I’m a sucker for news stories like this:
Few visitors make their way past the cactus garden and into the dark ranch-style home where Randy and Amy Loughner have spent much time grieving alone. The rampage in which their troubled 22-year-old son is accused opened a fault line between them and the rest of this recovering city.
But beyond Tucson, two people who have never met the Loughners are now seeking them out, and others are likely to follow.
When Jared L. Loughner was identified as the gunman who shot 19 people here two Saturdays ago, his parents joined a circle whose membership is a curse: the kin of those who have gone on killing sprees. Now, others in this circle of relatives are beginning to issue invitations to the Loughners.
David Kaczynski, brother of Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomber, left a message with Mr. Loughner’s public defender offering his ear if the parents wanted to talk to “someone with a similar experience,” he recalled.
Robert P. Hyde of Albuquerque had the same instinct. The brother of a mentally ill man who killed five people, two of them police officers, Mr. Hyde looked up the Loughners’ address and mailed them a letter inviting them to contact him. The gist of his letter, Mr. Hyde said by phone, was that “what happened is not your fault.”
After killing sprees in American towns and cities, the relatives of the gunmen face the intense scrutiny of neighbors who wonder how far the apple fell from the tree, or if the home environment was abusive, shaping a killer. Grief from these relatives can provoke a complex reaction as the outside world ponders whether they are victims in their own right, or the gunman’s enablers, or both.
While the actual victims of crimes and their relatives “have people pulling for them,” Mr. Hyde said, “we on the other side don’t want to even broach that subject. I will never say, ‘I lost my brother, too — I’ll never go fishing with him again.’
“It would look cold and callous,” he added. “People don’t understand. And you don’t want to offend anybody.”
So, he concluded, “you just suck it up.”
I can’t imagine what that must be like for a mother, to see her little baby boy as a murderer.