Only one cure for evil: death

Chuck Kurtz

Chuck Kurtz

Mid-afternoon Wednesday, I was sitting on the couch in my son’s home and next to me, as usual, was 4-year-old granddaughter Rylin, snuggling next to me while playing doctor and dentist on her tablet. Then she stretched out, putting her head on the pillow and her legs and feet across my lap.

“Tickle my feet,” she said.

And, of course, I obliged.

We talked about her day in school, about how she ate the rest of Mee-Moo’s (Grandma Terri’s) meatloaf for lunch, and then began playing a maze game. We took turns helping each other.

“We make a pretty good team,” I told her.

“Yep! We make a pretty good team,” she said.

One of those precious moments that, put together, create a lifetime of memories. There is no way to put a price on them. They just happen. They make you feel good. They make life worth living.

And yet, while I was enjoying this precious slice of time with Rylin, my mind also was flashing to the thoughts of 10-year-0ld Hailey Owens’ parents and grandparents; about how they have been robbed of their lifetime of priceless memories by what only can be described a pure evil. Owens was abducted near her home in Springfield, Mo., Tuesday, Feb. 18. By late Tuesday, police had arrested Craig Michael Wood in connection with her disappearance and on Wednesday filed three felony charges against him that included armed criminal action, kidnapping and first-degree murder.

The charges could carry the death penalty. Wood is in custody without bond.

Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher’s aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View K-8 School in the Springfield School District. He has worked there full-time since 2006 and has was suspended until the case is resolved.

In his home yesterday, investigators found the little girl’s body — in two trash bags.

Wood is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That’s how it should be. We are, afterall, a civilized society.

But the evidence against him is overwhelming.

Wood simply could plead guilty and spare Hailey’s family the graphic details of her last moments on earth and agonizing heartache of a trial. But Wood will not do that. He, just like other evil child predators, is a coward. As is so often the case, in a child predator’s mind, he is the victim because of his abusive childhood. It’s a common string among those who kidnap, rape, and murder children. We hear it time and again. It’s reported daily on television, on the web, and in newspaper accounts of these kinds of trials.

Their lawyers label their evil as a sickness. They want your pity. They ask for your mercy and a chance at rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation and then their names are placed on a list, as if that is going to stop evil.

If found guilty, Wood should be sentenced to death and the sentence carried out quickly. That’s the way all their cases should be sentenced because their evil cannot be cured. It only can be, and should be, permanently eliminated.

But we can’t do that because we are a civilized society.

I think these thoughts while cradling Rylin in my arms as she plays doctor with her stuffed animals, taking their temperature, looking in their ears, nose and throat and listening to their hearts before giving each a shot. In the last six year she has continually taken care of her animals and says she wants to grow up to be a doctor.

I’m always giving her a hug and a kiss on the top of her head. On this day, I feel the urge to do it more often. In my heart, I know Hailey’s parents and grandparents will forever wish they had the chance to do the same just one more time with her.

I also know that if I were Hailey’s grandpa, I would want to be Wood’s executioner. Strapped to a table and killed via an IV is too good for him. It’s too easy. I would want him to feel the pain, the fear, and the agonizing death that he had inflicted on an innocent and defenseless 10-year-old girl.

But we don’t allow that because we are a civilized society.

I hold Rylin tight and try to express the importance of never getting close to a strange person who is trying to talk with her; that she needs to scream and run away to find help. Her standard reply, as with all 4-year-olds, is why. I try to tell here how there are some bad people in the world and that I want her to always be safe.

“OK?” I say.

“OK,” she says without looking up from her stuffed animal. “I think Baby Jaguar needs a shot. Will you help me hold her?”

I hold the stuffed animal as she gets the giant toy syringe out of her medical bag and gives it a shot in its side.

“Ouch!” I say in the pretend Jaguar’s voice.

“It’s OK, Baby Jaguar. Here’s a band-aid and that will make it better,” she says.

And then she looks up at me with those big blue eyes and smiles, “We make a pretty darn good team, don’t we, Bock-Ba!”

“You bet we do,” I say.

I get a big grin. I can feel a tear forming in the corner of my eye and I bend down and kiss her on the head again.

“You bet we do! We’re always going to be a pretty darn good team.”

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