This Week’s Newsletter (dated 1 July 2018) is the first in True’s 25th(!!) Year. It’s a solid issue with tragedy and comedy, and this blog post has examples of both. While you may seethe at the first story, you’re almost guaranteed to laugh by the end of this page.
Let’s start with some outrage, remembering that True is about news — and thus, by extension, human — commentary. While the taglines can certainly be funny, as you’ll see on this story they can also be used as a vehicle for biting slams. So with that:
Fifty years ago, a car ran over Carolee Ashby, 4, in upstate New York — and the driver kept going. For decades, the girl’s family had no closure about who was responsible for her death. Police had a suspect, but the case was never solved. Recently, in Sanford, Maine, a car came blasting through the gate at a baseball park during a 9:00 a.m. game, drove around the bases, and ran over a man who was there to watch his grandson play. He was killed. The driver, a woman with two drunk-driving convictions, tried to leave, but was caught by police. Five years ago, the man who was killed, Douglas Parkhurst, 68, was contacted by police after a tip and, once he was assured the statute of limitations was expired and he couldn’t be prosecuted, admitted in a signed confession that at age 18, he was the one who killed the little girl when he was drunk, and fled. He was the original suspect in the case. The baseball park driver, Carol Sharrow, 51, has been charged with manslaughter. (RC/Portland Press Herald) …Slaughter, yes. Man, not really.
Darlene Ashby McCann was holding her little sister’s hand when the girl was hit back in 1968, and thrown 133 feet. After Parkhurst was killed in much the same way as her little sister, McCann commented, “He left us all these years with nothing, not even an ‘I’m sorry’” — Parkhurst never gave the family an apology, just the police, saying in his confession he was “so sorry” for killing the girl.
It’s not that Parkhurst was afraid to speak to the family: he did call McCann, but only to say “I am not sure that I did it” — after signing the four-page confession describing how he did hit the girl.
Finding the Truth
The case was broken by the police investigator in the case, Russ Johnson — after his retirement. He had inherited the case years after the incident, and couldn’t explain why the original investigator had not followed up on the lead on Parkhurst. When originally interviewed, Parkhurst explained away the dent in his car by saying he had run into a pole. I find it hard to believe that in the decades since killing the girl, he never looked up the law to see when the statute of limitations had saved him from prosecution; he had to be assured by police that he would not be prosecuted before he would confess.
The unsolved case haunted Johnson, and in 2012, after he had retired, he made a post on Facebook asking for leads. He got them, and cracked the case. But a reporter who reviewed all the police documents found a disturbing item: police were told in 1974 — six years after the death — that Parkhurst was drunk at a party and bragged that he had killed the girl, “and got away with it.”
Why didn’t police follow up on the lead in 1968? Why didn’t they follow up on the tip in 1974? Unclear: those investigators are long retired, perhaps even dead. McCann, the older sister, summed it up this way: “It feels it has made a full circle. Now I am relieved. I truly am. The same thing that happened to my sister happened to him. It made a complete circle. Now it is time to move on.”
I feel sorry for the grandson, who probably watched his grandfather run down by a drunk driver, and now has to contend with the facts of his grandfather’s actions as a teen — and well beyond. But, at least, he has the closure Parkhurst consciously denied the Ashby family for so long.
And the Humor?
Got you covered. This one’s actually a follow-up to a story from last year:
As promised, the London “fatberg” — a giant glob of “congealed fat, oil, and wet wipes” found clogging the English city’s sewer (“An Exhibit of Titanic Proportions” from This is True #1228, 24 December 2017) — has gone on display at the Museum of London. At least, a piece of it has: the thing was 250 meters (820 ft) long, and weighed an estimated 130 metric tons. Despite the fact that the museum display is now hatching flies, “begun to sweat,” and is changing colors, the exhibit has prompted a “marked increase” in visitors, says the museum’s curator of social and working history, Vyki Sparkes. So much so that the museum is considering doing something to preserve it beyond its scheduled five-month exhibition. Sparkes says the chunk o’ fatberg is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits and produces an “incredible reaction” from visitors. So much so that the next idea, currently under development, is “Fatberg — the Musical”. Really. (RC/BBC) …It ain’t over until the fatberg sings.
BBC noted it took nine weeks for sewer workers to remove the fatberg from the sewer using power tools. Each day they pulled out 20-30 metric tons of fat — “equivalent to 80,000-120,000 packs of lard.” Mmmmmm!
So if only a portion was put on display in the museum, what happened to the rest of it? It was processed into biodiesel, which is pretty cool.
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