Stripped of the shock and horror that clouded my thoughts for days, I wake to the naked truth that a murder has taken place. That a man’s life has been stolen. That a family has been forced to bear not only a devastating loss, but a violent one.

I’ve lost loved ones to tragedy, but never to murder. The compassion I felt for Richard turns toward anger.  For his desecration of life and community and the cooperative. Truly there has been infinite beauty in the collective response to this tragedy, but there is no escaping the ugliness of it.

My anger quickly melts back into grief however as I view the Richard’s arraignment.  I hold my breath while the camera focuses in on the door from which he will enter the courtroom.  When he appears, I turn my head away, unable to bear his transformation from the wine guy to the criminal.

When Richard finally does make his way through that door, my hand flies to my mouth. It’s not just the grey sweatsuit that is two sizes too big, or even his hair, typically worn neat, that is now wildly disheveled, as if he spent his first night in jail ripping through it. What truly breaks my heart and brings me to tears is both his frame–bent and shuffling–and his face–ashen and lost.

He looks up and into the courtroom for just a moment, and his bottom lip droops as if he is about to crumble into tears.

And now I am angry at all of us. How could we have prevented this man from this self-inflicted hell? How could we have spared these families the loss of their loved ones?

Relieved to be 300 miles away, I share this new wave of grief with my friends at the shore; and I am surprised by what I see in their faces.  It is a mixture shock and compassion and fear.  Only the fear is not of someone like Richard, but of themselves. Fear that they too have a murderer inside. Fear that they might someday be stripped of their senses by rage.


Kelly Salasin, August 13, 2011

This is post #4 on the Brattleboro Food Co-op tragedy, click here to read the others.

2 thoughts on “Stripped

  1. once again, you brought words to my experience.
    i felt so angry at richard for causing such pain and suffering and then i saw the recent photo of him being lead shackled into the courtroom and my heart burst open to another layer of grief.

    and yesterday was my first day back into brattleboro since i tried to go to the coop early tuesday morning-already blocked off by police tape…
    we didn’t even try to go down to the coop (got as far as brown and roberts), but i felt such waves of sadness i felt sick. i cried on and off for the rest of the day and am still weeping as i type this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s