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The Hudson killings

Mar 25, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Last November, when it was first reported that two people had been found dead inside a burned-up trailer house in Hudson, practically no one would have guessed what the case would become -- an ever-unfolding tale of conspiracy and, allegedly, murder involving a widening circle of people, one of them just 15 years old.

And the same, in a sense, is true today. How this case will end is anybody's guess. Since the first arrest was announced earlier in the month, a new development has emerged every day or two.

Another person arrested. Then another. Then more details about the "CSI"-style police work which broke the case.

Then came information about the pre-planning, the killings, the return to the scene of the crime, the arson. Then the almost laughable carelessness that proved this anything but the perfect crime.

Then the growing suspect list. Siblings. Women. Teens, including one who was celebrated in this newspaper as a "Student of the Week" not long before the crimes occurred.

And, always, the scuttlebutt, the rumors, the half truths and Internet-driven gossip and speculation and statements of fact that are nothing of the kind.

Each new detail brings a new question, always tied to a central one: Why? Everyone wants that answer. From the police to the newshounds, from the victimized families to the morbidly curious, everyone wonders why these killings took place, why so many people appear to be involved, whether there is some wider motive than the low-rent robbery described so far, and whether more charges and more suspects will be revealed. There will be more to come.

There is a picture bigger than the one painted by the crime investigation and the front-page headlines. It concerns the deeper, unavoidable human query concerning not just the details of this case, but the imperfections of human thought, behavior and mind that crack the door of civility enough for such things to happen at all.

Who are the people who consider their options and decide to exercise this one? How different are they from the rest of us? What tips the scale?

Even as we believe we've seen it all, there still are things that can make us shudder. We search for the obvious explanation. When none can be found, it only feeds the nagging, tugging fear that the the chasm between those who would plan and carry out a deadly crime and those who wouldn't is narrower than we think. That could be reason to shudder as well.

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Hudson