Saturday, September 26, 2009

Murder on the Beach

When Amy and I arrived at our Ilwaco house Friday night there was last week’s edition of the Chinook Observer, the local weekly newspaper, lying on the dining table in the kitchen. My cousin Debra, who lives down the road in Seaview, had obviously left it there not knowing that Dave had brought me a copy that week when he came down to mow the yard and take my mother out for birthday dinner. Debra doesn’t always leave the paper on my table, but she did this time because this particular one had an article about the murder that occurred two weeks ago when I was in Ilwaco last.

The Long Beach Peninsula is not a stranger to murders, but they are rare and this one was particularly heinous. Lisa Bonney, in her forties, was shot in the back by a shotgun wielded by an ex-boyfriend, Brian Keith, in broad daylight on the main beach approach in Long Beach on the Friday of the busiest weekend of the Summer, the End of the World Rod Run, and in full view of two policemen. Needless-to-say the man was apprehended immediately, but two grown children were left without their mother and the community horrified. As the investigation has proceeded it has been revealed that this man was already under investigation by the FBI for difficulties with his boat building business in Roseburg, OR. Lisa Bonney, who already had a restraining order against her murderer, had believed that meeting this man in a very public place would keep her safe. Women need to learn that if your gut tells you a man is dangerous, don’t assume that anywhere is safe.

The Seattle television stations gave the murder little attention at the time it happened. The Peninsula is nearer to Portland, Oregon which did pay attention. Seattle seemed more interested in the fact that there were 60,000 hotrod enthusiasts on the Peninsula that weekend without explaining that the murder had nothing to do with the Rod Run. Lisa Bonney picked the beach approach because she knew it would be crowded and believed that that fact would prevent diaster.

Brush has not been arraigned yet, but remains in jail on a $50 million bail. The bail indicates the community’s outrage. The arraignment was postponed so that authorities can do a second search of his Long Beach house. In last week’s paper he was pictured in tears. I don’t think anyone on the Peninsula feels sorry for him, but there’s a collective heartache for the children and parents of Lisa Bonney.

In a small community like this everyone knows everyone else and everyone’s business. As a friend used to say, “This is a small sandbox. You’d better be careful where you shit.” It is a community where if you’re smart you keep your front room picked up and, if you care, put your make-up on when you go shopping (the flip side of that is you could go in your bathrobe and no one would be surprised)—even in Astoria—since everywhere you go you’re going to run into people with whom you have at least a nodding acquaintance or someone whose ex had married your ex making your somehow family of a sort. It is what is charming and frustrating about life in a small community, but the frustration is compensated for by the beauty of the landscape and the salt in the air. I guess that’s what makes murder here seem even more tragic, but they happen in even the most beautiful places.

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