I suppose I have to process this. It is the news that a young lady was brutally raped and murdered not fifteen miles from my house. The lady's name is Theresa Halbach, and this case has rapidly become national news.
It has not become national news because the deed committed against her was so heinous and rare. On the contrary, this type of crime occurs every single day in our nation. It has not become national news because the news media cares so deeply about Theresa and her family. I wish that were the case. Rather, it has become national news because of the connection between her alleged attacker, Steven Avery, and his past.
Steven Avery was released from prison a short while ago after serving eighteen years for a rape he did not commit. He has a case pending against Manitowoc county for millions of dollars because of the wrongful imprisonment. The question has already been asked; Why does a man with a very winnable case suddenly commit this crime? Many around here believe he didn't, despite the evidence against him. I do not know how much he is suing for, but the most common amount I have heard repeatedly is 36 million dollars. The most common opinion is that he deserved it, and would get it. You would think such a man would have absolutely no reason to commit any crime of any type.
So the focus of this case has been on the alleged attacker, and not on the disappearance of a girl named Theresa. That disappearance has now turned into a rape/murder case, and we will never get to see Theresa alive this side of heaven again. The local and national media have all focused on the connection between Steven Avery and His past; it is the stuff of TV movies, and they are doing their best to keep interest in this aspect of the case alive. We are left asking why?
Yesterday, on my way to Manitowoc (a city which is barely a few miles south of my home, Two Rivers) I drove as if in a haze. My thoughts centered on Theresa Halbach, and what she must have felt during the last hours of her life. Despite the terror of being raped and abused, would she not have in the end, still hoped to escape alive? Wouldn't she have desparately wanted to cling to life, hoping beyond hope to see her family again? If only she could just live, she could process this attack, she could survive it, and move on with her life. But that opportunityy was taken away from her. In the end, she was left without a choice; she was killed because she was no longer of any worth to the man who attacked her. Instead, she became a liability to him, and he couldn't afford to let her live to tell her tale.
I do not know if Steven Avery is guilty. The crime scene, if that is where she was actually killed, is only fifteen miles from my house. The highway leading to the scene has been closed off for a week, and no one can drive straight through any more. Our small town existence has been intruded upon by hundreds of police officers and of course, the media. The ever-loving media. They are allowed to be in the vicinity of the crime, spinning their stories despite fact, trying to make the loudest noise so everyone will listen to them.
But the loudest voice I hear today is Theresa's, crying out for Daddy in her last moments of life. If not out loud, certainly in her heart. I hear her screaming pleas of mercy to ears that have become deaf to absolute anguish. I hear her fear, her whole body will not stop shaking, and every time her attacker approaches, her breath shortens, and eyes widen as her soul screams out to God for help! There is no one coming to help her, there isn't even a physical body who will come to her and hold her tightly, letting her know after all that she will be alright. She will never again, from those last moments onward, be comforted in this life by another human being. She will only know terror, torture, and in the end, an utter lack of mercy. Mercy was beyond hope.
The real story, not the garbage you will see on television or read in the papers, is that young Theresa cried out to someone, anyone, for mercy and aid. No one answered, "yes". The only answer she received was the cold look of death in her attackers eyes. The only story worth telling now is for us to face this pain she felt, to process it, KNOW it, think about it, all of us, so that it never happens again.
It will, of course, happen over and over every day in this nation. Can you imagine the pain and fear? Can you imagine your soul tearing in pieces? Can you imagine yourself being Theresa? Can you get there? The people we will meet for the rest of our lives need us to get there. They need us to feel what Theresa felt, at least even a small part, so that we will not wish or carry out that kind of crime upon anyone else. So that we will not harm our neighbor but will instead see a person just like Theresa, someone who is worth dying for, so that she will not have to die in our stead.
Why do we ask "Why?" We know why. We know because Theresa is just a story for the media to tell. And Steven Avery, if he is actually guilty, is just an interesting TV movie waiting to be shown. That is what we normally reduce these "stories" and the people in them to.
But I can't hear the media's story above the screams in my head from a girl named Theresa Halbach.