“Something wasn’t right about her. She was always dressed in black and wore t-shirts with Satanic symbols on them,” said a neighbor of a 21-year-old Swiss woman accused of killing her father. Picture by Flickr user Horia Varlan.
In Switzerland, a young woman stands accused of stabbing her father to death — and seriously injuring her mother when she tried to intervene. Andrea S., 21, hadn’t lived with her parents for years, but apparently told friends she wanted her father dead. No one thought she was serious, even though she also said he had verbally abused her for years.
Andrea S. also allegedly kept a “death list” of people she planned to kill, friends said, and she once made death threats against a teacher.
Did anyone talk to Andrea S. about her feelings? Did they seek help or talk to the police about her behavior? It doesn’t sound like it.
And so, on Tuesday morning, she rode her bicycle parents’ home in Beringen, in Schaffhausen, toting a kitchen knife with her. She entered the apartment with her own key and stabbed her 52-year-old father who was sleeping on the couch. Andrea S. has been arrested for the attack, and has allegedly confessed to it.
According to statistics, the most common reason young people kill their parents is abuse. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would suspect other reasons why Andrea S. would have taken her father’s life.
And yet, they did. News outlets said acquaintances and neighbors described Andrea S. this way:
She is considered an introverted individual, prone to angry outbursts and aggression, according to acquaintances and neighbours. She wore black clothing exclusively and had expressed an interest in Satanism on several websites, including on her MySpace page.
“Something wasn’t right about her,” a neighbour told the newspaper Blick. “She was always dressed in black and wore t-shirts with Satanic symbols on them.”
Take a girl who is constantly berated and abused at home. Would she be extroverted? Probably not. Would she be capable of emotional serenity? Possibly, but you wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t. Would you expect her to wear bright, friendly colors and clothes that made her seem approachable? Doubt it.
Sure, “something wasn’t right about her.” She was hurting. Instead, these comments suggest that Andrea’s penchant for black clothes and “Satanic symbols” had anything to do with her reasons for killing.
We’ve seen such suggestions before. The result? Three young men — probably innocent — have spent more time in prison than they spent growing up. If you’re going to accuse, let alone convict, someone of a crime, go with the evidence at hand — and fashion or faith are not evidence. Comments like the ones above can taint the minds of jurors, as well as the general public, who might make similar connections next time they see a black-clad kid they don’t like.
How can we create more sympathy for misfit kids in pentagrams and black clothing? How can we keep them from becoming targets?