The bogeyman goes straight. But he’s still a bogeyman to me.

Two years ago I wrote about the Blackstone Valley sniper on this blog.

In a post entitled Childhood Bogeyman Returns, I wrote:

When I was a kid, my town and the surrounding communities were terrorized by the Blackstone Valley sniper. For a period of about two years, someone was firing a rifle into picture windows at the silhouettes standing behind the curtains. For a while, I remember being forced to leave the lights turned off by my parents in fear that we may present a target for the lunatic.

It turns out the Blackstone Valley sniper was actually two men, who are in the midst of 40 and 45 year sentences for their crimes. There was a total of eleven shootings from 1986-1987, and though no one was killed, four people were wounded in the attacks.

A piece of parental advice:

Parents should tell their kids when bad guys get caught. It may prevent an future evening of terrifying nightmares.

A month after publishing the post, a woman named Elizabeth commented on the post. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the comment at the time so I didn’t reply. I just saw the comment this week, almost two years after she left it.  

Her comment was this:

FYI – Parents should also tell their children that sometimes, people pay for their crimes, and work to do good in the world afterward.

One of your “bogeymen” has made a new life since making parole 5 years ago. He has his own business in the Midwest, is a director on his local chamber of commerce, and an active member of his local Lions Club. Most importantly, he is a loving husband and stepfather. Not much of a bogeyman . . .

My reaction was twofold.

1. The reach of this blog (and the Internet in general) continues to amaze me. There is no telling who is going to read and respond to something I write.

A couple years ago I wrote about one of my favorite professors, Hugh Odgen, who tragically died after falling through the ice on a Maine lake. A year and a half after publishing the post, his son commented, expressing his appreciation for my words.

This is just one of many, many examples.

2. While I’m pleased to hear that rehabilitation can be effective and one of the two men who terrorized me for a good portion of my childhood has reformed his life and is now a productive member of society, it’s a lot of ask of me to think well of him. Let his wife and stepchildren and Lions Club brethren embrace him for the upstanding man that he has become.

I’m not ready to be so forgiving.  

When you force me to crawl under windows in fear of my life and celebrate Christmas without twinkling lights, you’re probably always going to be a monster in my mind.