I have wanted to write about this subject for a long time, but hesitated. What else could I say when the crime victim's mother already says it so well? But still, the case is on my mind and heart.
A little over a year ago I saw some tweets among some local people about the teenage son of local (and well-known, I soon found out) blogger Katie Granju being in the hospital after an assault. The ups and downs were circulated, and the community was in support of this family. Even though I still wasn't familiar with the blogger or what happened, I was sad to read the son had died. The pain, as any parent can imagine, must have been unbearable.
But then I started reading her blog, and understanding what happened. The strength this mother has shown, and the battles she has had to fight - I have no words. You can read the story in great detail and research at Justice for Henry. Go back to the beginning of the blog and start there. Also read her other blog, Mamapundit. For now, though, a summary.
Henry was a teenage boy who struggled with drug addiction. He was not happy as a drug addict,and was trying to get clean. He fell victim to a pair of older adults who preyed on vulnerable teenagers, who gave him a fatal dose of methadone. Sometime soon after, Henry was badly beaten, then picked up by the couple and taken to their home, where he suffered an overdose on top of his other injuries. The couple refused to call 911 for hours, and only finally did so under the threat of police involvement toward themselves by a friend of Henry's. There is piles of evidence, text messages, and witness statements describing exactly what happened to Henry, what kind of people these two are, their actions, and their responsibility for Henry's death. But Knox County is refusing to pursue the case. The whole lack of concern by the sheriff's department and the local DA's office is infuriating, while staff members publish memos saying Katie should leave them alone and worry about her surviving children
Katie has had to investigate her own son's death on her own, and be treated like someone only wanting to stir up trouble, by the very agencies who are supposed to be investigating and prosecuting crime. I'm not sure I could even get out of bed in her shoes, much less conduct the interviews she has, and have the fights she has fought with everyone from the sheriff's office, the DA's office, medical examiner's office, and the 911 center. And the lack of interest by the local media is disheartening. Are all the stations and the newspaper really so afraid of small-town politics that they ignore what is being laid out in front of them? The national media is seeing the injustice - there is a list on the Justice for Henry site of media coverage.
This is not just one family's fight, though. This could happen to ANY parent. Knox County is showing a clear disinterest in pursuing legal action against crime victims if they happen to be addicts. The attitude is "he/she deserved it." And sadly, drug use in teenagers is not uncommon. Every parent thinks "It won't happen to my child" but not every parent is correct. And combine drug use with a teenager's developing brain and developing judgment and dangerous things happen in an instant. One small argument can turn deadly, kids can too-quickly find themselves in a situation they can't get out of. Like Henry, they may be preyed upon by an older couple running a sex-for-drugs trafficking ring. In truth, we never know.
It is my hope and prayer that Henry's family will see justice for his death. I truly hope his mother will see a reward for all her difficult, painful research into the circumstances surrounding her son's death. It is also my prayer no other mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings have to suffer like Henry's family has for the past year. Knox County Sheriff's Office and the DA's office need to step up and do their jobs.