Saturday, March 29, 2008

Teen Suspects in Interstate Shootings in Custody

I just saw that they have two teen suspects in custody after two people were shot on Interstate 64 in Virginia:

Investigators said they now believe the shootings that slightly injured two drivers were part of a long night of random gunfire in which the 19-year-old, a former high school athlete with a record of making trouble, and a 16-year-old also shot at a credit union and a residence.

"Everyone can, I think, rest compared to the state that we were in overnight," State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty said at a news conference in Charlottesville.....

On a MySpace page attributed to Woodson, he described his occupation as "mechanic, sorta" and wrote, "Im just a country boy who keeps gettin his heart broken!!! Ive got my heart broken twice in less then a year... i dunno wat to do.... keep gettin my heart broke or stop caring!!! and i dont wanna stop caring."

Police declined to offer a possible motive in the highway shootings, which began early Thursday in central Virginia.

Woodson, the nineteen year old suspect sounds like a real prize:

According to news reports and court records, Woodson was arrested January 18, 2007, on allegations he stole two pickup trucks and set them on fire. Woodson, a former high school pole vaulter, was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of petit larceny and given a suspended sentence.

If I am reading this article correctly, stealing pick-up trucks and setting them on fire is just a misdemeanor worthy only of a suspended sentence. What's up with that? I don't know the details of this situation, but I have seen enough to know that even when teens and adults commit some pretty serious crimes, they often get a slap on the wrist. It's no wonder someone with a reputation as a troublemaker feels that he can get away with anything. Suddenly, shooting at random people on an interstate seems like a fun way to spend an evening, especially when one has rarely encountered any serious consequences for their past behavior.

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Blogger Mercurior said...

and then they will go into counselling to prove they have a dysfunctional home life and so need less time in prison.

so next time, murder.

4:15 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, and even then, murder is sometimes not taken that seriously. We had two kids near Knoxville who shot two people off an interstate, killed one and wounded another--they were 11 and 13, I believe. I think they are in some kind of facility but may have gotten out already --I know they couldn't be held past 19 or 21.

4:25 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger tweedburst said...

Apparently he had his heart broken by two pickup trucks.

4:34 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Trust said...

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the term "Defining Deviancy Down." It's not often I agree with a democrat on such issues, I think he was on target here. His point is that we deal with the crime and deviance by lowering the threshold for what we are prepared to call normal.

Charles Krauthammer wrote about the other half, called Defining Deviancy Up, where other behaviors normally considered normal are now considered deviant.

We basically have it backwards. Murderers are sick and need educated, whereas thoughts are becoming crimes.

Story is here:,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

Good read. And it is from 2000, so the trend continues.

4:43 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger pst314 said...

"stealing pick-up trucks and setting them on fire is just a misdemeanor worthy only of a suspended sentence. What's up with that?"

Dr. Helen, do you remember a rock song titled "Excitable Boy" by Warren Zevon?

6:59 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


No, but it sounds like it might be relevant here.

7:04 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took little Susie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the Home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

7:13 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Peter V. Bella said...

I gave up on the so called justice system many years ago. I sort of understand the phrase, there is no justice, just us.

7:31 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger vivictius said...

I was actually thinking more in line with Oingo Boingo's Only A Lad.

8:47 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger Cappy said...

He ought to look into blogging.

9:50 PM, March 29, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen:
Is this type of stuff truly on the rise, or are we more sensitized to it
and / or is it being sensationalized?

I know it's pretty easy between cable TV and Internet sites to suffer information overload these days.

10:34 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Damn pole vaulters, never could trust 'em.

But, yes, stealing and burning trucks deserves stiffer punishment.

3:51 AM, March 30, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


"Is this type of stuff truly on the rise, or are we more sensitized to it and / or is it being sensationalized?"

Perhaps a bit of both. Teen killing has been on the rise since the 40's, 50's and sixties. It seemed to peak around 1994 and then started flattening out. The difference is that teens are committing more frightening crimes which are troubling such as beating someone's brains out just for the hell of it or shooting up schools etc. The more extreme crimes coupled with cable tv sensationalizing the crimes sends the message that this is the way for sick, twisted or narcissistic individuals to get attenion or cope with their stresses. We used to teach self-control. Now, thanks to our culture, we have a combination of lack of discipline, a penchance for externalizing blame onto others (never your own fault) and the copycat factor from TV. In addition, criminals seem to have more rights than the rest of us leading to a feeling that violent crime is not so bad. A drug dealer or someone looking at child porn who has not killed anyone often gets more time than someone who has actually killed another person.

7:46 AM, March 30, 2008  
Blogger jabrwok said...

I'm reminded of _Starship Troopers_ (the book, there is only the book), in which Mr. Dubois is describing the Terror that descended on Western Civilization in the late 20th Century.

"Let's get back to those juvenile criminals. The most vicious averaged somewhat younger than you here in this class...and they often started their lawless careers much younger...These children were often caught; police arrested batches each day. Were they scolded? Yes, often scathingly. Were their noses rubbed in it? Rarely. News organs and officials usually kept their names secret - in many places the law so required for criminals under eighteen. Were they spanked? Indeed not! Many had never been spanked even as small children; there was a widespread belief that spanking, or any punishment involving pain, did a child permanent psychic damage."

"They probably were not spanked as babies; they certainly were not flogged for their crimes. The usual sequence was: for a first offense, a warning - a scolding, often without trial. After several offenses a sentence of confinement but with sentence suspended and the youngster placed on probation. A boy might be arrested many times and convicted several times before he was punished - and then it would be merely confinement, with others like him from whom he learned still more criminal habits. If he kept out of major trouble while confined, he could usually avoid most of even that mild punishment, be given probation - 'paroled' in the jargon of the times.

This incredible sequence could go on for years while his crimes increased in frequency and viciousness, with no punishment whatever save rare dull-but-comfortable confinements. Then suddenly, usually by law on his eighteenth birthday, this so-called 'juvenile delinquent' becomes an adult criminal - and sometimes wound up in only weeks or months in a death cell awaiting execution for murder."

"I told you that 'juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms. 'Delinquent' means 'failing in duty.' But duty is an adult virtue - indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires a knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be, a 'juvenile delinquent'. But for every juvenile criminal there are always one or more adult delinquents - people of mature years who either do not know their duty, or who, knowing it, fail."

Sorry for the length there, but it all seemed relevant. There's more, but I've used up enough bandwidth as is.

5:07 PM, March 30, 2008  
Blogger Trust said...

My nephew was taught in 5th grade class how to put a condom on. Now he's 13 and has had sex. And people scramble to figure out, why oh why, with all the education, why 1 in 4 teenagers (as recently reported) has an STD such as HPV.

It's the same as this article...whe something isn't considered a big deal, they won't think much about doing a bit more. Teach them too young how to use condoms, and don't be surprised when the want to see how it feels without (what's the big deal, they'll say). Teach them that grand theft auto and arson isn't a big deal, and they won't think much about doing something a bit worse.

If I have children, I shudder for their future.

12:16 AM, March 31, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this guy's related to Ernest T. Bass?

5:11 PM, April 01, 2008  
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