Dad and Son Thanksgiving 2008

The revelation that someone we have known for 31 years, indeed admired, might have killed his wife, is something unbelievable, akin more to science fiction than reality.

In our national narrative, character is destiny, and we tend to believe that the right blend of inner morals and outer achievements will somehow pay off in a life of virtue, happiness and success.

The subject of this essay, who I will not name, possesses all the right stuff and more. He is loyal, brilliant, smart, savvy and funny.

What always amazed me is that he seemed to just have good luck bestowed upon his life. He was raised in a fine town, with good schools, in a Norman Rockwell place. His home was just behind the police station, next to the fire station and the boro hall.

In his youth, he played around with a group of friends and they often produced funny videos. They shot baskets on the hoop at the end of our street. They rode their bikes through the woods, across the lakes and reservoirs and ate pizza in the basement of our house.

He is an only son. And he is close to his mother, a wonderfully articulate and well-spoken woman who writes poems.

In his 38, almost 39 years, he has never been arrested. Never fought. He was not a drug user. I don’t even know if he drank liquor. He liked to work out, but he did it for recreation– not competition.

When he and his parents moved to Florida, he went to school down there on the West Coast of the Sunshine State and I heard it was one of those colleges where the children make up the curriculum: Liberal arts and liberal ideas.

If it were not for the ambitions of others, he might have ended up as a lifeguard on a beach or teaching English in Costa Rica.

After he moved to Los Angeles, he teamed up with a childhood friend, and together they collaborated to build careers producing television. They were well respected as a team not only because they created some hit TV, but because they knew how to work hard and get things done. And they were not ass holes to their staff. As so many in Hollywood are.

I heard he was not happily married. But who really is?   On those occasions when we went to his house for Thanksgiving or other holidays, he was a gracious and kind host. His wife was warm and loving to us.  She was strong, and at least six feet tall, nearly as tall as him.

There must have been times when he, like all of us, just wanted to run away, to get out of those traps and prisons of life: work, family, wife, money.  He had a lot to take care of. And he bought, for some unfathomable reason, a very expensive home in a blandly rich ocean town.  He said he moved away from LA to go somewhere safe to raise his kids. And he was doing what good men do-providing for the welfare of his family.

On many occasions, I saw his goodness and empathy for others.

  • When my father became ill, and had trouble walking, the person of interest took the arm of my dad and helped him to the table.
  • He showed his love to his friends when he helped them move, when he stuck up for them to brutal bosses, when he spoke at weddings and funerals for people I hold dear.
  • He is someone who even the victim’s friends believe is a good person.

This is my armchair psychological analysis of someone who has more good than bad in him, whose life, up to this point, nearing the four decade milestone, has been mostly calm, nearly normal, and not indicating, by any stretch of the imagination, that he might be capable of murder.

But I trust in forensics and evidence, more than intuition and speculation.  And whatever the facts of the case are, those will be the predominant and determining factor in how this man spends the rest of his life on Earth.

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