Officer Recalls Looking into the Eyes of Death and Evil

Story of meeting evil.


The room was very dimly lit. As I stepped into the house I could sense the presence of death. That’s a hard thing to get used to. It’s a sixth sense that develops in cops over time. Something’s not right. The hair on the back of your neck stands up and your body tightens. The fight or flight response is just under the surface.

When I first saw the victim I was shocked. I had never seen someone caught in the throes of death like that before. There seemed to be a scream on her face, frozen there for all time. Her eyes looked away, lost. Who had done this to her. Why would anyone do this to another person. What kind of rage or anger could drive a person to such horror, didn’t they realize what they were doing to another human being? Worse yet, what if they did realize what they were doing and did it anyway. That’s a monster in the realist sense of that word.

As I looked around the room I was struck by the simplicity of how otherwise normal the scene was. On any other day I could be walking into this room for a cup of coffee and a friendly conversation with this woman. I could imagine the Christmas tree in the corner of the room during the holidays and the sound of kids running around getting ready for school. It was surreal.

There is something disconnecting to examining a crime scene. The separation from what happened to the victim and the antiseptic approach of documenting the scene; the cops milling around, that one drinking a soda, that one taking notes, another snapping photographs, all the while the victim lays there in the middle of the room like another piece of furniture, silent, unmoving.

As a new investigator being in the center of this situation was a constant challenge to my inner person. I was here doing my job. At home my family was doing what families do at home, completely unaware of what I was part of. The victim and her family were caught up in the most intense and painful event of their lives.

Yet there was a matter of factness to it all. That was the strange part of it. The senior cops, detectives and investigators took the whole thing in stride. I supposed the look on my face gave away my youthful inexperience. “Don’t sweat it, you’ll get used to this kind of thing” was advice I got from almost every veteran there. I remember being horrified at that prospect. If I am going to get used to this what kind of career have I chosen for myself.

As I continued to work the scene the strange feelings didn’t go away, but they did get pushed back a bit. I did my job and moved on. At the end of the day, as I stood in the door way getting ready to leave I took in the scene again. I shook my head and went home. I didn’t mention too much detail, but I told my wife what my day was like, not your routine cop stuff for sure. As I went to sleep that night I thought I had made peace with it. Which made the next day even stranger.

I got to work early, there was a million details to attend to in this type of a case, even for a junior member of the team. The rest of the Unit was heading out for their assignments, interviews and other types of details.

About 10AM I got a call to go to a neighboring police department. They had a guy there that might have some information on the case. I was told to go and check him out. I got to the PD and was introduced to their detective, a dusty old guy with years of experience. We went to an interview room and spoke to this man with the information.

As the conversation got moving, I noticed that the man’s answers were not matching up to the questions. He seemed to want to tell us something different than what we were asking. Over a period of time it became clear to me and the dusty guy that this young man was involved in the case. The more we talked and let him tell his story, the more it became obvious that he wanted us to know what he did and why. He was intense, his story was more intense. The mood of the room changed.

As he spoke I pictured the victim in her own living room. I became completely involved in the action as he related it to us. I began to see my role as the victim’s advocate, the person who would stand up for her against this demon. We challenged this man and the more we did the more enjoyment he seemed to get from his actions. I was outraged at some level that he was proud of what he had done. He spoke of his actions in terms of his “work”. We talked with him for five hours. He explained in his own twisted logic what he had done and why he did it. I pursued him for every detail. I felt a sense of urgency to get it all. To tell the victims story, to speak for her when she could not.

When we were done talking, when all the details were out there on the table, all three of us were exhausted. We had gone on this horrific journey together and I felt I was changed somehow. As I drove home that day I realized the change in me was the result of coming face to face with real evil. I had looked into the eyes of something I had never seen before, and it looked back. I also understood what my career meant. To represent someone who cold not speak for themselves and to stand for them and their family was humbling. I found my place that day. I found my calling and I was grateful.

Let me know what you think.  email me at  jpangaro194@yahoo.com            

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Robert Yates February 12, 2013 at 03:16 PM
@Josh: if you are content deferring to the SC because the SC has ordained themselves as the final arbiters of a law's constitutionality (even though they are pretty bad at protecting rights as history has proven), that's cool. I would just ask you to consider that there are alternative solutions to judicial tyranny. @PH: the little @ sign is a good tool to direct your comment at an individual poster when the string is running in the reply column. Sorry if it annoys you. On the other stuff, feel free to make an argument, but your mere say so adds nothing to the conversation. @HOTB: the part of the constitution that you cited gives the SC the authority to decide certain cases. Nowhere does that clause state that this decision is supreme. Marbury v. Madison established the concept as a matter of law (falsely I believe and many thinkers and states rejected this rationale). See John Calhoun; his writings are very instructive on the concept of nullification.
Robert Yates February 12, 2013 at 03:40 PM
@BM: I am sorry you are offended by my assertion that the bill of rights are God-given. These rights are also provided by the laws of nature and common sense. In either event, they apply to everyone. I don't remember ever suggesting that they do not. @HOTB: you have been very forthright through out this conversation, but the suggestion that NJ allows you to defend yourself is simply not true. NJ does not allow anyone (save the select few who can get a superior court judge to deem that they are in imminent danger of losing life or limb) to carry a loaded firearms outside of their home. You know this is true and this is a violation of the constitution, the laws of nature and the laws of common sense. Again, if you are content deferring to the SC because of their self ordained authority, then okay. But there are other ways. Also, isn't complaining on an internet site a way of rallying people to a cause (perhaps not the most effective one). Certainly there are other ways as well to convince people, but at this point, this is really all I have time for and really I don't even have that. After all I have to work almost an entire half a year to pay the taxes that politicians use to violate my rights and those of others. It is great fun though to have these discussions and I thank all who took the time.
Robert Yates February 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM
@Josh: the suggestion that SC appointees are not political is as naive as it is wrong. Why do you think that the SC always ends up voting in favor of the lunacy that is regularly put before them by congress. Robert's opinion in the recent healthcare decision was one of the most incoherent and rationally absurd rulings that I have ever wasted time reading. You sound like perhaps you might be in law school. Wait until you get to Scalia and Thomas and Renquist's interpretations of the 4th Amendment and executive power. They are serving the people who appointed them and or the popular flavor of the day. Very rare is the judge who is ideologically consistent and even rarer is the judge that has no sold out a million times in order to get appointed.
Josh February 12, 2013 at 04:49 PM
RY, I said that SC nominees are free from political pressure, not that the appointees are not political. Once on the Supreme Court, they never face the electorate and never fear for their job. They are free to rule as they see fit. They need no favors so they need not compromise their beliefs. Your refusal to accept that SC is the final arbiter on the constution baffles me as you fail to explain who is the final arbiter? Who has the last word on whether a law is constitutional or not?
Robert Yates February 12, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I will grant you that there is not suppose to be political pressure, but there is both before the appointments and after. What could possibly explain Robert's ruling on the heath care law otherwise? I have already answered your question on who should have the final say. I am not sure that there should be a single entity that has final say. In the past, certain citizens were content with the state having final say. This has been the main way in which nullification has occurred. But maybe it's the municipality. If they proceed to violate fundamental rights, maybe its the individual. One of the best tools citizens had in earlier day was the concept of jury nullification. A quick example would be this: I am walking my dog at midnight and I am stopped and frisked and the officers finds me carrying a gun. Because this is technically illegal in NJ (even though that law violates my rights) I am arrested and tried. Now, the judge will tell the jury that if they believe that I was carrying a gun, then they must find me guilty because that's the law and these are the facts. Back then, the jury knew that they could determine the facts and the law. If they felt the law violated the person's rights, they voted to exonerate and the court could do nothing about this. This was a great check on overweening government and ridiculous laws that infringe on our rights. This tool is still available to jurors today only it is gravely frowned upon by judges because it lessens their power.


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