Last Friday, a terrible, unthinkable tragedy occurred less than an hour from my home. It happened to someone that some of my family knew and respected. At 4:45, as she was leaving the office to go home to her husband and two children, Lara Sobel was brutally murdered with a high caliber hunting rifle by Jody Herring, a woman who was upset over losing custody of her child. Lara worked for the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF), and paid the ultimate price for her work in ensuring that small children are not left in the care of potentially homicidal maniacs. The story is heartbreaking, and it makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it, much less write about it. It is a story I would rather avoid, and yet I find myself compelled to respond.
There are plenty of other troubling details that are popping up, not the least of which is the fact that Jody Herring reportedly made a threatening phone call Friday morning to three other family members, warning them to stop calling DCF on her, and Saturday morning those family members were also found dead at their home. The police are not officially saying anything about a possible link at this point, but it does seem concerning.
But that wasn’t the thing that dropped my stomach to the floor and made me want to quit the human race. Yeah, it was bad. It was, in my mind, unequivocal evil, made manifest in this world by yet another mass shooting in this country, with special thanks to the gun lobby and general disdain for the poor and mentally ill. But the most troubling thing for me, was that when I clicked “search,” in an effort to find more details about the case, I found the headline posted with stuff like this:
“You Take My Kids, You Get What You Deserve.”
“Share if You Would Do the Same #mamabear”
“something something, DCF Steals Children something something Murder something #haha”
I could not believe it! People, mostly Mom Bloggers (#notallmombloggers), were posting support for this horrible crime! Someone started a legal defense fund for the murderer online and it has started receiving donations, with messages of support, expressing their belief that, apparently, it is completely fine to murder someone! How can this be?! How can I live in a society in which a large number of people think shooting someone in the face with a hunting rifle for doing thier job is okay? Some days it’s just embarrassing to be human.
“But Tenor Dad!” you say, “What if your children were threatened, or taken away from you by an evil, corrupt government, hell-bent on destroying people’s lives?! Wouldn’t you shoot them to death?” And to this I respond, that’s not actually what happened, but no, I would not. If my child’s life were in specific danger, I would probably attack someone to specifically prevent that immediate danger, but I would not kill them. At least not on purpose. And also, I know DCF. I have dealt with DCF, and custody cases with them, and I know that they are not evil.
The people who get their children taken away are not in a position to be taking care of those children. They have drug problems. They have mental problems. They have neglect problems. They have mass-murder problems, apparently. It doesn’t mean that they are not good people, or that they can’t, at some point, take care of their kids. But right then, they can’t. The biggest problem DCF has is the lack of good homes and families in which to place these kids. They need loving, stable homes to raise these kids, and often they don’t have any volunteers, so the kids go to crowded foster homes, or questionable individuals. And that is a problem. That is a problem that you could help with, if you wanted to. This might be a good time to investigate that possibility. But if you think that being a parent gives you the right to murder people, I’m sorry, but children should not be living with you. Not right now.