Modern-day horror story

There's sometimes no rhyme or reason for criminal behavior.

People who read Tuesday's News-Gazette story about the October 2011 abduction and beating of a visitor to Champaign-Urbana surely were sickened by the details of a vicious crime committed simply for fun.

Those who haven't read it should go back and take a look because this incident represents the average citizen's worst nightmare — a near-death experience at the hands of vicious predators who grabbed their victim at random for no reason other than they wanted to do so.

Two thoughts come to mind:

— The 20-year prison sentence imposed on 18-year-old Dorian Wills by Circuit Judge Thomas Difanis was none too harsh. Wills' two accomplices — Ralph Gray and Anthony Davis, both 18 — were scheduled to be sentenced today, and they, too, will deserve every day behind bars they get.

— The police work in this case was exemplary. Because the victim was beaten so savagely he had a limited memory of what happened to him, police investigator Robb Morris had little to go on other than the lucky recovery of the victim's stolen cellphone.

Nonetheless, Morris was able to use the phone to track down one of the assailants and, from there, the other two. All three eventually pleaded guilty.

The victim, Australian researcher Clinton Fookes, who was in town to do some work at the University of Illinois' Beckman Institute, was grabbed off the street as he left a downtown Champaign restaurant.

Kicked and beaten, stripped of his clothing, robbed and dumped in the country, Fookes said his most vivid memory of the attack is the glee his attackers expressed while he begged that his life be spared so that his young children not be left without a father.

"This only made them laugh harder, and it seemed to spur them on," Fookes wrote in a statement to the court.

That Fookes survived the attack is a miracle of sorts, but his broken bones, broken teeth, frostbite, long months of recovery and continued physical and mental difficulties stand as a grim reminder of this evening of horror and the utter randomness of violent crime.

Some may struggle with the hows and whys surrounding this event. But the explanation is as simple as it is obvious. Evil abounds in this world. This attack was three young men's idea of having a good time, and if that's not evil, then nothing is.

The good news is that the victim survived, that his children didn't lose their father, that the attackers were identified, arrested and prosecuted. The bad news is that occurrences like this are part of the landscape of life.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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