Saturday, November 08, 2014

Things psychopaths do

I don't know what got me thinking tonight about the time I visited Laci Peterson's house.

I'd put Graham down for bed and he'd gotten back up and was standing in his crib. We heard a thud and then some screaming, and there was blood all over his face. It wasn't as bad as it looked, once I'd wiped his face off. He's been teething and bumping his mouth on stuff and sometimes the areas where he's about to cut a tooth, it will bleed.

My husband had run out for guards to put on the crib railing and I was nursing Graham back down and I just remembered the night I stood on Laci's street. My memory is imperfect but I know there were other people there and lots of flowers and candles and all the sorts of things you'd expect. The house was dark and empty, of course.

If you don't remember, Laci Peterson was a woman who went missing Christmas of '02. Her body and that of her seven and a half month old fetus were later found in the San Francisco Bay. Her husband Scott is in jail for their murder.

I'd been working at the Union Democrat in Sonora, about an hour north of Modesto, which is where Laci and Scott lived. Back then, Sonora was not exactly a cultural mecca, so ethnic food was nearly impossible to come by. Myself and a coworker/friend decided to head to Modesto for Indian food, a Trader Joe's stock up, and at the last minute she asked me: Should we stop and see Laci Peterson's house? And I said yes right away. Back then, working as a journalist, I felt compelled and practically entitled to see these sorts of things, and this felt little different from visiting a site for an assignment.

Except then we got there, parked the car, and walked to the house. There was nothing remarkable about it at all and definitely no reason for us to have visited. It was just the uninhabited former home of a dead woman who could have been a mother if her psychopath husband hadn't murdered her so he could pursue a relationship with a blonde.

We stood there for a moment with our arms crossed. We'd come empty-handed; no flowers or notes from us. And we understood we shouldn't have gone there. It wasn't our place to visit. It was the scene of something unspeakable, and we were just engaging in a sort of dark tourism in a place we had no right to be. We quickly left.

I never think of that. I think sometimes of the case, but I rarely remember that cold night we visited Laci's home. I don't think of it in any particular way; I don't feel guilty about it or anything. I just think -- there was this infamous murder and I went to where it probably happened.

Laci's child would be 10 years old. I don't know, maybe it's the fear of something happening to my kid that made me think of her baby. It's funny -- I have no stomach for the news any more. Me! I used to digest the most horrific facts with cold detachment. Facts were facts and my job was to report them, not blubber about it. I've seen murderers, rapists, dead bodies, victimized children, burned out homes, and people who were experiencing a level of grief I'd yet to fully understand. All that stuff used to make me righteously angry, and now it just makes me terribly sad.

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