Sunday, January 20, 2008

Horrific crimes stand out in veteran cop's mind

Horrific crimes stand out in veteran cop's mind
By Paul Kibry, Freeman staff

KINGSTON - In the cool wee hours of a fall morning more than a decade ago, Timothy Matthews and fellow detectives walked along an abandoned railroad bed with a man Matthews believed to be a child killer.

At one point during the 3 a.m. trek, suspect Larry Whitehurst pointed to an ice pop wrapper on the ground, recalled the veteran officer, who now heads the Kingston Police Department's Detective Division.

The image of that wrapper is burned into Matthews' brain. It was a disturbing piece of evidence that added to the gathering horror of what would become clear moments later.

"I see that it's an ice pop wrapper, and he tells us, 'I bought it for her,'" Matthews said. "It was just so eerie."

Minutes later, the group came upon the body of 7-year-old Rickel Knox, whom Whitehurst had killed four days earlier.

THE SEPTEMBER 1995 case stands out in the 45-year-old detective's mind. First, because it involved an innocent young girl; and second, because it proved, contrary to Matthews' belief, that human beings can commit the most heinous of acts.

"To see someone like Larry Whitehurst, pure evil, go to jail for the rest of his life is definitely rewarding," said Matthews, who now holds the rank of detective lieutenant. "I had a bad feeling talking to him from the beginning."
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Nowhere in this article does it say Matthews has PTSD. I am not suggesting he does. What I am pointing to using this article is what people have to go through in the line of duty. We all tend to forget that police officers also develop PTSD. When you think about what they go through, what they see and what they have to do, it is easy understand how some can be so wounded by it all that they reach a point where it is no longer painful memories. They are as human as the rest of us. They are as human as the men and women in the military. They suffer in the line of duty to the rest of us.

Working with veterans all these years has lead me to appreciate them more than the casual observer. Once you get to know them, see them as humans doing extraordinary things, it is very hard to ever taken any of them for granted ever again.

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