Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rest in Peace Ashley Duncan, 17: No One Listened

Monday, Ashley Duncan didn't go to school.  Instead, she used the Internet Sunday and into Monday, her Twitter and Tumblr accounts, to tell anyone who was listening that she was in too much pain to handle alone.  No one listened.  Friends say they thought she was joking even as she posted a picture of a revolver that she'd "...finally found...".  Then, Monday, Ashley, 17, took that newfound revolver and ended her life.

She spoke of being in too much pain.  She spoke bluntly: "Life ain't worth all the pain."  She spoke of wanting to die "...every minute, second, hour, day, month, year...".  No one took that seriously.  Now, sadly, she's gone.

I'm involved in several anti-bullying, anti-suicide groups and communities online.  It's not unusual at all to read distressing messages from young people.  In fact, I read them almost daily.  And, in truth, there have been one or two that have raised the suspicion "I wonder if (s)he's serious or just pulling my leg?"  In a couple cases, my gut told me that I was just being played with.  However, I understand that they could also be serious about it and in a very precarious situation.  I take every call for help seriously until I find out otherwise.  And, even if then, I'll follow up a couple time just to make sure things are ok.  A human life is too precious to do otherwise.  Unfortunately, now Ashley's friends will have a lifetime of second-guessing themselves, wondering if they could've been the one to save her life.  The answer will never be known.

This won't be the first time I've said this:  listening goes such a long way.  Not just hearing.  I'm hearing a wonderful song being played on the overhead music player right now; however, I'm not listening to it.  I'm focused on Ashley Duncan's suicide right now.  Listening requires attention.  If every one of use can hone the fine art of listening, we can undoubtedly save lives.  There's almost always a cry for help before disaster strikes.  We have to be able to pay attention, to listen, in order to hear it.  If someone had listened to Ashley, she'd be alive today.

Sadly, that's not the case.  Sadly, her friends and family now must say goodbye.  Rest in peace, Ashley Duncan.  You have our attention now.  Sorry it came too late.

From Beyond the Grave

I've been reading and re-reading this article for over a week, now, trying to make sense of it.  I've pored over every piece of information from the case reports to the newspaper articles to the death certificate.  I've looked at all of the pictures, including the ones of Jason Dale Bolton's tortured body lying in the middle of the street after being run over by a car to the ones of him lying, peacefully, in his coffin.  I watched the video.  And, after all of this, I came away 1.) heartbroken; but, 2.) angry.  Angry that people could be so cold, so cruel as to do this to another human being.  Angry that the Fayette County (Indiana) authorities chose to sweep this under the carpet.  See, Jason was brutally murdered, but they wrote it off as a bad car accident.

The story of Jason Dale Bolton dates back to August of 1991.  He was 16 at the time.  Life hadn't even really begun for him.  From what I've been able to glean from the information provided, Jason got mixed up with the wrong crowd.  On that fateful night in 1991, he was at a friend and neighbor's house.  They were partying.  The toxicology report shows alcohol (blood/alcohol level 0.11) and Xanax.  So, they were partying pretty heavily.  That, however, doesn't explain the chain of events that followed.

Jason was castrated.  His mutilated body lie in the middle of a rural road as he bled profusely.  Passed out from the horrific pain, his attackers thought he lied there dead.  In an effort to at least attempt to cover up their brutal crime, they opted to stage it as an accident.  Already lying spread eagle in the middle of the road, on the verge of bleeding to death, they opened his legs even more.  They then took their car and carefully ran over him, crotch first, as people watched.  People watched!!  If he wasn't already dead, the weight of the car crush the life out of him.  That's an amazing level of violence.  If there's a silver lining for Jason, it was that the body is designed to shut down if its enduring severe trauma.  He didn't feel the weight of a vehicle crush his 16-year-old torso and skull.  He did, however sadly, have to endure the unimaginable pain from the castration.  And, for that incredibly inhumane action, no one has had to pay.  The Fayette County authorities bought the "accident" story, castration and all.

For 20 1/2 years now, Jason's family has had to not only live with the pain of having lost their beloved 16-year-old son and brother, they've also had to endure the horror of knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that he was brutally murdered, by people he knew and grew up with, yet no one was charged.  No one.  "It was an accident."  The police didn't investigate it further.  Worse, there are people who witnessed this heinous act who never came forward, people who lived right there where the Boltons lived.  Unfathomable.

So, here we are:  more than 20 years later.  Still, no justice for Jason.  Or, his family.  And, you're asking "why write about this now?"  Here's why.  Jason Dale Bolton deserves justice.  It's as simple as that.  His family needs closure.  A whole generation has entered this world and are now college-age since the time Jason was killed.  Yet, it goes unsolved today.  Not only that, but the Fayette County police say they don't have the resources available to re-open the case.  If this were a family member of mine, I'd be screaming at the top of my lungs every single day until they were compelled to re-open and re-examine the evidence in the case.  Handled properly, they'd stop at the castration and know that foul play was very definitely at hand.  Therefore, the mission here is to spread the word, and spread it to every corner of the planet.  The more people who know of this atrocity, the better the chances are of compelling Fayette County to re-open the case and find for justice Jason.

If this story angers or moves you in any way, share it.  And, keep sharing it until there is justice for Jason Dale Bolton.