14 Aug Murder of the Blue-Eyed Boy
I was seven years old when I saw my first murder case file.
The victim was also a seven-year-old boy whose throat was cut with a knife by his drunken stepfather. I remember the whole thing, but will focus on what still haunts me.
Growing up I knew my dad was a judge who specialized in criminal law. I also knew he was the one who decided who went to prison—and for how long. I don’t know for sure whether he ever ruled for capital punishment, nor how many murders he tried in his 45-year-long career. I also don’t know why he became a criminal defense lawyer. And what’s really troubling is that he won’t talk about it because of privacy reasons.
And I don’t dare to ask, but I really some need answers.
My middle sister, Sorana, helped me break into our father’s home office (he’d often bring files home to look over before reaching a decision). There’s no jury system in Romanian law, but what I do know is there are three judges, and one of them is the President, who ultimately decides everything. By comparison, American law seems so lenient, and I know very little about the law and legal systems, so I apologize if my perception is inaccurate.
We looked through this case together. I remember another case where an adult woman was murdered. I wasn’t interested. But for the next couple of days I picked up this file and studied every single detail.
There were the police photos showing the building where the murder took place—a communist block of flats in Busteni.
There were some flowers in the window of his bedroom, even though it was winter.
The boy was in an orphanage and came to see his mom for a short vacation. He was left alone while his so-called “parents” went out drinking.
Have I told you how much I hate drinking? How much I hate the idea of alcohol and how little understanding and lack of empathy I have for social drinkers? Well, now you know why!
The little boy with blue eyes and black hair got hungry. There was little food in the house, other than a few crackers. He ate two of them. Then he went to sleep. That was his vacation.
The stepfather (I hate the stigma stepparents carry, and I detest the biological ones who have children and then forget the responsibilities that come with it) came home and was only a “little” drunk. He saw the child sleeping…and the two crackers missing. He became angry, took a kitchen knife and went into his little boy’s bed. He woke up the child, yelled at him for what he did—and then cut his throat. He then went to the next room and drifted off to sleep.
I saw the bed full of blood, the pink and white pillows, the bloody murder weapon, the killer’s face and the beautiful blue-eyed boy at the morgue. I remember the image of deep wounds around his throat. I wondered why they didn’t cover them up with a scarf or something.
It was spring in Romania and I stopped eating altogether for a long time and started wearing a scarf around my neck. I refused to go to school, too. I couldn’t tell my parents—or anyone else—what had happened. I think eventually Sorana confessed and our father never brought any more files home. If he did, I never found them.
My dad sentenced the boy’s stepfather to 20 years in prison. The murder was not first degree or premeditated, according to the law books.
I wanted him tortured to death and the mother killed as well. Where was she to protect the only child she had? She was out drinking. That’s exactly why the child was in an orphanage in the first place.
I still have days when I can’t eat. I still don’t believe that justice has been served. The child never grew up to be my age, and the killer was a lousy coward who managed to commit suicide in prison.
I wanted to talk to my dad or Sorana so badly about this during my last trip to visit my family. Actually, during every trip to Romania. But I don’t dare raise the subject. I’d be all teary-eyed and emotional.
That wouldn’t be appropriate. At least, not in front of a judge. They’re trained to have no emotions and to take no sides. But I wonder, do they feel anything so deeply that it makes them choke? American judges say yes, but they have a jury do all the “dirty work” for them.
This blog isn’t about the amazing human beings who keep the world balanced so we can all live in peace. This short memory is about human dirt, the hopelessly irresponsible people who still have children regardless, and an innocent little boy who died and a little girl who still grieves his death.
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” (Aristotle)