When Ohio State and the Iowa Hawkeyes clash at Kinnick Stadium Saturday in a clash of Big 10 titans, fans in both states will have their minds set in smash-mouth football mode. But this week, both states have been the center of tragedies in small, normally quiet communities. Pure evil has replaced the fervor of football at a fever pitch.
Monday night, 17-year-old Michael Swanson, of St. Louis Park, Minn., allegedly walked into a gas station in Algona, reportedly wearing a ski mask, collected the money in the register, scored some smokes, then shot Vicky Bowman-Hall, 47. The mother of 11 later died at a local hospital. I would guess her final thoughts had to be filled with the question: "Why did he shoot me? I gave him what he wanted."
According to police reports, the teen then drove to Humboldt, about 30 miles south of Algona, and shot and killed 61-year-old Sheila Myers at another store.
Why? Because he could. No other reason. He claimed fear of witnesses, but the animal was wearing a mask.
To add insult to injury, dressed in black and white striped jail clothing following his arrest, Swanson giggled and laughed before the media.
Just a few states away, in the Buckeye state, authorities in rural central Ohio say a mother, her young son and a friend who disappeared more than a week ago were murdered in the family's home. Thursday, the bodies were found in garbage bags inside a hollowed-out tree about 20 miles northwest of their home.
The mother's 13-year-old daughter, who also disappeared, was found Saturday, bound and gagged in the basement of the home of a 30-year-old unemployed man who spent six years in a Colorado prison.
The young girl was home while Matthew Hoffman allegedly murdered the other three at the residence before kidnapping her and hiding her in his basement.
Hoffman provided information that led to the discovery of the bodies.
All of this in a seven-day window. Two heinous acts of evil being replayed in the media.
And guess what? Both had records.
According to an Associated Press report, Swanson has had several scrapes with the law based on Minnesota court and police records. He plead guilty in July to a felony count of stealing a car from his neighborhood and then crashing it into a parked Cadillac Escalade. He ran from the scene, and police found him hiding behind a parked vehicle, drunk.
It also alleged Swanson frequently disobeyed his household rules and acted out in the home, putting himself and those around him at risk of harm.
According to police logs, officers were called to Swanson's home at least 10 times since 2006 on reports of assaults, threats, weapons violence and theft. He was released from a juvenile rehabilitation center on Nov. 3.
A warrant issued for his arrest shows his family told police he left the family home on Sunday night and took his mother's debit card and her Jeep Grand Cherokee without her permission.
The family told police they believed he went to their cabin in the northern Minnesota community of Bigfork, where he broke in and took weapons.
Hoffman recently completed a six-year stay as a guest in the Colorado prison system for setting a fire to cover up a burglary. He had been released from parole only a month ago.
So, once again, our judicial system has failed to do the one thing it is charged to do -- protect society from the animals it is charged to incarcerate. Like rabid dogs, they are released from their cages on an unsuspecting community and they bite hard because it is all wild animals understand to do.
In the meantime, it is the innocent hard working mother of 11 years, another woman described by her family as an "angel," and small Ohio family that pays the price for the court system's failing.
Well, I know what happens to rabid dogs when they are captured. It would only seem appropriate that these two dogs get the same treatment.