Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Murder and More in a Town Where It Doesn't Happen

On The Serious Side

This doesn't happen in our community. People aren't murdered in their own homes in East Brunswick, New Jersey. So imagine my shock when I picked up this morning's copy of The Home News Tribune from my very wet drive way and read the headline.COPS:WOMAN WAS MURDERED.

Ellen Elfstrom, 84, a reclusive woman who lived on Lee Street, was found dead in her home at 6:47 PM on Friday by local police. Yesterday the findings of an autopsy found that Ms. Elfstrom died of "blunt-force trauma". No details were released as to the location of the blows that killed her. Her death was ruled a homicide. As of now there have been no arrests made, nor have the authorities spoken of any suspects in the case.

On page three of the HNT under the POLICE BLOTTER was the story of a 77 year old man who was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of the BRUNSWICK SQUARE MALL, and then was carjacked last night. The mall is located across State Highway 18 from the scene of Friday night's murder of Ms. Elfstrom.

This is a town that is on the fringes of the New York Metropolitan area. We still have open spaces, and farms, but we also have are share of semi-urban sprawl and horrific traffic jams. And we are seeing more incidents of crime usually associated with larger urban areas.

Two months ago in a nearby park, one that I walk to everyday weather permitting, two groups of teenagers met to settle a score. One of the kids brought a handgun. He fired at the direction of the other kids, missing him but hitting a car parked in front of a house across the street.

And last month local police sent out recorded messages involving scam artists who would pose as contractors and enter the homes of unsuspecting victims, and either burglarize or set them get them to give a down payment on "home improvements" that parted the victim with their hard earned cash.

Its no coincidence that when the economy goes south, the crime rate increases. It was true during the Great Depression of the late 1920's, early 1930's, and during subsequent recessions. People look for easy marks- the elderly are most prone to crimes of opportunity.

The rabid supporters of the Second Amendment will say that maybe the crimes that I have mentioned would not have occurred had the victims been in possession of a firearm.

But what does that say about our society when the solution offered is to arm elderly recluses and shoppers, and give guns to kids to prevent them from being shot by other kids?

I'm just a little unnerved as I type this. And more than a little disgusted.

(The HOME NEWS TRIBUNE and their website were a source of much of this blog entry.)

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