It’s often said that “things come in threes.”

Whether that’s true or not, similar occurrences do sometimes seem to happen in succession in what can easily be perceived as a group. Here in Texas County, we unfortunately appear to be one step away from seeing the “threes” concept fulfilled in 2015 in an extremely undesirable way.

At the beginning of the year, who could possibly have foreseen that two (let alone three) multi-death calamities would take place? But the stunning reality is that so far this year we’ve witnessed a pair of rare tragedies within the county’s borders that have resulted in the loss of 12 lives.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Obviously, the two incidents are starkly different in nature, with one stemming from the manifestation of mankind’s darkest traits and the other shedding light on the fact that reliance on mechanized technology is at best always a gamble.

And the Tyrone murders and the Huggins plane crash have both happened before July. It does make one wonder if a third catastrophe is in the offing. And there’s six months-plus left for it to happen.

In a conversation I had the other day with a prominent lawman I know, we both said how the “threes” scenario had gone through our minds last weekend.

“I sure hope there isn’t a third,” he said. “We really don’t need that.”

“Yeah, two’s two too many,” I said.

Another law enforcement officer I know said early this week that Texas County already has had a “tough year.”

“And we’re not even half way through it,” he said

I sent a link to the online version of the article about the plane crash to a friend of mine who lives in Dallas, and is himself a pilot. He was of course well aware of the Tyrone story, too.

He replied to my email with an interesting statement: “Wow, you have big news for a small town.” I mentioned that to the second law officer and he said, “yeah, and it’s definitely not the kind of news we want.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “We’d just as soon go back to being anonymous.”

Surely, life will go on – Lord willing – and local people will continue with their daily routines. And as always, tragedy won’t be dwelled upon (as it shouldn’t). Instead, amusement and enjoyment will be a big focus and folks will have a good time doing entertaining things like attending this week’s Raymondville Picnic.

But at the same time, it’s apparent (as the early 1900s comedy duo of Oleson and Johnson said) that “anything can happen and probably will” – even in a rural community where one might think otherwise. If there was any doubt about that, the first half of 2015 in Texas County should well have eliminated it.

Here’s to hoping the second half doesn’t help validate that “things come in threes.” At least with regard to incidents that result in multiple fatalities.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

 

 

As surreal as it may seem, a man and his pistol saw to it that little ’ol Tyrone became the focus of the world for a while for all the wrong reasons.

Like or not, me and a couple of my cohorts at your local news source have since had to spend many hours focusing on Joe Aldridge’s stunning actions. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s not the kind of thing anyone around these parts could ever have imagined being on the front-page of the local weekly (much less the home page of NBC.com), and we’ll never be able to put it entirely out of our memory banks.

But we can and will move on (because that’s all we can do) and that will be nice.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

I’ve seen and heard a lot since Joe Aldridge gained permanent infamy last Friday – so much that at it at times has been hard to sort things out and even to simply process the moment. So many layers, so many side notes, so many results, ramifications and effects.

Some of the information and feedback I’ve absorbed during this unforeseen, undesirable trek has consisted of critiques of the way news sources deal these days with violent, fatal events. I’ve heard people express positive and negative viewpoints, and I completely understand both.

One thing I find particularly interesting is the notion that media “fuels the fire” by dedicating significant coverage to the actions of the likes of Joe Aldridge, and that maybe the next Joe Aldridge becomes such out of a twisted yearn for being emboldened on TV screens and newspaper pages. I think there is probably some merit to that concept, but I think the state of violence in today’s world has less to do with lost souls seeking a macabre place in history than it does unavoidable, unstoppable deterioration of mankind’s glass house, as is well documented in the Bible.

People care less and less about the welfare of others and about God’s will, and what’s happening (or more accurately not happening) inside the walls of homes from Maine to California and from South Africa to Sweden prevents young people from growing up with a true understanding of right and wrong.

I do, however, agree with the idea that the American media in general is guilty of following the same path as the rest of society, and there is a lot of shoddy work presented as “good” these days on TV newscasts and on newspaper pages. Surely, some bigger media sources even lean toward an unwritten, unspoken policy of embellishing and sensationalizing.

It’s a shame, but I feel good about the way the Houston Herald dealt with Texas County’s darkest hour, and I submit that what we do is as straight forward and transparent as we can make it, and is never designed to “sell papers” in sacrifice of good journalism.

We dig deep to provide valuable information in news and feature articles, and my opinion-oriented columns come straight from the heart, and when content seems sensational or dramatic, that’s because it’s nature (and it’s reality) steers it that way.

What is, is and there’s no getting around it. With that in mind, we try to present what is to the best of our ability.

With regard to the situation in Tyrone, people badly wanted as much information as they could get about it as quickly as they could get it, so we were only doing our jobs by posting update after update on the Herald website. In case there is any doubt people were hugely interested, consider that this past Monday morning, the main (ever-growing) “Tyrone tragedies” story had been viewed close to 250,000 times (a quarter million!). Also consider that it’s unusual for a story on the site to eclipse the five-figure mark (let alone six), and a No. 1 story for an entire year might have about five to maybe 10 percent as many looks as this online juggernaut has already accumulated.

That’s, well, I’m not sure what that is other than phenomenal.

Anyway, as someone who has lived for extended periods in many corners of the U.S. (California, Washington and Georgia, to be specific), I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than Texas County. While the world is in a permanent downward spiral, at least this place is arriving late for the party and there is still a lot of good here to be immersed in.

The Bible tells us every man has an appointed number of days to live, as determined by God (Job 14:5). All we can do is live each day knowing His will precludes ours (even when it comes to “survival”), and be glad for each and every day and each and every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

So now we pick up and press on, just as the survivors of far greater calamities have always done. Because that’s all there is to do.

Because life goes on – God willing.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

In December 2011, I wrote a column that recapped several incidents of fatal violence that had happened that year in Texas County. In it, I stated that the frequency of crime-related blood-letting was not only already on the increase in rural, largely untainted places like this, but would steadily ratchet up even more as time went by.

I took a little heat because of its rather negative tone and for sharing my belief that the world is on a downward spiral with no way to turn back. The piece was titled, “There will be blood.”

Well, here we are.

For a long time, Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and I have been talking about how it was only a matter of time before something very, very bad happened within his jurisdiction involving a firearm. We were in agreement that, “it’s coming.”

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Well, here we are.

I guess the magnitude – seven murders and a suicide – might be a tad bit larger than we ever envisioned. But that only bolsters the case for the unfortunate direction in which humanity is headed.

I’m not a pessimist. My wife will vouch for that.

But I’m a big-time realist, and I don’t (and can’t) see the world through rose-colored glasses. I clearly recognize what’s actual versus theatrical. And I understand the Biblical concept that there will be rebellion against God and a “falling away” prior to Christ’s return (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

I realize only one man was responsible for what happened last week in Tyrone, but I think Joe Aldridge’s door-to-door killing spree – that is now destined to live forever in infamy – is representative of the path we’re all headed down (willingly or not), and it’s similar to the path everyone was following while they scoffed at Noah just before destruction came upon them.

The Bible says in Matthew 24:12 that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” That’s happening in March 2015 – for real. Many people don’t regard human life as having much value, and their actions prove it.

Problems? Shoot ’em down. Somebody disagrees with you? Behead ’em.

What difference does it make? They’re just people and there’s plenty more where that came from.

It’s inarguable: There’s increased violence everywhere you turn. But never mind ISIS, North Korea and Boko Haram – beware your own neighborhood.

My day began last Friday with the phone ringing well before dawn. It was Houston Herald publisher Brad Gentry, who apologized for waking me up so early. Several hours later, I sent these words by email to several people I know in multiple corners of the U.S.:

Phone rang at about 5.

It was my publisher Brad.

He told me to take my camera to Highway H because there were “8 dead.”

It’s about a mile and a half from our house.

You’ve probably seen some of the photos I took.

Sheriff Sigman and I have been waiting for something like this, although maybe not to this scale.

The world’s not in good shape and it’s not going to get better.

I’m tired.

I’ve since read those words about 87 times and tears have welled up more than once. I didn’t sleep very well Friday or Saturday night because scenarios kept bouncing around in my head (not looking for sympathy – just saying).

Mere hours before a man and his .45 spread death across Tyrone, editor Jeff McNiell and I were talking last Thursday afternoon about the previous week’s murder-for-hire case in Houston. Something I said ended up being highly ironic.

“I guess we have our No. 1 online story for the year,” I said. “What could possibly top that?”

What indeed. Now I wonder what will trump the Tyrone murders – and when it will take place.

Maybe – God willing – this event will be the biggie in our lifetimes on a local level, but I think it would be naïve to rule out that a trumping could take place at any moment.

A couple of sentences from that 2011 column: “We can’t stop what’s coming, and we sure can’t hide from it. There may be some lulls and pauses, but this isn’t going away, it’s a sign of the times.”

Is there any doubt that that’s even truer now than then?

Another snippet from 2011: “Family structure is eroding beyond repair, self-glorification and gratification have become high priorities, and respect for the feelings, possessions, and even lives of others diminishes on a daily basis.”

Again – even truer now than then.

One more flashback from the 2011 piece: “The perpetrators represent a cross-section of Americana; some have been brought up in an environment where generational shortcomings are allowed to proliferate, and the difference between right and wrong is virtually unspoken and almost entirely unrecognizable, but others come from backgrounds that would be considered far more ‘stable’ and ‘safe.’”

These days, it’s almost impossible to know who you’re dealing with. The person who poses a threat isn’t necessarily the guy on TV wearing a black facial sock. It could be an acquaintance, friend, or even relative.

The good news is that none of this comes as a surprise to God. Make no mistake, He’s in complete control and it’s all part of a plan more complex than we can possibly fully comprehend that concludes with all of humanity ultimately submitting to His sovereignty (as says His Word in Romans 14:11).

With that in mind, we had best hold on tight, because the ride gets rougher the rest of the way.

Sigman summed it up perfectly during a press conference witnessed by millions last Friday when he said, “start locking your doors – the world’s changing.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

There are aspects of every small town and rural area in the United States that represent a microcosm of life in general in the entire country. Unfortunately, some of those similarities are of the negative variety.

As God is allowed to become less and less of a guiding influence and His values and morals are increasingly ignored, the hearts of Americans grow colder and colder. Subsequently, family structure is eroding beyond repair, self-glorification and gratification have become high priorities, and respect for the feelings, possessions, and even lives of others diminishes on a daily basis.

Big city, rural country – doesn’t matter. It applies to both.

As much as I wish it were different, I fear that the bus we’re on has headed down a road where the bridge is out, and there may be no turning back. And the evidence is all around – even right here in our little neck of the woods.

During the second half of 2011, more blood has spilled onto the pages of the Houston Herald than would usually happen over a period of years. Violent confrontations are every bit as prevalent in the headlines as construction projects and political promises.

In addition to the bloodshed, it’s hard not to take notice of the increase in theft, assault, and all other types of undesirable behavior. There’s just plain more of it, and this is surely an instance where more isn’t better.

I think it’s possible to pinpoint a moment in time when it all went to the next level locally: The murder in August at the Sinclair gas station in Cabool. Ever since Daniel Chapman gunned down his wife Sandra – allegedly – Texas County and the surrounding area has experienced an almost uninterrupted flow of unusually bad criminal incidents.

We’ve come to know the likes of Darryl Eye, Terry Volner, Marvin Rice, and Gary Welch, all of whom were apparently hell-bent on killing, being killed or generally wreaking major havoc. And beginning last week, we were introduced to Chris Jorgensen and Nathan Jensen, a couple of men who are accused of being involved in the killing of a teenage acquaintance over some sort of disagreement.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

As well as murders and suicides, assaults have been plentiful along the way, and burglaries and break-ins have become all but every day occurrences. And the perpetrators represent a cross-section of Americana; some have been brought up in an environment where generational shortcomings are allowed to proliferate, and the difference between right and wrong is virtually unspoken and almost entirely unrecognizable, but others come from backgrounds that would be considered far more “stable” and “safe.”

While all of theses incidents make it easy to wonder why, there’s nothing surprising here. While it may be difficult to relate to a thought process that deems it OK to solve a problem by killing someone (or trying to), it’s not unfathomable.

To the contrary, this is all just Biblical – because it is written.

I don’t believe for an instant that this is some sort of anomaly. It’s not a passing trend, a momentary blip on the radar, or “just a phase.”

It’s a reflection of the overall state of the increasingly God-less world in which we live. I know I’ll be called cynical for expressing (or even having) that viewpoint, but I’d argue it’s being realistic. And there’s scripture to back that up.

We can’t see inside the hearts and minds of the people at the center of these cases (especially the more horrific ones), but it’s probably a very dark place where Jesus is nowhere to be found.

We who have never pulled a trigger of a pistol pointed at a “loved one” can’t imagine the mental process that would lead to such a thing.

We who haven’t stabbed an acquaintance to death for giving a friend a hard time couldn’t possibly understand the convoluted thought pattern that would rationalize such action.

And we who have never killed a young boy to avenge a misguided jealous rage couldn’t begin to relate to the demonic battle that must be raging inside the perpetrator’s being.

But we can safely assume God is not involved in such battles, patterns, or processes.

I’m definitely in agreement when I hear people say that Texas County is a great place to live and that there are a lot of fine people here. And nothing that has happened on the back end of 2011 will change that.

But the inescapable fact is that we’re living in perilous times and there’s no place in the U.S. that’s immune to that. People are turning toward callousness, and they’re not going back.

Alas, I believe that even realization and acknowledgement won’t prevent what has already been set in motion from continuing. Nope, the wheels are turning, and the brakes are shot.

The good news is, as bad as things may seem here, they’re already far worse in many other places. For every Chris Jorgensen or Darryl Eye we have, big cities like St. Louis have dozens more.

Make no mistake, I love this unique piece of the Ozarks in which we live. We can still fish, hunt and ride horses. We can still grill out, hike and go to the river, and our idea of a traffic jam is four cars in front of us at the exit of the Walmart parking lot.

And most of the people here are hospitable, if not downright friendly.

But we can’t stop what’s coming, and we sure can’t hide from it. There may be some lulls and pauses, but this isn’t going away, it’s a sign of the times.

A woman I know said the other day that if anyone wanted to know the way this story ends, they could read it in the Book of Revelation.

All that’s left is to prepare our hearts for more and dig in, because what is written is true.

The bad exists. The bad will worsen.

And there will be blood.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.