Last October, Kimberly Cates was violently murdered in her home. Her eleven-year-old daughter was seriously injured in the attack, which involved a machete. Four adolescent boys were charged with the crime, and one of them has written an unapologetic (and grammatically atrocious) letter to a local newspaper from the confines of his jail cell.
This story is out of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, less than an hour away from where I live. It’s a quiet, picturesque place, almost a caricature of what a small New England town should be. That’s why the details of the Cates attack came as such a shock.
20-year-old Christopher Gribble told police after his arrest he had wanted to kill someone for a long time and was disappointed he didn’t feel any emotion following the Oct. 4 killing of Kimberly Cates in her Mont Vernon home.
In the same attack, 11-year-old Jaimie Cates was injured by Gribble. Jaimie Cates told investigators that she was sleeping with her mother in her parents’ bedroom when her mother woke her up in the middle of the night asking if she had heard a noise.
Cates said her mother went to the door to check on the noise and was attacked by a man holding what the child described as a sword. The girl jumped up and tried to protect her mother, and the weapon was then turned on her, according to the affidavit.
So this little girl is sleeping in her mom’s room while her father is away. The mother hears a noise, wakes the kid up, and the next thing you know, they’re being attacked with a machete. That little girl had some guts, in my opinion. Serious guts.
Documents say that Jaimie Cates tried to escape the bedroom and Gribble grabbed her, stabbed her in the right lung and tried to stab her in the heart through the back. According to documents, Gribble then threw the girl against a glass door and she fell to the floor. He then kicked her and slashed her in the face with a machete, police said in the documents.
Cates told investigators that she pretended to be dead while Gribble checked her mother. She was eventually able to call 911, and although she didn’t speak on the phone, it was enough to bring a police officer to the scene.
The story has been big here in New Hampshire, where the news is more often centered around miniature horses and the occasional theft of a Virgin Mary statue. This is horrible, but it’s almost become just another part of the 5:00 news. However, it snapped fully back onto my radar yesterday, when it was announced that one of the alleged assailants, Steven (not to be confused with Stephen) Spader, contacted the media via a letter.
More from WMUR:
Spader said in the letter that during his nine months in jail, he has been keeping up with the coverage of his case, and he’s not happy with what he’s read.
“(A) majority of this state are uninformed idiots,” Spader writes in the letter. “Everyone seems to have there (sic) own take on this story, and no one has there (sic) facts straight.”
Spader wrote that too many people have forgotten that he and his codefendants are innocent until proven guilty.
You really sort of have to read the letter, available here courtesy of the Nashua Telegraph, to fully grasp the true horror of the situation. What’s really frightening is that Spader is remembered as a pretty nice kid by some, including his middle school drama teacher. Was the potential for a crime of this magnitude percolating even then?
I cannot escape the horrible image of a mother and child awakening in the middle of the night to a scene right out of a horror movie. It’s truly unbelievable, and the fact that the crime was perpetrated by four local adolescents, three of them under the age of eighteen, makes it somehow even worse.
It’s a scary world we live in.