The third murderer in the case of my son, Dion, and his wife, Jennifer, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge yesterday. It appears he will serve only ten years total for the crime of conspiracy to commit arson even though the conspiracy led to arson that resulted in two deaths. This is due mostly to the requirements of the United States justice system and not due so much to incompetence of the people involved in the investigation and trial.
This experience has taught me that a person who is murdered loses value to society immediately. The situation, the scene and the families of the victims become things to avoid. I suppose for the investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and news media, it would be unpleasant to deal with the considerable grief from the loss of a loved one to a heinous crime. Even for those of us in the circle of friends and family, the grief forces you to escape somehow in order to live.
During the trials, every effort was made to avoid “prejudicing” the jury against the defendant by presenting anything that made the victims real people. We were cautioned about showing photos that indicated Dion and Jennifer enjoyed each other or friends and family. Considering how central to the Longworth and Buxton families they were, it was very difficult to find suitable photos.
Dion’s mother has written some things that express not only how she feels, but also how the rest of us feel. I hope that she writes and shares some more. I hope she has something suitable for Monserrate Shirley’s hearing. Her writing sounds better than mine. It may just be because I judge my writing harshly, but I have generally thought hers sounds better.
In this entire scenario, it has been as if the parents, the sisters, the nieces and nephews, other family members, and Dion’s friends have been left standing in an auditorium as everybody else is leaving and we are yelling, “Wait! What about Dion and Jennifer?! What about their babies!? The story is not over!”
I have hoped to somehow put together a story to tell to the media, but I do not know if it matters. I do not know if anybody will care in the end. It is not that the reporters and other people have something wrong with them. It is more that tragedies are rather common and they fade away. Dion and Jennifer are a beautiful story that should have lived on and on to be passed on through their children and grandchildren. Each of our families feel that we lost the best part.
Each of my children is precious and the grandchildren each have a precious place in my life. Thoughts of each of them rotate through my mind all day, every day. They fill most of my dreams at night. Sometimes, as the thoughts rotate Dion andor Jennifer into position, I get stuck there. Dion had his own voice and mannerisms. I miss those. His first smile comes to mind frequently. His gentleness and patience are always there to remind me to watch my own behavior.
My older daughter, Emily, seems to have left her giggle in my mind for all time. She has always been a giggler. Brookley, the younger daughter, is the quietest of the three. There were so many times that Dion and Emily would be entertaining us and I would suddenly notice that Brookley was snuggled up to me or on my lap somehow. I still get to hear Emily giggle quite often since she lives and works nearby. Brookley has her own children who love to snuggle with her. Whenever I visit, I hope that they will use me as a substitute snuggler.
The trials and other actions have become little more than a formality in the background noise of life. For a long time, I thought that if I was given the opportunity, I would kill Mark Leonard. The opportunity arose during the trial in June and July, 2015 in South Bend. I found myself in the courtroom only 15 feet from him. Nobody else was in the room except for two attorneys who were busy on the other side of the room. I obviously did not take advantage of the situation. The only thing that stopped me from killing him was that it would have taken me away from the others that I love and it would have set a bad example. These people all deserve to die.
We have one trial, two Indiana Supreme Court hearings, and three sentencing hearings to go.