A Guy Named Joe
It's about a guy named Joe who called Friday to tell me that he planned to kill two people in Chester. He asked me to call him back if I wanted the details and then said, "Thank you and have a nice day."
It's worth a read. So bizarre was the story, that after I filed it and called my editor, he wasn't sure if it was for real.
To update those who have already read it. I talked to Joe again on Sunday to see how he was doing and to make sure (at least in my own mind) he wasn't actually going to hurt anyone.
When he first called, I debated about calling the police. But after talking to him I got the sense while he might actually be capable of violence, what he really wanted was someone to tell his story to.
He'd already spoken to a minister, who, he said, convinced him to not to do anything violent. After speaking to him myself for an hour or so, my best sense was he had decided not to act on his darker thoughts.
I know that playing amature psychologist is a dicey thing for any writer to do.
Sunday, I heard from a female friend who thought I should immediately call the police and warn Joe's wife about had threatened to do. She was that convinced lives were in danger.
I was glad to report to her that I had been in touch with both Joe and his sister, with whom he is staying and that he seems to be doing fine. No threat to others or himself.
Joe reported he'd gotten to have his son over to his sister's house on Saturday, his son's birthday. He said he bought his kid something like $200 worth of video games. He also said he was in "spiritual counseling." So he felt good.
He also said he'd gotten a lot of positive feedback after Sunday's column (which he called "beautiful"). What to make of that, I'm not sure. But I hope it means that he just wanted to get some strong feelings off his chest and he felt better for doing so.
I don't, however, want to encourage others to call me with threats to do bodily harm to others, thinking it will help them get their stories of vicitimization in the paper.
Many years ago, I had a caller ring me up with a domestic relations problem. After 15 minutes or so of talking to him he told me that the way his wife was treating him made him so made he felt like killing her. As quickly and as forcibly as I could told him that was no way to talk, no solution, no nothing. And he agreed with me.
Then he killed her.
I testified at his murder trial without a moment's hesitation. The prosecutor put me on the stand to make clear to the jury the man had formed the intent to kill his wife quite a while before he did it. This was not a crime committed in the heat of passion. It had been considered sometime before hand.
Anyway, I'm not sure I've handled this right. But so far, I think so. I hope so.
I liked Joe, I liked talking to him, and I hope things work out for him.