I found out that Ariel Castro killed himself this morning on Facebook from a friend’s status, which was very matter-of-fact. The responses on the status were not. They were celebratory. I took a few minutes, got my thoughts together, and responded.
Then I saw three other statuses, also with varying celebratory words. So I crafted my own status:
I don’t care what a person’s crimes are — I just can’t celebrate in his death. When someone commits heinous crimes, my first thought are … That person needed help he did not receive. He was let down by a broken system. I certainly don’t mean to diminish what the victims of Ariel Castro went through in this instance or any other. What he did was beyond deplorable, and he deserved to spend the rest of his life locked up. But I can’t feel any joy or justice that a man who needed help has killed himself.
This is something I feel for all people, good for bad. I remember where I was when it was announced that Saddam Hussein had been executed: a bar in po-dunk Illinois, which erupted in cheers when the news cameras showed people kicking and swarming the body. It made me ill. That was a human. It is one thing to feel relief that a bad person is gone. But to cheer … I can’t fathom it. I can’t understand it. I’m not wired that way. Maybe my heart’s too soft. Maybe I’m OK with that.
My very first thought upon hearing of Castro’s death was no “Hurray” or “Dammit, he took the easy way out,” which appear to be the two common responses, but, “Oh God, how’s his son?” I used to work with him, the son, at my former newspaper, and I’ve been thinking about him all day. Ariel Castro had family. He was a sick man in desperate need of help he never received. It doesn’t matter if he didn’t ask for help or didn’t think he needed it. He was failed by a system that should work to help sick people because, in helping sick people, we not only make them better, but we assure they don’t do anything like kidnap three girls and hold them captive for a decade.
I could wax poetic on and on for the story, but that’s all it boils down to. Besides, Connie Schultz said it better than I ever could.
In the end, I have but two hopes: that his victims find peace and his family finds peace.