A father of two young boys who is described by friends as "devoted and church-going" is accused of doing the most malicious thing imaginable. Allegedly, he killed his two children, ages 11 and 12, in front of their mother -- his estranged wife. It was reportedly in revenge for his wife filing for divorce. And the details of this double murder are brutally horrific ...
The man, Isidro Zavala, allegedly broke into his estranged wife's home in Florida at around 2 a.m. He then began trying to strangle his two children to death with a rope while he wife desperately tried to fight him off. The wife, Victoria, reportedly begged him, "Why don't you kill me instead?" but the husband said no, he wanted her to "live with" what she was seeing. He then pulled out a gun and shot his two children, and then himself.
Police believe the killings were in retaliation for his wife filing for divorce. Friends are astonished, saying that Zavala was the ideal dad -- he was heavily involved with his sons' Little League teams, and always encouraged them to get good grades. Police said the man had no record of violence against his wife, and he had no criminal record.
In fact, this type of thing isn't at all that uncommon. This weekend, another man, across the country in California, killed his two teenage sons -- plus himself AND the family dog. He was also estranged from his wife.
A lot of people blame this type of behavior on undiagnosed mental illness. I sense a dangerous trend in this country towards blaming everything on mental illness and the lack of "help." Certainly some people DO need help. And a discussion on mental illness is much needed. But we can't forget that people need to help themselves too!!
This was a revenge killing and killings with motivators of anger, hate, jealousy, revenge, and greed are the oldest reasons for killing in the book. That isn't called mental illness. It's called human illness. It's called self-entitlement. It's called "My wishes, hopes, and dreams were dashed, so I'm going to dash everyone else's. Even those of people I love. Because what I want matters more than anything."
Anger is a very real issue, and if we're going to talk about mental illness, we should talk about anger as well. Anger leads to murder, to war, to rape, to child abuse, to domestic abuse, to all manner of behavior.
But to deal with anger, you have to first admit that life doesn't always go your way -- in fact, sometimes it downright sucks. But this is natural. It's part of life. And too many people are unwilling to do that. The gun advocates are right about one thing -- it does take people to kill, not just guns. Where they are wrong is that "bad" people are the only ones that kill -- as if there are "bad" people who are born bad and will kill no matter what. This might be the case for a small percentage, but most killings are done by people who were just like you and me -- but who got hit with a certain set of life circumstances, and who let those circumstances fester and harden into anger and revenge.
No one could have seemed less "bad" than Zavala before he did what he did. Most people are not "bad" until they actually commit a crime. And by then it's too late.
What do you think about people's personal responsibility for their behavior?
Image via Alan Cleaver/Flickr