SO WORCESTER, IT HURTS… #10 by Steve Siddle
August 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
So Worcester, It Hurts. #10
by Steve Siddle
It could have been me. It could have been Chris. Sometimes we like to argue about who would have best fought back if it had been one of us who opened our apartment door to the murderer.
Somewhere back in “the aughts” a buddy of mine and I were living in a one bedroom apartment on Lancaster St. Don’t get it twisted, I claimed the bedroom, Chris slept on a pull out couch in the living room. Nesta, the flatulent Boston terrier, slept wherever he wanted.
Friends of ours who reminisce about that apartment most often shudder and laugh about the horrific state of our bathroom. Almost as repulsive were the twenty yellow bags of trash piled up on our porch. It was the kind of home in which we always had to wear shoes because of the broken glass on the kitchen floor.
However fearsome our lifestyle at the time might have appeared to outsiders, nothing could compare to horrific scene that went down in that apartment after Chris and I moved out.
On the morning of October 6, 2008 25-year-old Benjamin L. Makinen walked out the door of his step-mothers home -where he had been staying ever since he had outgrown the residential facility where he had been living in Marlboro- and took a cab to the Genesis Club on Lincoln St.
Genesis Club, Inc. is a highly reputable social service day program. With hours beginning each day at 8am, the clubhouse is dedicated to assisting hundreds of individuals each year; “with a mental illness to obtain employment, housing, wellness, and friendships.” Mr. Makinen would later explain to detectives that he left home early that morning looking for a job. Regrettably for all involved, before the clubhouse’s opening hours.
Upon finding the doors of the Club closed, Makinen decided to go to the Worcester Art Museum which was also closed. From the Museum, he then walked Lancaster St. to my old apartment. It remains unclear why exactly he choose to try the door at 10 Lancaster St., perhaps he tried to open others doors first, but I was not at all surprised to learn that the front door of our old apartment was unlocked. The lock had been broken when we lived there and the cheap-ass landlord must never have fixed it.
After finding nobody home at the first floor apartment, Makinen walked up the stairs to 10 B. “I wanted to kill someone.” He would later tell police. He was armed with a knife and determined to get the job done.
For now, we will put aside the most obvious and most pressing question concerning exactly where and how this mentally disturbed young man pertained a knife and why he was allowed to carry it around with him. (None of the articles I read in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette bothered to investigate where the murder weapon was acquired.)Instead we will only focus on the known facts.
Known: Shelleigh Wilcox, age 47, was sitting on the couch when Makinen rushed in through the unlocked door. Makinen told Police that he smashed the woman on the head with a vase then punched and kicked her. He stabbed her several times before taking a break to go into her (our) kitchen, open her (our) refrigerator door and take out some ginger ale. After drinking some soda, he went back into her (our) living room and “finished the job.”
Police reports say that Ms. Wilcox suffered from multiple slash wounds (what appear to be defensive wounds) to her face, neck area, her head and right thigh. She was stabbed over one hundred times. Mr. Makinen then called the police to report a homicide.
There are two articles in the 8/25/11 edition of the Worcester T&G about the ongoing trial of the murder. One of the articles is a garbled and confusing account of contrasting police interview tapes and Doctor’s testimony. The other article is a flaccid appeal to readers in support of the Insanity Defense. Both articles raise good questions but both fail to supply any answers.
Granted, these are difficult issues to address, and I’m not about to tackle them. Quite obviously our Judicial System needs clearly defined laws regarding how best to deal with deranged criminals, and we need to be able to trust that the Medical and Psychological Professionals whose job it is to diagnose violent offenders are looking out for the best interest not only of the defendant, but also of the public.
I am still unsure after reading these articles what, exactly, Mr. Makinen’s final diagnose was. (I must say that I bristled at columnist Diane Willamson’s description of the murderer as “an Autistic young man with time to kill.” I have family and friends who have special needs and I know that 99.9% of people with Autism are loving, peaceful humans. Whatever Makinen’s various problems were, I doubt that Autism drove him to kill.)
But regardless of the particulars of this unique and horrifying case the fact remains that Worcester needs to address our large population of mentally ill people. Anyone who has grown up here knows damn well that Worcester is lousy with crazy people.
Check out the Facebook group “You Know You’re from Worcester If…” and see how many people write about the “Whistler” and the “Bird Lady and “Goyter Guy”. Mentally disturbed men and women are part of our City’s landscape. I know one local business owner who used to describe Worcester as “One Big Social Service.”
The brutal murder of Shelleigh Wilcox raises the question that has long been on the minds of true Worcesterites. “Where the hell have all of the Crazies come from? And are they dangerous?”
An even scarier thought -even though we all know better- most of can’t help but wonder when we see so many lunatics in our neighborhood is; “Is crazy contagious?” Spend an afternoon downtown and you might start to wonder too.
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