assaulted her. They were in the van with their Mom at midnight at a tanning salon. You ought to be able to be anywhere at any time in our society and not get carjacked, but, that's not the reality we live in. That man's choice to steal the car, his decision to attack her had consequences she'll deal with the rest of her life. She's the one who was in fear, she's the one who needed surgery, she's the one who must figure out how to survive it.
It's never easy to cover stories where children are victims, but, to have three in one week, has me thinking more than ever about how tender and precious they are. It has me thinking about all the decisions we grown-ups make, that have a lasting impact on the most innocent of our society.