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September 10, 2013 8:10 am

EDITORIAL: Questions will always linger about murders

Written by Tom Lawrence

The all-too-vivid memories of the triple murder in rural Clark earlier this year will remain with many of us for years, perhaps decades.

One question continues to hang in the air: Why?

It seems doubtful we will ever know, but we will continue to turn the events over in our minds. What caused this to happen?

The crazed violence, crass inhumanity and the sheer ineptitude of Tanner B. Vanpelt and Stephen F. Hammer left a deep stain on the region. In a horrible matter of minutes, five lives were ruined, and all merely because two confused, foolish, dangerous teenagers wanted to steal a car.

Ildiko Freitas, 40, and her parents, Janos Volgyesi, 69, and Hildegard Volgyesi, 70, were shot and murdered by Vanpelt and Hammer on March 2. Freitas and the Volgyesis are gone forever, taken from their peaceful lives through no fault of their own.

We also recognize that other people had their lives shattered by this horrific crime. Our hearts go out to John Freitas, Thomas Volgyesi and other loved ones and friends who continue to endure unimaginable heartache.

On Sept. 3, Vanpelt and Hammer were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Six months after they coldly killed three people, their young lives were squashed, as they almost assuredly will spend the remainder of their days behind bars.

Three dead. Two young men sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Again we ask, and can find no solution. Why?

Tragically, it seems such senseless killings are becoming more and more common. Reading newspapers and following other media reports, one can easily become inundated with murders committed by young people, almost always males. The stories seem to pop up almost every day.

Two teenage boys, one 16, the other 15, were arrested in Riverton Thursday in connection with the death of a 25-year-old man, whose body was found next to an unconscious woman. The boys have each been charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

A 19-year-old Billings, Mont., man kills his great-grandmother after a quarrel, and steals her TV and car before heading out on a joy ride to Denver with three friends.

Three Oklahoma teenagers shoot a man out jogging, and one tells authorities they did it because they were bored.

The stories pile up. If you Google “teen killers,” more than 23 million links pop up. The stories are remarkable for their violence and cruelty, while the killers are fascinating for another reason: They look like kids we see every day, with unlined faces and vacant-looking eyes.

But for some reason, most likely one they don’t even understand themselves, they have killed. Why?

In court last week, Vanpelt and Hammer apologized for their terrible crimes, and said they so want those moments back. They wish it had never happened, as if wishing could erase their crimes.

One thing does seem to stand out the more we read about these cases. The killers had not reasoned out the consequences of their actions. They had not anticipated the results of their actions.

They live in the minute, unaware of what their criminal acts will mean to their lives. Why?

Are they desensitized to violence, seeing it on TV, in movies and in video games? Do they not receive enough parental guidance, with boundaries set for them, and consequences for mistakes and misdeeds? Are their minds and souls twisted by alcohol and/or drugs? Are guns and other weapons too readily available?

We keep thinking about the murders in our midst for some time. We will grope for answers and try to find ways to prevent more such heinous crimes from occurring. But we surely always have to wonder why this happened in Clark, and why it keeps happening in our country.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link September 19, 2013 3:44 am posted by morgan

    It will be interesting to see who shot the campers in Ten Sleep this past week in the middle of the night. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the outcome could have been the same. I suspect the "senselessness" of it is the same. What kind of people live amongst us?

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