Help searching for an old news story

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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David Loftus
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Help searching for an old news story

Postby David Loftus » Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:50 pm

Hey, Webderlanders:

I'm reading a novel that clearly takes off from a horrendous crime that occurred 10 or 15 years ago, and it makes me want to hunt down the original story and see how it played out.

It was in England, and it involved the disappearance of a toddler. Turned out a couple of children not too much older than he led him away from a shopping area and (I think?) killed him themselves. What made it especially horrifying is that some video footage from a security camera happened to capture the small kids leading the little one off by the hand to his fate. It circulated on the news for a good week after -- I saw it myself.

Does anybody remember this story? Can you help me track it down? I'm just curious to find out how it ended, as well as to compare that to what this writer did with it.
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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby diane bartels » Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:20 am

Hi, David. I remember the story well. I have an aunt and uncle who are English so am extra interested in stories from there. You have the facts right, the older children led the younger away and killed him. In cold blood, with premeditation. I did read a followup, the children pled guilty and were incarcerated. That's all I remember, but it must have been the Chicago papers where I read it, as I wasn't on line then. I will see if I can find the story for you.

Diane

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby diane bartels » Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:04 am

Hi, David, I found it onn a site called BBC World Service. Date of 11-09-2000. The crime happened in Feb 1993 in Merseyside England. The victim's name was James Bulger, he was not quite three.
The boys who did it were Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. They were ten. This crime haunted and depressed me for weeks at the time. Wikipedia has an article under the victim's name. I was going to ask you for the name of the novel. But I think I'll pass on it. Diane

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Steve Evil
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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:55 am

I think it was Venebles had finished his sentence and was living under an assumed name somewhere. But he was rearrested for something else and is back in prison now (it wasn't another murder, I'm not sure what it was but it was bad enough to get him back in jail. It makes me wonder if it was a parole violation).

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FinderDoug
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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby FinderDoug » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:08 am

Direct link to the wiki page about the murder referenced by Diane: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Bulger

Wiki is wiki (WiW), but the references are deep.

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby FrankChurch » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:27 am

I think the kids wanted to see what it was like to kill. Depresses me and makes me wonder. This is a rare thing in England, beyond scum like the Moor's murderer.

I remember the video: they took his hand, led him away like they were taking him to the park. Chills my blood.

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby markabaddon » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:53 am

This was not a story I am familiar with but I followed Doug's link to the Wiki article

That might have be one of the most evil and horrific things I have ever read.
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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby Moderator » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:28 am

markabaddon wrote:That might have be one of the most evil and horrific things I have ever read.


No question. Those of you with children must really have your hearts torn out by such stories.

(I cannot fathom his mother's emotions, both initially and as the horror unfolded.)
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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby David Loftus » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:29 am

Thanks for the assistance, guys. I needed this, because I intend to review this new novel for the California Literary Review.

I'm a little over halfway through the book, and FYI, Diane, so far the Bulger/Venable-inspired storyline is only a small part of the package -- a totally different murder occupies 90 percent of the narrative and the characters, and the connection has not been made clear so far -- but the reminder of the true event made me wonder how it had played out.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby markabaddon » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:41 am

When I read about this story, I kept thinking about the question of evil. More specifically, are there people who are born "bad" so to speak, or is evil a learned behavior

When I was younger, I was skeptical about the existence of evil being something that had a tangible property to it, like being born with blue eyes or blond hair. As I grew older, my opinion changed and this story merely reinforced the notion that there are some poeple one will encounter who, to paraphrase the line from The Dark Knight "want to see everything burn down".

While no one can be sure what the mothers of these monsters in child form were thinking, it probably was something along the lines of "dear god, what have I given birth to?"
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:28 pm

Gang

Not trying to stick up for the two killers, but if I remember the story correctly the two perps were only 11 at the time of the killing.

Now, how can you atribute adult thought to kids that age. I think that while what they did was wrong it wasn't evil. To me that word means that you fully know the outcomes of your actions. An 11 year old's brain dosen't work that way and never will.

I hope that those two got the therapy they needed, and that they are doing well. I don't wanna look at the wiki to find out.

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby markabaddon » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:40 pm

While it appears there is no definitive word on what sent one of the killers back to jail, several places reported it was possession of child pornography.

As a general rule, I agree with you, Lori, that an 11 year old would not have the cognitive ability to distinguish between the outcomes of your actions. However, in reading what those two walking piles of pestilence did to a 2 year old boy, one cannot come to any other conclusion than that they knew what they were doing

I am unsure what would be the proper punishment for these two murderers, but I feel strongly they should never be allowed into society for the remainder of their lives. What they did was not an accident, they tortured that little boy in a manner that would make Gacy or Gilles de Rais proud.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:14 pm

Lori Koonce wrote:
Now, how can you atribute adult thought to kids that age. I think that while what they did was wrong it wasn't evil. To me that word means that you fully know the outcomes of your actions. An 11 year old's brain dosen't work that way and never will.
.


I work with ten year olds, and I have to disagree: they know what they're doing. They are not always aware of the gravity of their actions, they cannot control their emotions, they are not always sure what to think or what to do: they are young and they are learning after all. But they are self aware, they can tell reality from fantasy, and they are capable of basic moral decisions.

This was not a case of shoplifting, bullying, taunts or fighting. These two kidnapped a two year old boy. They lead him out of a shopping mall to a railroad track, beat him to a pulp with iron bars, dragged him to the track, waited for the train to come, and watched it cut him in two. They also painted his face blue for reasons known only to them.

This was not a mistake, not an accident, not a misunderstanding not a spontaneous outbreak of violence. It was a premeditated act of brutality. It cannot be chalked up to immaturity.

And while one can hardly imagine prison to be a healthy environment in which to go through puberty, the fact that Venebles was re-captured for child porn shows that to this day there's something not entirely right going on in his head.

From the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/2 ... ornography

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:33 pm

Does this mean you guys support trying some kids as adults? I really don't agree with that.

These kids were obviously mentally damaged, but can they be saved? Sure. Will they? Let's hope, but these pukes better be mewing like kittens before anybody even gives them a chance at breathing even cruddy air.

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Re: Help searching for an old news story

Postby Steve Evil » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:15 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Does this mean you guys support trying some kids as adults? I really don't agree with that.


Well I don't remember saying that, or reading anyone else saying that, and I'm disapointed to find my words interpreted in such a superficial manner, but the short answer is no, I don't support trying children as adults. Not even those children. What I was saying was that children are most definitely capable of evil. I would favour the Swedish approach, where I udnerstand children are not put on trial at all, but examined by child-psychologists, whose recomendations deturmine the response to the crime.


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