Monday, May 17, 2010
Why Vigilantism Is a Bad Idea
An elderly Bithlo resident was beaten to death with a black Louisville Slugger baseball bat because the killer mistakenly thought the man was a sex offender, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies arrested 20-year-old Robert Pascale on Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder with a weapon after deputies with dogs tracked him to a muddy pond near Sixth Street in Bithlo, where he was hiding. Pascale was submerged in the water, only his face exposed. The dead man, Hugh Edwards, 78, had no criminal history. It's unclear why anyone thought he was a sexual offender. Details about Edwards' killing became public in the arrest report for Pascale's friend, 32-year-old Michael Garay, charged with accessory to murder.
Deputies were alerted to a possible homicide when Christa Limerick called 911 early Wednesday and said she thought her acquaintances had killed a man inside a trailer, reports show. Officers were dispatched to Fifth Avenue in Bithlo around 4:24 a.m. and found Edwards dead in a pool of blood. Officers noted signs of a struggle. Limerick told deputies she was drinking with a group of friends when Pascale asked her what she would do if she had kids and lived next door to a sex offender, the report shows. Limerick said she would kill the person, according to the report. Shortly after that conversation, Limerick said, she watched Pascale and Garay walk into the elderly man's fenced yard and return a short while later.
Garay later told deputies they returned to the home to get a baseball bat. Then they walked back over to the man's trailer, and Pascale "jimmied" the lock open, the report says. Garay told deputies he waited outside while Pascale went inside. Garay told deputies that he heard several "thumping" sounds come from the trailer. After the beating, Garay, Pascale, Limerick and another woman, Amber Baker, got into Limerick's car. The group drove to a nearby retention pond where Pascale dumped the baseball bat, according to the report. Next, the group drove to Pascale's mother's house so Pascale could change clothes. Once back in the car, they drove over to an area known as "Dead Man's Trail" where the two men got out of the car, reports show. Garay told deputies he and Pascale walked along a dirt path and Pascale walked into the woods to ditch the bloody clothing. Garay's jacket, which also had blood on it, was discarded, according to the affidavit. The men then met up with the women at a nearby Circle K convenience store about 20 minutes later.
Deputies have recovered the bat and the clothing, the report says.
Records show Garay's criminal history includes arrests on charges of battery of a law-enforcement officer. Pascale has a violent criminal past and spent two years in a state prison for stealing a car, burglary, robbery with a deadly weapon and battery on a detention-facility staff member, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
There's a lot of darkeness in the world.
Vigilantism is actually the very act described in the killing of Hugh Edwards, the summary punishment of someone for a perceived crime. Purely evil stuff.