Friday, October 26, 2012

Both sides grieve

MVFHR member Lois Robison, whose son Larry was executed in Texas and who has been active in our Prevention, Not Execution project, is quoted extensively in yesterday's story, "Wisconsin Spa Shooting Brings Back Painful Memories for the Moms of Mass Killers."  MVFHR Executive Director Renny Cushing is quoted too:

News of Sunday’s shooting at a spa in Wisconsin brought back painful memories for Lois Robison, more than 1,000 miles away in Burleson, Texas.

Robison’s son, Larry, was executed in 2000 for the brutal murders of five people near Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1982. Every time it happens again, every time a gunman takes to a mall or a Sikh temple or a school playground, bent on rampage, Robison remembers her own son.
This past week, it was the shooting at the Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wis., that triggered those flashbacks. There, Radcliffe Haughton Jr. reportedly shot seven women, three of them fatally, including his wife, before turning the gun on himself.
It didn’t take television crews long to reach the man’s distraught father, Radcliffe Haughton Sr., the following day. “All I can say is, I want to apologize to the people of Milwaukee who have been hurt,” Haughton Sr. told a reporter on Monday. “He did not give me any hint of what he would do.”
He did not give me any hint of what he would do.
Haughton Sr. appeared to be answering an implied question, one that’s asked either directly or indirectly of parents and other relatives every time such a tragedy unfolds—“Did you see this coming? Why didn’t you stop it?” It’s why, when Arlene Holmes told a reporter “You have the right person,” after her son allegedly went on a shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., last summer, many assumed she was saying, “I knew it was him.” Holmes later clarified she was talking about herself, not her son. ...
These are unfair queries, says Renny Cushing, executive director of the Boston nonprofit Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights. Cushing’s own father, Robert, was murdered in 1988, and Renny has dedicated his life to opposing the death penalty. He has worked with many relatives of murder victims and of killers over the years. Both sides grieve, but in different ways, he says.
“Being the family member of a murderer is incredibly isolating,” Cushing says. “There’s a shame attached to it, a stigma, so they remain silent about their loved one. People will impute responsibility on them for the actions of the family member. Society’s fear gets projected upon you, and you end up being pretty isolated.”
Lois Robison knows that all too well. She knew the day she found out her son had gone on a shooting rampage, she said in the fragile Texas drawl of a 79-year-old woman. That day, she recalls, she turned to her husband and said, “Now our whole lives will be different.”
She was right. Robison had talked to her son Larry just the night before, she said. He was at his sister’s house, and something was wrong. Mom was trying to talk her son into coming over, to her home in Burleson. Larry said he couldn’t.
“The next morning, I woke up and found out he was the one who killed all those people,” she said.

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