In South Dakota, 73-year-old Carl Ericsson rang an old high school classmate’s doorbell in January and shot him dead.
Why? Norman Johnson had forced his killer to wear a jock strap on his head in a high school locker room when they were both boys almost 60 years ago. Ericsson hadn’t seen or talk to Johnson in decades, but the humiliation apparently festered. A successful family man now in retirement, Ericsson had battled emotional illness in recent years, and suddenly decided to settle the score of an old grudge.
This was a senseless death and a tragedy that scars two families. Still, I think the tale of how a victim of bullying suddenly got horrible revenge on his tormenter six decades later is s story that should be told early and often in the schools.
It may make some would-be bullies think twice before that atomic wedgie, the embarrassing photo, or the mean Facebook post.
[NOTE: when this article was first posted, the end portion of the ABC story I linked to above and below was inadvertently copied into it after my last line. That was unintentional. Since I am both a lousy speller, a lousy typist and a computer maladroit, I sometimes copy a portion of the story I am basing a post upon into the body of the post, for easy reference, and occasionally to cut and paste names like “Ericsson” that I just know I’m going to misspell at least once. When I do that, I usually remember to delete it. And when I don’t usually Tim Levier catches it before now. My apologies to ABC, the AP, and you.]
Facts and Graphic: ABC
26 thoughts on “Silver Lining To A Homicide”
Is there EVER a silver lining to a homicide?????
If I suddenly decided to take revenge on every school kid I knew who had tried to pull a cheap prank, etc. on me, there’d be a whole pile of stiffs right now.
I agree, I don’t see any silver lining here. I most definitely do not think this case is instructive for today’s bullies and victims of bullies. This is more of a saddening reminder of the festering, evil power of unforgiveness and self-righteousness, with self-justification of grossly, murderously disproportionate (and untimely!) response-in-kind aggression.
This is how evil gets started. For myself, I belong to a large and active high school alumni association with thousands of members going back to the original 1959 graduating class. The old “angst” issues are laughed at or ignored. We grew up. Our concern is seeing that our follow-ons at the old school profit by our examples; both good and bad! That’s what being an adult is all about. It’s a sad fact that some never quite achieve that status, even in their old age.
Seriously, (Stephen Mark Piiling) and if every school kid I took a part in pulling a prank on took revenge on me (we won’t even go into siblings) then I probably wouldn’t be here.
Has anyone noticed how bullies label their activities as harmless pranks? I bet their victims feel differently.
Which is where I see the silver lining. This is a striking example of how a “trivial” moment of cruelty in childhood can fester and warp many lives, and bullies need to understand that chaos theory applies, and that bad acts can have consequences beyond any reasonable calculation.
I was very impressed by a Jenny Jones talk show episode that featured adults who had been bullied or scorned as kids for being weak, small or unattractive confronting their tormenters in adulthood. What was so disturbing is that the bullied adults still were seething over their treatment, and worse, had warped their lives in response. The women were typically silicone-pumped, surgery and compulsive exercise created bimbos, who now worked as exotic dancers or show girls. The ex-bullied males were strutting bodybuilders and male strippers. These people had distorted their bodies and lives in reaction to slights that the now-grown up bullies no longer even remembered. This is the same syndrome as the murder, just a legal rather than a criminal result.
One returning victim was now a steroid-filled bodybuilder, who just spit fury and ridicule at his fat, middle-aged ex-tormenter. “So, are you impressed with the change in Paul?” Jenny asked the former bully. He shrugged. “No,” he said. “I thought he was a little creep then, and now I think he’s a muscular creep. he’s still a creep.” And indeed he was. The former victim looked like he had been shot.
Interesting story, Jack. Some former kids react to these travails in the way you describe. Others grow up, forgive and learn from these things to become better people. Hate on one side, proper guidance and God on the other. It’s really sad when the former bully ended up on the right side and the kid he tormented went so wrong.
And you don’t think that people who do this harrassment need to grow up?
Apparently this one did.
Bullies are often well liked, so the juries out on that one.
Are they?? News to me! In this case, though, we see a guy who disliked another kid in school, not because he was he was bigger and “could”, but because he thought the other kid was just a plain “creep”. And guess what? He was right. Want to bet that that opinion was common throughout their school? Some kids learn and cease to be creepy. Others become worse. For the rest of the story, look to the likely creepy household that the creepy kid sprang from! Kids are often the most merciless judges of their own. Where, indeed, does “bullying” end and popular disapprobation begin? And where were the parents and teachers to counsel the now-muscle bound, still-creepy ex-kid? Remember, you’re asking this of another ex-kid who had a tough time in school himself.
Are they?? News to me!
Wow. I thought you had some grip on reality.
In this case, though, we see a guy who disliked another kid in school, not because he was he was bigger and “could”, but because he thought the other kid was just a plain “creep”.
This doesn’t seem to be based on any facts. Pure supposition.
I’d call the rest pop psychology, but it isn’t even that. It’s meaningless.
I’m just going by what’s in the article. So are you.
No, you’re making unwarranted assumptions as an explanation of what’s in the article when their are any number of other possibilities.
Like I said, TGT. Going by the article, this is the logical conclusion.
I gotta bookmark this post as SMP’s understanding of logical conclusions.
According to SMP: if someone holds a grudge based on what you did to them when you were both kids, that means that you didn’t like them when you were kids because they were a creep.
I’ve never seen Jenny Jones but isn’t she the one who surprised a heterosexual, unstable person wth a gay secret admirer that led to a murder? Sounds like something not worth watching to me.
Yes, that was the end for Jenny. But those high school victims confront their tormenters shows were illuminating, if depressing.
For many years i carried grudges against the guys who use to bully me by kicking my ass on a regular basis in high school. And you know who it hurt ? Me. The best thing i ever learned was how to let all that BS go. Too bad this psychopath didnt.
Exactly. We’ve all had our thank-you-sir-can-I-have-another moments in life. I had more than my share in elementary (!) school because I grew like a weed and got picked on by the schoolyard rowdies because Miss Smart (our evil, Stalinist principal) wouldn’t let me deck one or two of them! Impossible situation. Maybe I’d still like to give a little punk named Jay (who probably ended up in Alcatraz) a swift kick in the britches, but KILL him? Half a century later?? How does a man hold a grudge like that all these DECADES against someone who was a wayward juvenile at the time? Insane. He should have gone to church more often.
I wonder how much moral difference there is between this and the attack on Mazar-i-Sharif.
Wisdom I’ve heard in AA meetings: nursing resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.
In this case, the resenter couldn’t wait any longer, decided to do it himself.
Is there any evidence of this? I mean, look at the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where the people there breed resentment against Jews and p[ass out candy to children in celebration every time there is a homicide bombing against the Jews.
Has their mental health suffered due to their resentment?
Do the Palestinians have their country back? Does it look likely that we’ll get a 2 state solution anytime soon or a safe single state with equal treatment? No. Instead, they’re worse off.
Sounds like your example bolster’s Curmudgeon’s point.
They made themselves worse off, TGT, by embracing terrorism. Murderous insanity is no basis for a state.