Sep 1, 2008

Innocence lost: Unthinkable crimes committed against children still haunt St. Regis

These two articles about the Groene murders illustrate well the far reaching effects that violent crimes can have on so many. I have followed this case since 2005, when three members of the Groene family, including a 13 year old boy, were found brutally murdered in thier Cour De lene home and the two youngest children went missing, apparently kidnapped by the killer.

I had recurring thoughts about the deaths of this family for months. I prayed and prayed that the missing Groene children were still alive, although I feared the worst. I empathized deeply with the biological father of the children Steve Groene, whose face on the news clearly bore the anguish of the loss of one son and the growing possibilty that his youngest two might have met the same fate
I was thus overjoyed when most unexpectedly,Shasta,the younger of the two missing children, was found Alive and seemingly well at a Dennys restaurant in Cour de lene-of all places.
-My joy, was hampered however by the ominous abscence of 9 yr old Dylan, a boy whose sweet face had become seared into the collective consciece of a country.

Steve Groene announced on the news that thePolice and FBI were certain of nothing at this point and the family was still hopeful that Dylan be found alive, But the prospect of this seemed
grim. And on the internet,where evolving news is often ahead of and more comprehensive than mainstream media, bits of fact here and there began to paint a grim prognosis;of particular concern was Shasta's claim to responding law enforcemnt,that her brother Dylan was " in heaven now"
I can vividly remember hoping,that this claim was the result of a childsconfusion under deep duress, or perhaps a fanciful ideation-a notion that she assumed or pehaps was even told to her by her captor, albeit not true. Our minds did double time wanting to believe that this young
boy was still alive...Perhaps dylan was taken to another area and thekidnapper merely told shasts this to pacify her?.

We prayed and we waited-There was nothing else anyone could do.

Within days an announcement was made that Dylan was feared dead and a search was being conducted in an area that Shasta was believed to have been held captive, Days later we were told that remains had been found and they would be tested for Dylans DNA.
My heart just sunk."Remains" was all that was left left of beautiful innocent sweet Dylan Groene.
my heart just sunk.
The news followed that the remains were in fact Dylan and he was believed to have been shot and killed by the convicted pedophile Joseph Duncan, the man that Shasta had been found with.
I waited and waited for the trial, angry at the plethora of delays constantly thrown out by the defense attorneys for Joseph Duncan,III -A man now believed by the FBI and several crime bloggers to be a serial child killer, responsible for at least 3 other
sexual ssaults/murders of children since his release from prison for an aggravted rape and assualt that he committed when only 17 years of age.

I was still waiting two years later,when we had a violent tragedy right here in Connecticut-The Petit family of Cheshire had been kidnapped, assaulted and Mrs Hawke-Petit and her two daughters murdered in their own home. Dr Petit was assaulted but managed to survive.

I could not help but think about the Groene murders as the details of the Petit crimes unfolded. There were children involved in both sets of crimes, and murders of the adult parents of the children-- It appeared that both sets of murders were motivated by sex crimes against children, and in the Petit's case, also an adult woman for Mrs Petit had been sexually assaulted as was her her 11 year old daughter, before they were killed.

And While these two families may appear to be very different from one another on the outside-insofar as things like demographics economic advantages educational backgrounds and just plain lifestyles- those differences dissapear when violence like this befalls a family. In the end, it is their commonalities that matter.; These were both families with children that were clearly loved. Each had their own histories, spoke their own privatelanguage, nicknames, personal likes dislikes, and lifetimes of shared memories and milestones-Christmases birthdays, school plays and first days of school. And in both families, there were to be many more memories to come.

Those memories were stolen, in both cases by repeat offenders, each of whom were given way too many chances by thierespective Judicial systems, despite dangerous criminal histories in all of their cases; All three were on parole at the time that they committed these crimes-Duncan was on parole for one crime and on bail for another committed during his parole. They all had been given extremely low bail amounts on different occasions for serious crimes with a high potential for causing loss of life. None of them served their full sentences prior to parole, and all of them had been paroled recklessly with insufficient consideration fiven to the clear danger that they posed to our society.

It is clear from these cases and others like them that our judicial systems have become co-accomplices to dangerous predators like Joseph Duncan, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky. In too many instances,we have had these killers within our systems grasp before they killed and they are routinely under sentenced, irresponsibly bailed, probated and paroled, with nary a consideration for their future victims,let alone the ones that they've already harmed.
And these two devastating crimes are but two of many, many others that occur every year across this country. We are facing a veritable crisis regarding violent crime. Wemust begin a process of change and reform in every state that has flaws within its handling of violent offenders. Bureaucracies rarely change on their own, they require consistent pressure from the outside and this demands our involvement on an individual and community level.

Please get involved. There are few "issues" that demand as much of your time and energy.
Learn who your local legislators are, they make your state's laws. Watch their records re crime and vote accordingly. Petition for tougher parole or no parole in your
home state for dangerous offenders. Push for Minimum sentencing and bail minimums
for violent crimes, including home invasion, sexual assault and all crimes involving children. We have learned a great deal about what types of crimes are pre-cursors to murders. We also have abundance of knowledge re predators of children and thierikelihood of recidivism. We must find a way to ensure that those offenders are not given a chance to harm another child.

Hold prosecutors and Judges accountable for lenient plea deals. We are intelligent people- If we are facing docket and prison overcrowding within our state, this is not an excuse to begin letting dangerous predators roam the streets.

More and more states are now handling their less serious crimes in alternative style courts where incarceration is the absolute last remedy, This saves money and beds in prison as well as serving to divert low level offenders who historically pose little to no threat to society, from a system that often consumes them.

Innocence lost: Unthinkable crimes committed against children still haunt St. Regis

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