As a father I was hit hard by the news that Josh Powell – the husband of missing Utah mother Susan Powell and the police’s lone person of interest in her disappearance – had blown up his house killing himself and his two sons. Though I know he was far from the first father to ever kill his children, I nonetheless was left confused and saddened. How could a father kill his own babies?
For the longest time growing up I never would have imagined something like that was even possible. But then, when I was about thirteen or so, a news story broke about a man named Ramon Salcido who had killed his wife and in-laws, then disappeared with his three daughters. The police went on a manhunt looking for Salcido and his daughters, and I was convinced they would eventually find them all alive. My parents, however, told me it was more likely that he would kill his daughters too.
“No way,” I said. “He may be a crazy person, but those are his daughters!”
From my youthful eyes there was no way a man could kill his children even if he had already done something heinous. No father – not even an evil one – would kill his kids. But I was wrong. In the end we found out that Salcido had killed two of the girls and attempted to kill the third.
As upsetting as the Salcido story was to me as a kid, the Powell story got under my skin even more. The reason, I think, is largely because I am now a father myself. More than that, I am a father who has lost a child. I can’t express how angry it makes me to think this man took the lives of his own children when I would give anything to have my Maddie alive and by my side.
I wanted to write about this event ever since I heard the news on Sunday, but while I have thought a lot about it and had a lot of emotions churn up inside me, I am afraid I still can’t offer any meaningful take-a-way about why it happened. Even though the world has taught me it can be a dark, dark place, I still don’t have a clue how a father could kill his own child.