Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Too Close To Home-Revisited

You may recall back on March 19th, I published a post concerning the arrest of John Couey in Augusta, Ga for the murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. It was especially distressing to me because this child murderer was caught within 15 miles of where my two young children, their mother, and I, do all of our working, playing, living, and breathing. This is our home, the place where we feel the most secure, the place where we know most everyone on a first name basis.
That said, I guess it should come as no surprise that the deja-vu that occured this afternoon was, to say the least, quite unsettling.

Just as on March 19th, I was following my usual routine, driving home from work while listening to Austin Rhodes on WGAC AM Augusta. Just as on March 19th, he interrupted a segment with breaking news that yet another murder suspect was nabbed in Augusta. This time it wasn't a child murderer, but that did little to raise my comfort level. He was still a murderer on the run, and he had made a pit stop in my own backyard.

In case you haven't been following the story, the suspect's name is Steven Stanko. He was wanted for the murder of two people, and the rape of a teenage girl near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He has stated that was in town to attend the Masters Tournament.

He was apparently turned in by a woman who had met him here and at some point realized who he was. It was reported that he had been staying with her after meeting her in a restaurant over the weekend, and had set up a later meeting with her that proved to be his undoing. The woman agreed to meet him and then contacted the Richland County Sheriff's Department, who then contacted the Horry County officials who had been searching for him. They, along with the U.S. Marshal Service were then able to close in on him.

He was nabbed coming out of the Atlanta Bread Company after eating and had previously been in the Hallmark store buying a card for his new love interest. Although these events have hit very close to home (my family and I have shopped and eaten in these very establishments), it does give me comfort to know that we have in our midst quick thinking citizens such as the woman who turned him in, and law enforcement officials who in less than a month have nabbed two dangerous individuals with no additional loss of life. They are to be commended.

I can't say that I know what has been drawing these criminals here, but through these events I have realized that the neighbors I wave to each morning, go to church with on Sunday, and do business with during the week, are the same people who are watching my back 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and keeping me safe at home. It's a good feeling to know they are here, and I hope some day to have the opportunity to return the favor.

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