What Do You Say to a Killer’s Parents?


Evil erupted in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20,
2012. Twelve people dead; 58 injured. We’re all horrified.

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One of the images of the last week is the alleged shooter’s father
exiting a plane at DIA. I watched him and wondered, “What would you
say to your son?” Would you enter his jail cell with rage, tears,
confusion, or stunned silence? I can’t even imagine.

And then it made me wonder: What do you say to a killer’s parents?
Rage, tears, confusion, or stunned silence? Or why not compassion?
After all, aren’t these people victims as well?

We’ve had experience in Colorado with these things. After the
Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999, people vilified the parents
who “should’ve known better.” There was very little compassion for
them. They became pariahs in all the circles they would’ve turned
to for support in the past.

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Dave Cullen wrote in his book “Columbine,” about a pastor who
reached out in compassion to the Klebolds–parents of one of the
killers. Reverend Marxhausen, pastor of St. Phillip Lutheran
Church, let the Klebold family know he was available–and even
officiated at a service for their dead son.

Cullen wrote: “Don Marxhausen made some of his parish
exceptionally proud. That was their pastor–a man who could find
compassion in his heart for anyone. A man capable of consoling the
couple who had unwittingly produced a monster…Some of his parish,
and much of the community, was appalled.”

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It makes me wonder: What would I say to a killer’s parents? What
would you say?

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About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 27 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as co-director of the KidMin Conference. She’s led teams in the development of leading innovative resources, including Group's Instant Christmas Play, Buzz Instant Sunday School curriculum, Grapple Preteen Curriculum, and the new Dig-In Sunday School curriculum. Follow Christine on Twitter @ChristineYJones

1 Comment

  1. Children's Ministry Magazine

    …great question… I have no answer… it's one of those questions where you sit.. and try to think and the pit of your stomach starts to tighten up. A lump forms in your throat and nothing comes.

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