Warning: Photographs (at bottom) might be disturbing to some.
Last Wednesday, I followed my daughter, Kari, with my Victim Impact Statement to the Parole Board. Her words were so powerful… so heart-wrenching… so compelling… so real, that I wondered if mine were really necessary. Well, at least if they were necessary for the Parole Board, that is. She has a wonderful habit of making me proud of her, yes, but she was in unfamiliar, hostile territory.
I couldn’t help but worry.
She stood up, walked confidently to her big brother, placed her hand on his left shoulder, and showed courage that is undeniable. Her loyalty to her brother was best expressed by what she said to me just before, “He’d do the same for me”.
I just respect Kari so much. She makes my heart melt with love and admiration.
I needn’t have worried because, I’m telling you, as she spoke it was a something to behold. From start to finish! I wondered how Austin Vantrease could ever live with himself. What lie must he tell himself when he looks in the mirror? How could he not be intensely embarrassed and ashamed to show his face in public? How could his parents (Bob & Gale Vantrease, of Newark, Delaware) and his siblings not be humiliated by him either? He surely must understand how others will think of him, right?
He might hope to outrun, distort, or hide from his past.
He is a felon… and a violent one, at that. One that wounded another so tragically that human redemption is not possible in this world. He crossed a line where there’s no coming back over. The best he could have hoped for in his lifetime was to just break-even, but he opted otherwise these past 4-⅔ years. He can never balance the scales. They will never be in his favor; not on this planet, anyhow. Precious time was squandered. Wasted! Time continues to run out on him. It always runs out and there’s no getting it back. Did his parents tell him that bit of advice as the seconds ticked away?
How does anyone who’s inflicted such injury… such evil… such harm… possibly justify their life?
Yep, Kari made this all crystal clear… but was he listening?
No matter that she stole the show, I had plenty that I wanted to say. I relished that Austin Vantrease and his family were a captive audience. It might very well be my last chance with that crew, I surmised.
As for Austin’s family, well, I listened to his mother’s (Gale Vantrease) statement. To me, she threw her own pity-party. Still, true to form, she missed the point entirely… that it was being held for her violent, felon son. She tried to mask her true intent. It seems she really doesn’t like me, the popularity of this website, and those who follow Ryan. I actually wrote about the same damned thing two years ago when she spoke at that parole hearing.
What can I say, some people never learn, even when their flat-out told how! Those that lack both hindsight and foresight, I suppose.
Allow me to give you two examples (and I’m paraphrasing her, as I interpreted her). I listened to that all-to-familiar passive-aggressive spiel. Essentially the same as I heard so many times before:
- Gale Vantrease spoke of how Austin — and her family — have been much maligned, primarily online. She claimed they chose not to go that route and focus on the positives. Really? Positives? Could someone please tell me what she could possible be meaning, at least when it comes to Ryan and my family? Also, I am convinced that she outright lied. If she didn’t lie then …what? Did she completely forget about their sad excuse for a website (now likely shutdown… in a future post I’ll tell you why!)? You know, the one with false claims that Ryan was “drunk”. The same website were, despite medical forensics [source: Ruby Memorial Hospital] to the contrary, they conveyed that Ryan used marijuana that night. Sure, she might feel “maligned”, but I’m merely forming — and sharing — my opinions from the factual evidence, observed behavior, and personal experiences. If they don’t enjoy this characterization than I suggest they changed their approach.
- She whined about her family members’ being called “monsters”, then played the martyr by saying if it helps Ryan then they are fine with it. To this, I say, we neither are seeking nor needing her approval. The Bill of Rights protects my freedom of expression, but they should have already known that since a federal judge already ruled in my favor when they filed to shut down this website. The key thing is I mustn’t ever knowingly and willingly lie about them… or anything, for that matter. That’s libel, and it’s illegal. Now, I don’t remember ever calling anyone a monster myself, but I sure-as-hell might have done so. After what Austin Vantrease did to my son, make no mistake about it: I see — and believe — he is a pure-bred monster. As for Austin’s parents, they have given me every reason to think of them as ineffective, destructive, enabling, and excusing parents. Simply put, I think they are bad parents. Their offspring is certainly compelling proof, Austin Vantrease not withstanding.
Geez… and there are actually a few people who wonder why so many deeply distrust and harbor anger toward them! I certainly do.
[Article resumes below interview video]
In Case You Missed It… My interview in prison lot after parole hearing.
[Continuation of Article]
Anyhow, back to the today’s original purpose. So sorry about getting sidetracked with my soapbox rantings.
I gave my Victim Impact Statement, which was largely taken from articles I’ve written over time on this website. To quickly summarize it for you, I:
- …called-out Austin Vantrease for his lack of remorse and accountability (except when it benefits him, like the Parole Hearing).
- …criticized Austin Vantrease’s support system (i.e., family and friends) as aggressive and not viable… even risky.
- …emphasized the outcry from 161,000-plus citizens that they aren’t ready for such a violent felon reintroduced in society.
- …spoke of the relentless impact on my family.
- …recited a passage from my wife, Sue, written in April 2012, called In Search of Answers.
- …briefly detailed the damage to me mentally and physically, and
- …told of Ryan: As he was… his potential… and as he is now… and what might become of him.
After wrapping-up my statement I handed the Board a stack documents for their consideration during deliberations.
Included were: 1) a multi-page printout from the Vantrease website and social media, 2) a formal letter to the entire Vantrease-contingent putting all on notice for liable, 3) a report of the Anti-Parole petition, and 4) selected photographs of Ryan. As for the latter, I actually had to keep myself from giving some pictures that I thought might be too difficult understand (or see).
I want to share these photographs — the same that I gave to the Parole Board — with you. Again, some might be upsetting. There are seven slides in all. You can click-through them, or just let them advance automatically.