In my posts about the Maurice Clemmons murder story, I took those of his family members who aided him in evading police to task for their stupid behavior. I may even have spread a report I read that was not true that his aunt was one of those. With this post, I want to correct the record and note two important stories about close relatives who acted humanely and even bravely in their interaction with him.
First, when Clemmons’ aunt, who lives in Leschi a few blocks from my home, received a call from the killer, she actually turned him in to the police:
“He trusted me,” Chrisceda Clemmons said. “He trusted that I wouldn’t turn him in.”
But she did. And she was the only one…
“I was in shock,” Chrisceda Clemmons said. “That’s when we gathered the kids up and sent them away. I believed Maurice when he said he had killed people. I knew he was very angry and frustrated. He was paranoid, and he was very frustrated and sick of the police.”
“Tired of these bitches,” is how he put it. He told her he had shot the officers intentionally, and believed that they were trying to charge him with rape, which would have given him “three strikes” and sent him back to prison for life.
Unfortunately, Seattle police did not catch him if he did actually go to her house, as he told her he planned to do. But she did the right thing. It’s astonishing that with three young children in the home, Clemmons felt no compunction about putting them all in danger.
She said something quite insightful also about Clemmons’ death:
“I was actually relieved,” she said. “That he died was the best thing for him. He would rather die than go back to prison.”
Still, “I felt it was a terrible tragedy that he had to lose his life because of his mental disability,” she said.
And she feels awful about the Lakewood officers. Their families. Their children. “It’s a terrible tragedy for anyone to lose their lives this way, and I’m sorry.”
The police siege turned the woman’s home into a pigsty with every window and furniture broken, and tear gas canisters everywhere, and the pall of smoke still lingering. Undoubtedly, it will costs thousands of dollars for her to repair the damage and return her home to livable standards. And the city will not provide restitution till she completes a review process. Can you imagine losing your home for weeks if not longer because you’re so unlucky as to have a murderous nephew? It seems unfair. I hope the city does right by her as she has done right by the city.
The Seattle Times also profiles Clemmons’ uncle who is an Arkansas corrections officer. This is a decent man, torn up by his cousin’s rampage and deeply sorry to the families of the victims. Though one can never explain, defend or justify such behavior, reading these stories at least allows you to understand to a limited degree where all the paranoia and bitterness came from in his life:
“I think all of this just piled up,” Ray Clemmons said. “The rape charge was going to cost him his wife. He was looking at going to prison again, maybe for life. He got taken to the brink, and he snapped.”
There is a truly bizarre development in this case: apparently one of the city personnel in the ambulance in which Clemmons’ corpse laid, took a photograph of the dead, partially clothed body. I’ve seen the picture and you won’t see it here. I hope whoever took and released this picture on the internet either loses their job or gets severely disciplined. Even a serial killer like this deserves a shred of human dignity. Or would people prefer to drag his body through the streets like they did to the U.S. Marines in Mogadishu? Would that be sufficient vengeance for his horrible crimes?
The saddest thing about people like Clemmons is the horror they inflict upon the people around them. His is the life story of a typical sociopath, that of a loose cannon, a completely irresponsible human being with no conscience, but who simply bounces from one criminal act to the next, blaming his victims, their society, and the nebulous unfairness of life itself for all his failures and problems. What a travesty that psychopaths like Clemmons tend to ruin the lives of everyone they come into contact with; those people are just as much victims as the people the Clemmonses of the world kill or assault outright.
Clemmons left a trail of physical and emotional carnage that he will be responsible for only to God. I do hope there is help for the people whose lives are shattered by this train wreck of a human being, and I also hope Mike Huckabee answers for the part he played in starting the terrible chain of events that ended in Clemmons’ death.