My heart breaks. A family lost their father today, his murder playing out on Facebook Live. The person responsible blamed his failed relationship, his mother’s neglect, and a host of self-made woes on his decision to take an old man’s life. I’m not sure if his rantings were meant to solicit sympathy, justify his choices or if castigating his partner, employer, friends and family just gave him something to do as he contemplated his next move. And I don’t really care. What I think about this person won’t bring Mr. Robert Godwin back to his family. And I do care about the 76-year old man whose life was cut short so callously.
The suspect is now being hunted by Cleveland police. I predict it will not end well for him whether he’s found alive or not. What he did was heinous and I pray that the repercussions will be far more than he can even begin to imagine. What he deserves should send him straight to the bowels of hell.
The young woman whose name he invoked as he pulled the trigger issued a statement where she professed that “he really is a nice guy…he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children.” I’ don’t doubt that this murderer was all of those things and more. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he had a darker side that only a select few were privy to. That when he wasn’t being a nice guy or kind and loving that there were warning signs his friends and family missed, or ignored.
As a community, we need to talk openly about mental illness. We need to recognize the signs and not be unwilling to express our concerns about our loved ones. And we need to stop defending bad behavior. A man hits his wife and she blames herself. A boyfriend lashes out verbally, leaving his lover bruised and battered and filled with self-doubt and it’s ignored. A girlfriend throws a punch because she knows she won’t get hit back. And then comes the litany of excuses and justifications to make it all okay when it is anything but alright.
Relationships aren’t easy. They require an investment of time and energy and much hard work. Throw in a partner who is less than loving, mean-spirited, or carrying baggage from infancy and that relationship becomes ten times harder to maintain and less likely to be of benefit to anyone involved. Wrap all that in one person’s psychological impairments and the likelihood of a powder keg exploding increases substantially.
In a video posting, the man who perpetuated today’s crime says he snapped. Apparently, his relationship, his partner, his job, and his family had all contributed to his point of no return, moving him to kill an innocent man minding his own business. His blame list is a mile long. But his apathy was even more telling. His dark side no longer secreted away behind closed doors. Today, the darkness he hid so well from those who loved him most was splayed open for all of us to see. And a man who had nothing at all to do with any of it, lost his life.
My condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Godwin. He was a retired foundry worker who had nine children, fourteen grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. He was much loved and my heart breaks.