Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Justice At Last

About a week and a half ago, I had another dream about my friend Mark, who was killed in an attempted robbery last year. He's the guy in the middle in the photo in this post. In this dream, I knew Mark was a ghost-- I touched his shoulder and my hand went right through it. Yet, I was able to talk to him. I was struck by one thing about him in this dream-- he was smiliing.

Yesterday, right before leaving for work, I got a group email from Mark's father telling me and the rest of his longtime friends that the police had finally arrested his killer and charged him. A small group of us had known this guy's identity and the fact that the police had quietly been trying to build a case against him. We had all been sworn to secrecy about it-- I couldn't even mention it on this blog. I had actually given up hope that they'd be able to get him, truthfully. One of the reasons I'd started this blog was trying to deal with the grief and anger I was feeling.

Here is the Chicago Tribune story about the arrest:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/ news/local/ chi-pena_ 18dec18,1, 6897305.story

There is one error in the story. Mark was actually 42 when he was murdered; he'd have been 44 if he were still alive.

Two facts really disturb me. I'd assumed that the killer was young, but just how young he was-- he was only 19 when he "allegedly" killed my friend. The same age Mark was when he and I became friends in 1983. The other is the amount of money. Three dollars. We'd known the amount of money was small, but just how small is pathetic. Mark ran a web design company out of his home; he did not keep stacks of cash around. All of his money was in his home and his business.

Mark had been out that night-- he and some friends had gone to the Sheffield Garden Walk, where the English Beat, a band that was a favorite of ours in college, was performing. If he had had any money that night, he'd have spent it on drinks. Talking to the friends gave us a little solace-- his last night on earth was joyous. The Beat were able to get him, the whitest of white guys, to do something he rarely did-- dance. Knowing that except for his last moments, the night had been filled with music he loved, friends and spirits was good.

Last summer WNPR ran a piece sympathetic to the killer's accomplice, who was a teenager and a Sudanese immigrant. It was infuriating; at the time it was already known that the kid, whose family had been Mark's tenants, was an accomplice in the robbery and murder of my friend. He and his fellow gang members had, in fact, burglarized Mark's apartment while his family still lived in Mark's building.

When I received the email yesterday, after I was finished crying, I began calling people. We talked about how we'd been feeling-- how much anger we'd been carrying that the animal who'd killed Mark had also killed at least one other person and was still roaming the streets. I think that this will help us let go of some of the anger and focus on the grief.

In one of the weird coincidences that happens all the time in my life, Mark's business partner came into the restaurant I work at last night. She had no idea I worked there. I hadn't seen her since right after Mark died. She had already heard the news. We talked about it all, and she said something about how I should be celebrating tonight. Later, as I thought about it, I couldn't find anything to celebrate, really. My friend is still dead. A teenaged immigrant lost his way and is dead now. And the life of a guy whose life had not even really even begun yet is over. He'll spend the rest of his life in prison. No, I didn't feel like celebrating. I just wanted to be home. My shift finished and I went home, had a glass of wine and worked on setting up a Yen family member Christmas gift that had arrived in the mail yesterday. And then I went to bed, and had the best night's sleep I've had in a year and a half.

22 comments:

Bubs said...

I am so glad that this finally happened. It's been incredibly moving to read what you've written about your friend, his death, your loss and all the ways you've dealt with it. I'm glad you slept well.

If it means anything, I'm sure that there were some cops celebrating for you, for your friend, the night Pena got arrested.

Natalie said...

I'm really glad to know that they were able to put the case together and get this guy off the streets.

Your dream and the next night of sleep were proof that things are moving toward a place of peace.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I'm saddened by all the lives wasted in this sorry affair but I'm happy you finally got closure.

SkylersDad said...

I am happy for you JY, and I continue to marvel at how moving your writing and tribute to him has been.

GETkristiLOVE said...

If I put myself in your shoes, I wouldn't feel like celebrating either. It's all just very tragic and the lives lost seems so wasteful.

I do think it's good to focus on the good things that came out of it though and I'm sure you have steered a kid or two into the right direction so they won't live their lives behind bars.

And your heartfelt writing about your friend's murder over a year ago is what got me hooked on your blog... so there's that. ;)

Grant Miller said...

Jeez. That's a hell of a story. At least that last night was good for him.

Hot Lemon said...

"We had all been sworn to secrecy about it-- I couldn't even mention it on this blog."

hee.

wow. WHAT a follow-up... wow.

Distributorcap said...

i hope his capture brings some peace to this awful situation. Mark was lucky to have a friend like you

Dale said...

I'm glad there's been some action on this. Your accounts of your friendship with Mark and how hard it's been to deal with his death have been very powerful.

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