Let’s face it, parents have a tendency to want to believe the best in their children.
This idea hit me especially hard when the mother of a young woman involved in an unspeakable crime spoke out in her daughter’s defense as the media increasingly implied that her daughter was … well, maybe not that great a person.
In a nutshell, five police officers from a drug task force were serving a search warrant on a suspected drug dealer at his home when the guy, Cullen Mutrie, opened fire on them, injuring several and killing Greenland, NH’s Chief of Police, Michael Maloney. Mutrie went on to kill a girl who was in the house with him at the time and then himself.
It was, to say the least, a clusterfuck … and one that really rocked the state of New Hampshire.
I was personally distraught on a number of levels, the first being that senseless death is always upsetting. It also seems especially horrible when someone is killed because of the nature of his job—I guess that I, as a public school teacher, always think back to school shootings. Finally, this took place less than ten minutes from my house. I literally watched police cars, ambulances, and even the ubiquitous black FBI van go charging past.
It was scary as hell.
But after the shock and the fear and the deep sadness that Chief Maloney, who was days away from his retirement, had been killed settled in a little bit, I started to wonder about Brittany Tibbets, the 26-year-old girl that Mutrie shot before turning the gun on himself. Who was she? Why was she there? What had her final minutes been like?
And then, almost on cue, her mother spoke out to the media, stating that her daughter and Mutrie had an on-again-off-again relationship.
“Did we have, maybe, concerns? Yes, but she’s 26 years old. We hoped we raised someone who made good decisions, and she’s the type of person that sees the good in people. Right now, it wasn’t good,” Donna Tibbetts said.
Despite the family’s concerns about Mutrie, Donna Tibbets claimed they “never saw this coming”.
The Tibbetts believe their daughter was only at the scene to help.
“I just don’t want this to be what people remember her for,” Donna Tibbetts said.
I have to say, I felt so damn bad for Donna Tibbets when I saw that on the news. I mean, no one wants to hear awful things about her kid in the media, especially when the family is deep …
… in the grieving process.
And the worst part was, you knew damn well (well, I did, so I’m guessing that it was pretty obvious) that Brittany Tibbets was not the innocent little Pollyanna her mother claimed she was, maybe even believed she was.
It was incredibly depressing, actually.
And then there was this, from Portsmouth Patch:
The Ruger .357 revolver recovered from Cullen Mutrie’s home at 517 Post Road in Greenland was purchased on Jan. 16 by his ex-girlfriend Brittany Tibbetts at a gun show in Manchester, the attorney general’s office announced this afternoon.
Not surprisingly, claims of Brittany Tibbets’ value to society from her grief-stricken family effectively ceased.
But I still feel sorry for them.
My daughter graduated from high school last week. She wore a gold National Honor Society cord and tassel, a World Language Honor Society cord, and earned numerous prestigious recognitions at Senior Awards Night. She received a heck of a financial package from the college of her choice, which also personally encouraged her to join their orchestra (because she is an elite musician) and take on a second major (because she’s freaking brilliant). Oh, and she’s also beautiful and funny and responsible and modest and …
You’d better believe that I’ve been driving home those points to pretty much everyone I know. Ad nauseam.
But I’m not naïve enough to believe that this will always be the case.
There will come a day that my daughter screws up, and badly. It happens to everyone. And, because I am her mother, my first reaction will be to remember the best in her, the parts of her that have gone above and beyond mediocrity, and, most importantly, the generosity she has given to the world.
Brittany Tibbets meant a lot to her family, who clearly wanted to make sure that what was good about her wasn’t buried by getting involved with the wrong guy.
The death of Chief Michael Maloney and the injuries of the other police officers was a tragedy. The loss of Cullen Mutrie, whose extensive criminal history involved domestic violence as well as drug charges, is probably a favor to the world (Mutrie’s mother has spoken out as well … asking that cars seized by police be returned to her, which I suppose speaks volumes).
Brittany Tibbets unquestionably owns a degree of responsibility for this terrible crime, but I can’t help but consider her mother’s words and wonder if a young woman arguably controlled by a man with a documented penchant for girlfriend-beating is also, on some level, a victim as well.