In 2009, I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Washington Post – it had to do with a park ranger that “snapped” and killed his wife and two teenage stepchildren.
Here’s my letter to the editor: Words that matter, or not
In the April 3 Metro story “Park Ranger ‘Snapped’ Before Slayings of Family, Court Told,” about a man suspected of killing his wife and two stepchildren, the reporter took what I call the “Snap, Cackle, Pop” approach. In sum, the media report that the “nice guy” snaps because of his wife’s cackling or nagging, and so he pops her with a gun to put himself out of his misery.
This template for reporting on domestic violence must go.
Three to four women, and sometimes their children, die every day under circumstances related to domestic violence. Media accounts that excuse the behavior of the abuser or blame the victim for the crime are unacceptable. Often, there is a pattern of abuse, and it doesn’t involve the wife’s “nagging.” More often, the issues involve control or jealousy by the abuser.
Interviewing those close to the abuser will typically result in kind words because an abuser can provide a normal if not charming exterior. And, if the abuser commits suicide, rarely will you find a source willing to speak ill of the dead. Thus, we hear all these stories of “nice guys” who kill.
Most domestic homicides are not inexplicable. There is often a clear pattern that leads to murder.
The media owe it to the community to provide that information.
Well, two years later, we finally learn the truth (and of all sources it’s Fox News!!) :
Ronquillo Dean also testified that his brother suffered from psychological issues and “he had, you know, some breakdowns” after becoming distraught when his first marriage ended and later learned Dean “didn’t go to work for a year.”
During this time, Dean was working as a ranger.
“They should have been concerned,” Clark said, referring to the Park Authority.
Clark says “Evidently it wasn’t a problem” for Dean to carry a gun “because he was never stopped.”
The family also deposed former Prince William County police officer and family acquaintance, Pete Paradis, who Dean requested come to the house the night of the murder. Paradis said Dean couldn’t get a job early on in his career with Prince William County police because of a “drug incident.”
During the questioning, the family’s attorney also produced a letter from Prince William County Schools to Dean, saying he had been “rejected” for a security job because of “an unsuccessful background investigation.”
Dean’s brother also said he was turned down by Fairfax County Police, but did not know the reason.
“The ex-wife and the story that she told about his having violent dreams and wanting to hurt people and the fact that he could carry a gun and nobody cared? When you add all those things up and the loss of three wonderful people, it makes you angry,” Clark said getting emotional.
Dean told police he and his wife argued and he couldn’t take it, but Elizabeth Dean’s mother calls it all lies, that have tarnished her daughter’s short life.
“It was bad enough that he had killed them, but to make it appear as if he was forced to do it because he was angry?” she said.