A momentous anniversary tonight, one whose details will be re-hashed by many so I won't bother. It was one of those "special reports" that stays with you through the years. One of those events that touches every person who hears it, and not in a good way. For me, lover of ghosts and all things unusual and supernatural, this was the trigger event that eventually drew me to a degree in abnormal psychology.
Charlie and his Family remain a morbidly fascinating enigma.
These days Charlie's an old man -no less dangerous, no less charismatic - word has it he's on the net, Myspace and Facebook, and has lots of fans. One twenty-two year old girl has traveled cross-country to visit him in prison because "he has the answers. He's in tune with nature and understands the cosmos." This one girl could be the poster child for why Charlie needs to be taken seriously and separated from society and freedom for the rest of his days.
How does this turn into the pure embodiment of evil?
How does a mother sell her son for a pitcher of beer?
How does one man spend 76% of his life in prison (a percentage that will surely only increase, since no sane parole board will ever release him)?
How does a prison literally throw a released prisoner out their door, in spite of his begging to remain (Terminal Island Prison, 1967), claiming it is the only home he's ever known?
How could we have expected him to turn out any differently?
And of course, the ultimate question: what makes him different from us? Is the hard wiring different? Was it all environment, a horrible accident of birth - wrong place, wrong time, wrong mother? Perhaps an unfortunate combination of those factors?
Even more disturbing: How does this odd little man still continue to fascinate and entrance our young? What could possibly be so lacking in that twenty-two year old girl's life that she would be drawn to this particular person as someone who "understood"? On what level does a psychopath understand?
Or is it as Charlie said so many years ago: our society is empty of true meaning, and the children flock to him for love and meaningfulness to their lives.
Which one is scarier: Charlie or the thought that we live in a world that empty?