Friday, September 4, 2009

The Georgia Murders

Last Saturday morning, a man called 911 in Brunswick, GA, and said that he had returned home to find 7 members of his family dead and two critically injured.  One of the two died on the way to the hospital.  The other is still on life support.  Today, the caller was arrested for the murders.

It's hard to imagine something more horrific than this.  It's difficult to imagine what brings a person to this level of violence, particularly against their own family.  It's also hard to imagine how Diane Isenhower, whose ex-husband, four children, ex-brother-in-law and ex-sister-in-law, as well as her daughter's boyfriend, were all murdered and whose grandchild is in critical condition, moves on from something like this.  Now her ex-husband's nephew is under arrest.  That hardly makes things less complicated.

What particularly caught my attention in the coverage were a couple of comments that various people made about how those affected were coping.  Isenhower's brother-in-law, Clint Rowe, expressed concern about the police officers:
They're the ones who walked in on that, so you know it wears on the police as well.
I think it's remarkable that a member of this family would think of the police at this moment.  It's not that, when you think about it, it's particularly surprising that police officers would be affected by working on a case like this, particularly if they were on scene when the bodies were first found.  It's just remarkable that anyone from the family would think of it, given what they themselves are going through.

The Police Chief also commented on the burden of what the police are going through right now.  Chief Matt Doering responded to some criticism that police have not released much information about the case, and said that releasing more information will not stop people from being afraid:
We, too, have that same fear. We're the ones that have to get out there and try to make people feel better as best that we can

I felt a personal connection with the Chief when I read this.  As a school administrator, I have several times been in the position of having to keep things confidential in a crisis and under pressure, and to reassure people about safety when I wasn't feeling so safe myself.  People get very upset when they feel they don't have all the information, but often that is more about directing their anxiety and anger towards the nearest available target than it is about anything those in charge have done wrong.

Information does help, but it doesn't change reality and sometimes it just can't be released.  At the end of the day, even with all the information in the world, this community must come to grips with the fact that 8 people were brutally murdered, allegedly by one of their own.  Knowing the intimate facts of the case will not make that much easier.


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Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
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