For many people, one occasion will cause a chain of events, which will affect and alter their lives forever. For some, it is love—marriage to a High School sweetheart. For others it may be the blissful creation of life—a newborn child. Yet there are those who never marry, nor do they ever have children, and for them it may be the dream career or the magical invention, which brings forth a vast sea of financial wealth. These are seemingly all positive events with what should turn out to be favorable and desirable modifications in a person’s disposition, but what happens when the event is not a positive experience.
Two of today’s headlines read “Family Accused of Cop Shooter Launches Web Site (AP),” and “Johnsburg Man Dies After Falling Through Ice on Suburban Pond (Tribune).” In both of these cases, in an instance, people’s lives had gone through dramatic life-altering changes within a flash of a moment. Although these incidents are unrelated and on the surface, they appear as different as apples and grapes, they do share a great deal between them.
In the first case, “Family Accused of Cop Shooter Launches Web Site (AP),” in Ogden Utah, 37 year-old Mathew David Stewart’s family constructed a website to raise money for his defense in the murder of a police officer. The Army Veteran, Stewart, is accused of shooting Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force Agent Jared Francom, and wounding five others when Stewart’s residence was raided on January 4, during the drug raid it was learned that Stewart was “cultivating marijuana with intent to distribute.” Stewarts faces one count of capital murder, seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, and one count of cultivating marijuana with intent to distribute.
In the second case, 47 year-old Patrick Rorig of Johnsburg, Illinois, a loving father of three, chose to spend his day off playing with his son. They grabbed the ice hockey gear and headed for the pond located yards behind his home. Patrick was a hard-working man and he loved spending his free time with his family, doing the things they enjoyed—that’s what put a smile on Patrick’s face. The ice gave way, and Patrick fell through. By the time the emergency workers were able to retrieve Patrick and the medical team was able to aid Patrick, it was too late, Patrick was gone.
As I stated, on the surface, both these events appear as different as apples and grapes, but it is below the surface where the similarity takes place—deep in the realm that we seldom ever consider. On the surface there is little to no similarity. In fact, we could safely assume they are as opposite as the sun and the moon. They may be in the same universe, but the composition of each is antithetically contrary to one another, as are the circumstances and the mindset that accompany each of these cases.
So how do I make the stretch of comparison between these cases? Well, it is not the cases, per se; it is the effect of the cases on the survivors of each atrocity. Stewart’s family, and the members of the murdered Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force Agent Jared Francom, have undergone a transformation much like that of the surviving family members of Patrick Rorig of Johnsburg, Illinois, “who died… being a dad (Tribune).”
Hardly ever, do we consider the effects of events on extended family members, especially if, or if we know someone, who has been the recipient of a violent crime—compassion normally goes out the window—for some, that is how they cope with their loss and pain. However, Adolph Hitler’s, John Wayne Gacy’s, and Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents did not set out to create diabolical monsters who would cause fear throughout nations, hurt, mutilate or murder fellow human beings. Nor did God, Mother Nature, or the forces that move our planet “decide” to create a Tsunami, cause a volcano to erupt, or put cracks in ice. As they say, and I stress I do not minimize the pain caused by accidental death or the premature taking of one’s life, for whatever reason, there are bad people in this world and accidents happen.
Unfortunately, a person who takes another person’s life rarely considers the affect it will have on the families and friends—the survivors, both the victim’s survivors and the murderer’s survivors. If they did, perhaps there would be fewer acts of murder. A father may sacrifice his life in the line of duty, during a drug bust, but his wife, children, mother and father, and siblings will carry the scars of the loss for the remainder of their lives. A man may fall through the ice while skating with his children, but they must carry that pain of loss with them the remainder of their lives.
By the way, Patrick Rorig of Johnsburg, Illinois fell through the ice saving his son who initially was the first to fall through. Patrick was unable to escape the icy fortress once the below-freezing water temperatures overwhelmed his physically fit body.
Lately, I have been working on a book. It is a true-crime nonfiction book based on a true case. The case is a national high-profile case, which I have a vested interest—my wife’s cousin was a victim in the crime—she was murdered. I have spent countless hours researching and writing. I have interviewed people and I have read sworn testimony. I refuse to make a “gut” call on what I believe. I feel that it is best to think with my head and not my gut (although, my gut has not let me down too much in the past).
The one thing I can attest to is, the families of the victims have been affected. The family of the accused has gone through “changes,” as well as, the families, and friends, of the victims. The changes have influenced them on many levels—it is bound to. The act has influenced my wife who lost her cousin, which has directly affected me, if for any other reason, to compel me to write a book in respect of honoring her cousin with a forthright and trustworthy tribute.
I have been givin the opportunity, and the gift, to write a book. Empathy for the human condition and moral purity are among my highest priorities. My intention is to bring peace and harmony where trouble and uneasiness stir. May the families and friends of those I write about find my book to be an uplifting account to the victim and her survivors.