May 24th, 2008 09:45 EST
Vero Beach Man Murders His Mom
As an opinion columnist for a newspaper and several Web sites, I read the front pages of several well known newspapers in search of stories with national and international significance. I write about all the hot issues: The Iraq war, abortion, the presidential race, the high price of gas...
But sometimes I read newspapers from small towns, or an editor sends me an article of regional importance, and it strikes a chord with me.
Incidents, like the earthquake in China, that affect millions naturally grab our attention, but sometimes articles buried in the back pages of a newspaper are also very interesting.
Case in point, this account from TCPalm.Com:
"Authorities don`t know yet how a Vero Lake Estates woman died but said she may have been dead as much as four days prior to being found buried in her backyard Thursday.
Kelly James Smith, 37, remains at the Indian River County Jail on a second-degree murder charge and no bail. Investigators said Smith told them he had been in a fight Sunday with his mother, Lynn Rose Schuler, 59, at her home at 7945 96th Court.
According to Smith`s account in an arrest affidavit, the argument was about his lack of a job.
During the argument, Schuler spat in her son`s face, he told investigators. Smith shoved her into a coffee table and Schuler struck her head on the living room wall, according to the affidavit."
It is tempting to dismiss this report as the sad saga of an unemployed 37-year-old loser who still lives with his Mom. Those may be the unfortunate facts of this case, but there are lessons we can learn.
The most obvious lesson is that any argument has the potential to explode into violence, if we don`t carefully parse our words.
Everyday there are thousands of family arguments involving money, or the lack thereof, but few result in a sensational murder. Kelly and his Mom were arguing over his lack of a job, who can`t relate with this scenario?
When a man is unemployed, and living with his mother, he feels worthless. If we are to take Kelly`s word, the violence was ignited when his mother spat at him. Instead of spitting at her son, Lynn should have expressed her frustration in a less hostile manner.
I`m not making any excuses for Kelly -- he is a loser who deserves to spend a long time in prison. Kelly has a long criminal record, at some point he must have been ordered to attend an anger management class. But you don`t need counseling to know that you don`t respond to your Mom spitting at you, by killing her, burying her in her back yard, and then partying for a few days before you report her death to the authorities.
The next time we are in a heated argument with a loved one, we should take a few breaths and carefully consider our words, lest we end up in the newspaper like Kelly. But even if our argument doesn`t end in a tragic death, if we use incendiary and hurtful words it may result in the end of a relationship.