Why exactly have the deaths of Kimberly Vaughn and her three murdered children so intrigued us these past dozen days? Because we’re ghouls? I don’t think so. First, it was a classic locked room who-done-it mystery — four bodies in an SUV at the side of the road and the sole survivor, husband Chris Vaughn, claiming to be a dazed survivor who didn’t even remember hearing the shots.From the start, the idea that the wife committed this crime struck me as outside the realm of human experience. All those mothers who kill their kids invariably have long histories of mental illness or disapproving boyfriends. Kimberly Vaughn seemed to have neither.
“Even Medea didn’t kill her kids in front of her husband,” I told my wife.
But apart from the Agatha Christie aspect, this is one of those cases that gives you the creeps. Most parents live and breathe for their kids — they go to work day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, to earn money for the roofs over their children’s heads and the food in their bellies and, just maybe, if they scrimp, college. The idea of turning around in a car and shooting your children, one by one, from a foot away, two bullets apiece, is mind-boggling horror.
And for what? That’s the dangling shoe we’re waiting to hear drop. What will it be? Another woman stashed somewhere? Drugs? Some insurance scheme?
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. A man is innocent until proven guilty, and with Christopher Vaughn possibly facing the death penalty, the job of the media is to drum our fingers and wait. This story gets under your skin and stays there, because so far there is no satisfactory explanation. Vaughn is behind bars because the story he told police was not convincing. You didn’t hear it and think “That poor man!” You heard it and wondered what really happened. Maybe now we’re closer to finding out.
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