Kyle Smith, 17, is accused of killing his grandparents and setting their house on fire in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
Kyle Smith, a 17-year-old from Midwest City, Oklahoma, is behind bars after being arrested for allegedly murdering his grandparents, David and Rose Garrick, and then setting their house on fire March 23. Two of Smith’s friends, 18-year-old Dustin Martin and 17-year-old Jacob LeBlanc, are also in jail for allegedly helping cover up the crime, but much of the media focus has rested on Smith and the “evidence” found in the home he shared with his grandparents.
Among that evidence, according to Oklahoma’s News 9 broadcast, is a “demonic drawing,” hinted at in this video. Out of context, a “demonic drawing” means almost nothing: Was it a pentagram (as the broadcast suggests) or something else? (Not all pentagrams are “demonic.”) If so, how do we know which way it was pointing? Do we know if it was Smith’s? Did it have any other writing on it? Was it clear it had anything to do with the occult, or was it inspired by an album cover or other piece of art? Did Smith draw it? Was it hidden away, or was it scribbled on a school-book cover? And what does this have to do with the crimes he allegedly committed?
The newscaster in the video actually gets a few things right, probably more by dint of the fact that she had to produce something about this supposed “demonic drawing,” but didn’t have any information on the drawing itself: she went to someone who knew more than she did about occult symbols and instead had him talk about what it means if a teen has one of these in his/her bedroom. This someone is private investigator Robert Smart, who says he’s had “training on how to read these kinds of drawings.” (Hope his training isn’t from Don Rimer.) His descriptions of the various symbols is less than illuminating, but his encouragement that parents should talk to their kids about these things is spot-on.
Unfortunately, all this is hinged on Smith’s crime, creating the impression that the described “demonic symbol” had anything to do with the murders. (Though Smart does rightly point out that Satanists don’t generally commit murder.)
Another Oklahoma broadcaster, NewsChannel 4, doesn’t do much better:
Inside the walls of the burned home, investigators seized a demonic drawing, a heavy metal CD with a pentagram, along with a hatchet, a samurai sword, a dagger, knives and two gas cans.
… “A heavy metal CD with a pentagram.” That doesn’t really clarify things. Antimusic.dom dug deeper and learned that the album in question was by Slipknot, probably All Hope Is Gone, which features a nine-pointed star, or nonagram, not a pentagram. According to the band’s own Web site, each of the points on this nine-pointed star represents one of the members of the band. How is this relevant to the crime? How many other ways would the reporters like to get their facts wrong? The mind boggles.
So far, there’s been little on Smith’s actual mental state, or his relationship with his grandparents. Was he violent? Disturbed? Abused? Why was he living with his grandparents and not his parents? NewsChannel 4 does stick in one speculative line: “We don’t know why. There’s been questions about the psychological welfare of this 16-year-old suspect. That ‘s up to the experts, we have no idea,” said Chief Clabes. But that comes after this one, which has as little to do with the crimes as the “demonic drawing” or the Slipknot album:
“We’ve been told by residence [sic] in the area they’ve seen him dress in all black, Gothic. Well, we’ve been told they saw him in the backyard throwing daggers at the fence. We’ve been told he listens to heavy metal. That was his own admittance, that he does listen to heavy metal. Is that significant in this case? I don’t know. Does it mean anything in this case? I don’t know,” said Chief Clabes.
All of these comments trivialize the nature of this crime, whether Smith or someone else committed it. This was an awful, brutal homicide, likely committed either by someone in a deeply disturbed state or by someone pushed too far by trauma and circumstance. The fact that reporters continue to grasp at speculative straws — particularly when the suspect is a teenager, gets us no closer to understanding this crime — or any violent crime committed by a minor. And this is something we, as a society, both desperately want and desperately need to undersand.