In the small Colorado town of Burlington, a "sweet" 12-year-old boy is in custody after he allegedly killed his parents -- Charles Long, 50, and Marilyn Long, 51. He also seriously injured his younger siblings, Ethan, 9, and Sara, 5, who are currently hospitalized. His name is being withheld because he's a minor.
Why? How? There are so many questions as police try to piece together what happened in this horrifying event. The family is described as deeply religious and active in their church, which is located just a block from their house. They had seven children in all and home-schooled them.
According to the Denver Post, those who knew the boy saw nothing unusual about him. The family's pastor, Ron Lee, told the paper:
He's the sweetest kid. He is very helpful; he's got a very pleasant personality.
Can a family really be that good at hiding problems? Can a boy be that deceptive? Or was it something that no one could have seen coming?
A neighbor said he saw three of the children outside playing yesterday evening around 5:30 laughing, smiling, and appearing completely normal. At 6:40 p.m. police got a call from the 12-year-old that three people had been shot. Lee said a knife was also used in the attacks.
When stories about kids going bad -- really bad -- come out, I always watch and wait for the "signs" -- the things people saw that shouldn't have been overlooked, the clues people in retrospect see but no one did anything about.
Those signs don't make the results any less awful or the deaths any easier, but they do at least offer some understanding and perhaps some assurance that it couldn't happen to us or to those we know. But in this case, at this point, none have been uncovered.
Perhaps as more digging is done, they will be. While we can look at similar past cases and speculate as to what might have happened, perhaps the most horrifying scenario is one in which no warning signs and no motives are unturned -- that one day a perfectly sweet, helpful kid could just snap and kill his family like this. I doubt that's the case.
It's a painful reminder once again that appearances are often deceptive, and that no one knows what's going on behind closed doors -- perhaps not even those behind them.
Image via Heather Heather Heather/Flickr