I was really disheartened to hear that the missing Montana high school teacher, Sherry Arnold, was declared dead. I don’t like that kind of news. This is North Dakota and while I know we are not crime-free here, we have decidely less violent crimes than most other places. I like that about this place. I don’t like hearing about regular folks, doing regular things, who are killed in the process.
When Sherry Arnold went missing, my first thought, for better or worse was Dru Sjodin. I still remember, as if it were yesterday, the search for Dru and where I was when I learned they had found her body. I was in the Minneapolis airport at a restaurant and I received a call from my daughter Sarah telling me they had found Dru’s body. Folks at nearby tables asked me about it when I got off the phone. We were all saddened, shaken and our sense of safety diminished. The Sjodin family obviously suffered the most obvious and direct loss, but everyone who spent time with the details of the crime and recognized the randomness with which Dru was chosen by Rodriguez recognized that it could have been their family member just as easily as it was Dru. That recognition changed the way we viewed our state. But time passes and these heinous type of incidents don’t happen every day here…we ease up, we begin again to believe that those type of things don’t happen here…until they happen again.
Sherry’s death should serve to remind us that even living here in a place where we are known for our North Dakota nice does not mean an absence of vulnerability. Regular people, doing regular things, can on any given day become a victim to a predator. Let us not forget that.
If you would like to participate in a simple, but significant memorial for Sherry see the Facebook page Porch Lights on for Sherry Arnold. Let it be known that in this tragedy we stand together in support of justice for Sherry.
Day nine hundred and twenty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da