Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Justice for Tim Bosma

Not unlike the majority of southern Ontario, my mind this morning is once again on the Tim Bosma case.  If you're not yet familiar with who Tim is, a quick google search will give you all the information you need.

Ever since he was reported missing, I haven't been able to stop thinking about him, his wife, their situation and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.  It almost felt like an obsession but then it dawned on me why it's so riveting.  Not because of the scandalous aspects of the story, and not because of the controversy, and not because of the tons of wild speculation but simply because, the Bosma family is in many ways just like the Rolfe family.  I have no doubt that others who have been following this are thinking the same thing "that could have been our family".

Tim and Sharlene Bosma, with their baby girl
We did not know Tim Bosma or his family but they don't live that far from us.  From all I have read about who Tim was, he sounds a lot like my own husband.  He liked to joke around, tell stories, start water fights and adored his 2 year old daughter and their dog Ava.  He also loved the Lord and was a good provider for his family.  When I first read this about Tim, I thought "this sounds exactly like Kevin".  Not only does Tim sound familiar, but so do the circumstances of the Bosma's life.  They live out in the country, just like we do, and they sell things on kijiji, just like we do (I had placed an ad for firewood for sale, the very same day Tim offered to go with his would-be kidnappers to take a test drive of the truck he had for sale via kijiji).  Essentially, the Bosma family was a local, loving, Christian family who minded their own business, went to work, payed the bills and probably shopped at the same places we do.  Probably a lot like your family, and so many other ordinary, regular folks you meet and see every day.

Yesterday when the Hamilton Police service announced they had found Tim, deceased, I cried.  We had just left town after running some errands and seeing his MISSING poster in the bank lobby and on every telephone pole, and we were listening to the press conference on the car radio after they'd announced earlier there was a "significant development" in the case.  We were hoping for fantastic news, but we kind of suspected it was going to be the opposite.  An hour later, after our 14 yr old heard the rumor at school, she texted me to see if it was true.  Sadly I had to confirm for her that yes, it was true.  She didn't answer my text, but when all the kids came home yesterday from school they all mentioned it, and all had the same questions: "why??" and "who would do something so evil??"

Those are not easy questions to answer, as we all know there are many, many factors involved in such wickedness.  Primarily it's sin, and giving into it, but there are so many other things involved as well and in this case it could be one or more or complex layers of things.  It could be drugs, money, organized crime, or a crime of opportunity.  It *could* be any or none of those things.  The public doesn't know yet, as the investigation is ongoing and the only person they have in custody (Dellen Millard, who will be charged today with first degree murder) is apparently not talking, and is reported to plan to plead not guilty before the courts. How he can plead not guilty when Tim's truck was located at Millard's mother's house, in Millard's trailer, and it's being reported that Tim's remains were located at a farm not far from here owned by Millard is quite the mystery.  No doubt, more questions arise based on those details alone, and no doubt, investigators will soon provide answers.

This is the part of the story that takes a very modern twist.  As all of southern Ontario is speculating on the who, when, why, and where, many of them are doing it online via social media.  Hate-filled tweets on twitter (and in other places to be sure) are going up at record speed, directed toward Dellen Millard.  Completely understandable.  The sense of loathing we as a society feel toward those who hurt the innocent, is not unlike a mama-bear protecting her own.  Especially so, when the victim was a genuinely well-liked, "good guy".  More tweets are asking all the same questions we've privately discussed here in our game room.  Who else was involved? Why Tim? Did Dellen really do this, or was he someone's patsy? By all accounts from those who know the accused, he's a rather unassuming guy, no previous criminal record,  etc.  So the speculation online has been all over the map.  Then again, isn't it quite common when someone's been arrested and charged with a horrific, unthinkable crime, for those who knew the person to say "he was such a nice guy, I'm shocked".   We read it all the time.  Those who knew Dahmer, Ridgeway, Bundy, Gacy... many of them said the exact same thing, but we all know now, they were very good at concealing their evil from even those closest to them.  It is possible to be a genuine monster, and no one but your victims ever see it. Just ask Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry.

Because this case hits so close to home (just as it did when Tori Stafford went missing) I've been following it closely on twitter especially and have quickly come to realize that solving crime in our modern age has taken on a whole new aspect, and at lightning speed.  Due directly to the massive amount of people using social media, word of a missing person spreads like wildfire.  People care, and people who are complete strangers will stop what they're doing and help in whatever way they can.  Even the Hamilton Police services have repeatedly thanked the public and their quick involvement in social media outlets helping to spread the word, provide tips, and assist with the investigation that way.  I don't know if it's been confirmed yet but I have read in several places that it was directly due to a tip someone posted (and called in) online that led police to the arrest of Dellen Millard.  As soon as it was released to the public that the suspect has a particular tattoo on his wrist, tweets went out like crazy, and then someone recognized who that was.  This is where social media seriously rocks.  To be used in such a tremendously helpful way, is nothing short of amazing.

Where it can turn very dark, very quickly, is in all the wild, blood-thirsty speculation.  In a case like this, we all want justice and we all want it RIGHT NOW.  That zeal for justice can quickly over-shadow common sense and before you know it, all kinds of things (many inaccurate) are being plastered all over the internet.  People began to dig, and dig quickly in to any and all associates of Dellen Millard and suddenly several of the people associated with him via twitter and FB were being accused of being suspects.  People were finding personal, private things about these individuals and posting them over and over.  Being shared hundreds of times on FB and re-tweeted hundreds of times on twitter, and at least some of the accusations have already been ruled out by police and proven to be inaccurate.  Unfortunately, its too late to pull those messages back in.  I did see many people pleading for restraint, asking folks to verify before posting, and that sort of thing but once this kind of lynch-mod mentality starts, it rarely dies out quickly.  Again, the emotion of this kind of brutal case makes it completely understandable, even though it's wrong, and unfair toward those being accused.

In all the helpful ways social media has assisted police, I have no doubt they also now have a massive mountain of mis-information to sort through as well, also as a direct result of social media.  I do not envy the work of the detectives on this case, and my hat is off to them for the difficult, heartbreaking work they do to leave no stone unturned and bring justice to the Bosma family.  Tim is now home with the Lord, and sadly they can't bring him back, but they will do all they can to bring his killers to justice.  I have no question about that.

My heart is with Sharlene Bosma today.  I can't even imagine how she's processing this horrifying news, but from what I do know she has a lot of support from her family, church family, friends, and thousands and thousands of complete strangers just like me, praying for her.  We can't answer the question as to why this happened other than to say there is genuine evil in this world and often the innocent suffer because of it, but we can lift our prayers for the entire Bosma family that the Lord be merciful and bring them great comfort in this time of heartache and loss.

That, and at least earthly justice, for the unthinkable wrong done to Tim Bosma and his entire family.