Before I get into this week's column, I want to give a big kudo to the folks at Clay County Emergency Management and the various Clay County utility resources for the new severe weather warning program. Just as Clay County fell under a tornado warning at 10:22 p.m. Monday night, my home phone rang, offering one more source of info regarding the impending weather. All land lines will be notified of such dangers, and those wishing to be notified by cell phone may register either online or in person with Clay County or the local communications provider.
Now, onto a less pleasant subject.
The Minnesota teen, charged with murder of two convenience store clerks, in Algona and Humboldt, was found guilty in a Carroll County courtroom on Thursday.
Looking like he just scored a prom date with the girl of his dreams, Michael Richard Swanson smiled from ear-to-ear as the jury foreman read the guilty verdict on his first murder charge. The young man followed that performance up with a laugh as he was also convicted on the first degree robbery charge as well.
This was all a follow-up to his grinning and flipping off the camera crews outside the courtroom as he was being escorted in to hear the jury's findings.
I feel sorry for a lot of people, but Michael Richard Swanson isn't one of them. I feel sorry for the families left to pick up the pieces following the pointless murders of their loved ones on the Nov. 15 evening. I feel sorry for Swanson's family who apparently have had to deal with this child's violent behavior from a very young age, trying to get him help only to be told it would do no good.
Swanson coldly walked into a pair of convenience stores within roughly an hour of one another, and killed both store clerks on duty despite the fact his identity was protected by a mask in both cases, and he received the complete cooperation of both ladies in each robbery.
His defense attorney's argued he was insane in the commission of these crimes. That's what they are paid to do. The facts would suggest otherwise. Swanson acted with complete forethought in both cases.
Before leaving Minnesota on his killing spree, he flashed a gun to friends and told them, "You'll see me on the news."
He told the investigators he knew he was going to shoot the woman, even going so far as to chamber the round before walking through the door.
According to his mother, Kathleen, her son admitted to thinking of hurting his aunt and grandmother, and allegedly ran through his neighborhood threatening people with a knife.
In closing arguments, the prosecution and defense battled over the issue of Swanson's sanity on the day of the crimes.
Michael Taylor, a psychiatrist who spoke with Swanson in April, took the stand and testified the teen had been thinking about murder since he was 13. Taylor said the murder's plan was to turn 18 and kill his parents.
Taylor quoted Swanson: "I have always been fascinated by death and violence, and it was something I wanted to do - murder, rape and cannibalism."
This young man is evil incarnate. While he was a child, his mother reportedly couldn't find a daycare who would keep him because of his dangerous behavior. When she tried to start her own and care for him, one account suggested she had to stop because she was fearful of what he might do to the other children.
Apparently civilized society is not the place for someone who has such desires to harm others for the sheer joy of doing so. He needs to be locked away and the key melted so he never sees life outside bars again.
I'm not going to suggest that God can't fix this man, let's just say he's going to have plenty of time to do it in the Iowa correctional system.