Grapevine police have been keeping information under wraps since this story first hit the news on Christmas Day. As details begin to surface from interviews with neighbors and friends of the deceased, a picture is emerging of a normal and friendly family, recently split by marital conflict, that ends in a desperate massacre of an entire family.
This area of Grapevine is south of highway 114, and it borders the town of Colleyville. The neighborhood from which the wife and children recently moved is about two miles from the Lincoln Vineyard apartments where the murders took place.
It is a quiet part of town, and one in which families are tied together through community and school activities. Children play together without threat of violence or street crime, and there is rarely a sign of a crisis of such violence.
Security problems in suburban communities are too often assumed to be the bane of urbanity. Suburban families and neighborhoods are lulled to sleep by a picture of what “normal” is supposed to be.
Tragedies such as the one this weekend in Grapevine are always surprising to those who are closest to it. It doesn’t matter if it happens inside the confines of the inner city or if it is a quiet suburban community.
Ultimately, electronic security systems, 911, and all the precautions people take to “feel” secure does not protect them against conflicts that are deeply psychological when there are no cries for help to be heard. Instead, “normal” is used as a mask to hide the shame of bitter conflict and to protect others from the exposure of dirty laundry.
Having known a family very well, a suburban household, who suffered the same tragedy in which all members of the family were killed because the shame of financial difficulties made life unbearable for them, I know there were signs that I missed that would have told me things were not well. The picture of that family’s daughter has been on our refrigerator door since she and my daughter were friends at a very young age over 20 years ago.
Reminders of things the mother had said over the years, the rare incidents of open and vicious conflict that spewed out at times, cloaked in humor, and the lack of constructive dialogue during times of difficulty, were all signs of ill emotional health. In the end, however, there was no way of knowing until the story hit the news several years ago that the mother had killed her husband and 20 year-old daughter, still living at home, before turning the gun on herself.
Security ultimately depends on observation, communication, and active participation in the lives of trusted friends and family members who will not withdraw when times are tough.
The Grapevine tragedy of Christmas day is a reminder that crimes of this nature are committed almost every day in America, and they know no geographical limitations. They are neither a product of the inner city, nor are they respectful of our “normal.”
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