Something has been heavy in my mind lately. Last year I, like so many of us, got into Serial, the NPR Podcast on the death of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the case against her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who had been convicted of her murder. I was not just ‘in to” Serial I was OSBESSED with it. My husband I listened, we researched and the hours we spent discussing it and the Undisclosed podcast, well, we probably could have gotten a lot of other stuff done. It seemed clear that Adnan Syed was not guilty, or at the very least was not given a fair trial. It was all about Adnan. But my heart was filled with Hae.
A few months ago Making a Murderer took Netflix by storm. Was Teresa Halbach really murdered by Steven Avery or was this an intricate plot by the state? This documentary took me longer to get into and honestly, I’m less outraged by it than most, with the exception of the (then) young cousin. I finished it a week ago and have crossed Manitowoc off my vacations spots thank you very much. I know all about the Avery family, and not nearly enough about Teresa Halbach.
This past week Serial’s Syed had a hearing for a new trial, it began on Tuesday and wrapped up the following Monday and I hit refresh on that Twitter hashtag like I was playing the quarter slots in Vegas.
But still my heart was heavy.
I understand the stories of the killers are always the most fascinating. I love this stuff. And here we have two VERY intricate cases of what appears to us all as well, a criminal investigation clusterfuck. But I know all too well how the victim, and the victims families are usually a one liner at the end of the article or news story.
My father was murdered when I was a very little girl and I know how it can destroy a family
I keep thinking about the Halbach family, and especially this week, Hae Min Lee’s family. You see, every time there is an appeal, every time anything comes up it resets the grief clock. It’s losing your loved one all over again. And when you’ve lost someone in a vile and violent way, it’s horrific.
Today I saw a tweet about the Lee family and their “misplaced”anger. How could they be so certain about Adnan? How could they not be furious with the judicial system???
Because they have to be. And so do the Halbachs. And so did we. Because in the dark of the night when you can’t sleep and you mind goes to your loved ones last horrible moments-seared into your brain in a minute by minute account- the only balm we have for the wound is that their murderer won’t kill again. There will be other murders. But no one else will suffer the same exact fate as our loved one at the hand of their killer. No other family will suffer the same loss because we got him. He is off the street and that gives our loss a strange meaning. Their death may have saved others.
My family had a luxury they don’t. We absolutely had the right guy. We had witness after witness, his own words, evidence…it was a lock. Yet every appeal destroyed us.
My mother taught me early that it’s no good just to get a guy, you have to get THE guy. And we had the guy.
Still, I remember seeing my father’s killers children on tv (then older than my father was when he was murdered) begging for their father’s life (and this is NOT a DP debate) I remember feeling so…outraged and forgotten. This man who had destroyed so many had three squares a day and a fully paid for degree, and 19 years to get to know his kids while we struggled, and I didn’t have one memory of my father. I have memories of the trials and sentencing though.I was furious with the empathy given to them (I’m grown now and can appreciate their loss as well) and my father? He was an afterthought
The Lees and Halbachs are going through this a thousand fold. Only so much worse.
I cannot speak for them exactly, but it’s the worst nightmare, their loved one is being murdered all over again and it feels like the world values their murderer over the victim.
So please, be kind. Remember Teresa and Hae. Understand their families pain. They hold NO RESPONSIBILITY for the convictions. As we tweet and support Adnan (which I do) remember their pain. They are just trying to breathe day by day.
It really is no good to get any guy, you have to get THE guy. And currently there are too many questions about whether Adnan Syed is the guy. A new trial will answer that once and for all but for them? It’s torture. It’s terror. It’s happening all over again.
Justice for Hae is tied to justice for Adnan. If he is innocent then Hae’s murderer still walks free and the comfort that her death was not in vain is taken from them as well.
So yes, absolutely we need reform. We need to look hard at cases like Adnan Syed. But let’s not let the victims be victimized all over again. We can do that by understanding their outrage if they have it. By allowing them to rage without repercussion from us, the bystanders. Because they fear the loss of another’s loved one. They fear the loss of the comforting thought in the middle of the night.
And most importantly by not letting their loved ones be only a final line in the article.