Saturday, January 25, 2014

The saddest story

On January 16, 2014, Lindon, Utah police officer Joshua Boren, 34, shot and killed his wife, Kelly, 32, his mother-in-law Marie King, 55, and his 7-year-old son, Joshua “Jaden”, and 5-year-old daughter Haley Boren.

Boren, whom his police chief described as “the top candidate out of 70 who applied for the job,” was a well-liked police officer. According to initial reports no one saw the violence coming,

A few days later a friend of Kelly Boren said that just before she was killed Kelly had texted she was getting a divorce from Josh, that she couldn’t deal with his “rage” any more. The friend texted back, “rage?” She knew the pair were separated, but didn’t know there was any rage or violence involved in the situation.

So it ended up with five people dead.

Murder-suicide, the common name for homicide-suicide, is not unknown, but it’s usually uncommon enough that stories of it make splashy headlines like that on the front page of the January 18, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune: Police: Cop apparently killed his family, self.

A few days earlier another local woman, whose fiancé had just moved out of her house, shot and killed her two daughters and then herself.

In Joan Landino’s article, “The Psychology Behind Murder-Suicide” for the website, Joan Landino Says, she wrote:
“The perpetrators of murder-suicides also show recent damage to an interpersonal relationship or loss, in a way that is not demonstrated in suicide-only victims, who are more likely to be suffering from physical illness at the time of death. Suicide victims in their final days tend to be withdrawn, quiet, and socially isolated while murder-suicide perpetrators are more likely to exhibit escalating conflict, anger, and violent behavior culminating in the murder-suicide.”
There is also some evidence that one crime can lead to another; in this case it is possible that the story of the woman killing her children may have had something to do with Joshua Boren’s decision to commit his own crime against his family.

No one will know because of the suicide. We can’t know exactly what Joshua Boren was thinking, or why he took such an extreme step in resolving a personal problem.

Whenever I read about such a situation I think of something that happened when I was in high school in 1964. Two brothers, Wayne and Barry, were classmates of mine. They were a year apart, and I had one or the other in a couple of classes. They were both quiet and withdrawn. I never spoke with them, nor did I ever see them speaking with friends, or speaking up in class. If I thought about it at all, I probably thought they were just shy.

One day I read a story in the newspaper that said both brothers were on the front lawn of their house in an affluent section of town when the door burst open and their mother ran out of the house screaming, their father right behind her. Their dad had a gun which he used to shoot his wife, and then used to kill himself.

Wayne and Barry never came back to school. In a subsequent article following up on the murder-suicide it said they had gone to live with family in another state.

I sometimes think of those brothers and what their lives were like after that life-altering moment of violence. Lots of people have violent episodes in their lives and there can be varying degrees of depression or mental problems for the survivors. Fifty years ago getting counseling or psychiatric help for victims wasn’t common like it is today. I wondered how much violence Wayne and Barry were exposed to in the years leading up to that ultimate act, and how much anyone else knew about what was going on. In those days we just didn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t doubt the philosophy in their household was like the philosophy my parents taught to me. If something bad happened to you then you were to pull yourself back up, get over it and move on with your life. We know now that is often just not possible, no matter how much we’d like it to be that easy.

I have no way of knowing how Wayne and Barry survived the incident, or what it meant to either of them. But like all of these murder-suicides, like the murder of the Boren family, it is a morbidly tragic story, and as bad as any violence perpetrated against another person is, to me this type of crime is the saddest of them all.

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