EVIL'S ORDINARY FACE
The level of fear has risen. I don't think anyone realizes just how seriously. The murders of the Buddhist monks on August 10 have changed the climate of this city.
The other day I saw a housewife call out to two workers hired by the city to do a repair job.
She saw their pickup truck parked in the street near her house and immediately called the police. Then she accosted the men.
"I don't know who you are," she said, "but I want to know what you're doing here."
The workmen held up papers that detailed their job.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't mean to be rude. It's just hard to trust anyone now."
Unfortunately, the recent arrests by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department have neither allayed nor diminished anyone's fears.
I expected that when they brought in the men charged with the killings that their very appearance would be instructive.
I expected that men who were capable of such a crime would somehow wear the look of the outcast. But they don't look like killers.
For that reason, the photographs of the Tucson men arrested for the killings only serve to frighten people all the more.
We have seen many men like this before. In fact, we see them around us every day.
If we hadn't realized it before, we do now. Men who are capable of killing don't look any different. Some are handsome. Some are not. Some are well-dressed. Others wear old clothes.
They have only one thing in common. They are all guilty of cold-blooded murder. Richard Speck killed eight nurses in Chicago in the summer of 1966. He was ordinary looking. Since that time, he has grown middle-aged in prison and now professes to be an artist.
John Wayne Gacy strangled 33--perhaps even more--young men and buried them in the crawl space under his home. Before being arrested, he was a Democratic precinct captain who had posed for photographs with former President Jimmy Carter's wife.
On the day they brought Gacy into court for the first time, he was wearing an expensive leather jacket that anyone in the courtroom would have liked to own.
Several years ago, here in Phoenix, three men broke into the home of Marilyn Redmond and killed her husband and her stepmother. They held a gun to Redmond's head and fired a bullet into her skull. The bullet didn't kill her, and she was able to identify them at their trials.
Two of them were hired killers from Chicago who had already been convicted of murder there. They looked more like professional athletes than killers.
The third was a former Phoenix policeman. Even as a defendant in a murder trial, he looked like a man ready to write out a speeding ticket.
They have all been convicted of first-degree murder and are on death row. But you still could not look any of them in the eye and guess they were killers.
While everyone was reacting with panic to the temple killings, Maricopa County Sheriff Tom Agnos moved steadily ahead with the investigation.
He underwent open-heart surgery and rushed himself back to work. Agnos never faltered. He just gave orders to his men to proceed with the investigation.
They got lucky. And when the break came and the arrests were made, Agnos acted with quiet dignity. There was no grandstanding.
He merely called a press conference and stated the facts as he knew them.
People keep saying now that they hope the right men are in custody. Some are willing to believe those in jail are innocent.
The stakes were too high for mistakes to be made. Agnos knows that.
The wonder of our political process is that sometimes the right man is actually elected to office. That's clearly what happened when the people elected Sheriff Tom Agnos.
The arrests by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department have neither allayed nor diminished anyone's fears.
Sometimes the right man is actually elected to office. That's clearly what happened when the people elected Sheriff Tom Agnos.
IRON MIKE IS OUT OF CONTROL... v9-18-91
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