Justice Fatigue: It’s a Thing and it Happens to Many of Us

Epstein is dead. I did not see that coming. Sometimes I am so naïve. I think good things happen to people who are good. I think the bad guy gets caught. I might as well add unicorns and fairies to my list because I’m clearly delusional. I heard one Epstein victim anger crying this morning because she’ll never get to face him and hold him accountable. Kinda relatable.

This justice thing is exhausting.

I don’t have to tell the thousands of you out there who are still pursuing answers for your cold cases, your rape, or your abuser that the pursuit of justice is tiring. I follow many of you on Twitter and I watch and support your efforts to keep hope alive: to fight for answers, seek justice, pursue the truth. But it can be so slow and painful and sometimes we just want to give up.

I totally get it. I lived 20 years thinking my dad and Charlene were killed by a local. Someone in their world who had had enough. Maybe a boyfriend of Charlene’s. Maybe a business deal where my dad was just a bit too clever and screwed someone over. Never did I think it was a stranger; that it was not motivated by passion or jealousy or anger. Low and behold, it turned out to be a demon. Pure evil. Or was it?

Oddly I have spent this summer binging on horror movies.

Some have been really good and some have been awful (my little list below). All of them, for me, have been funny. That’s because I don’t believe in demons. I don’t. Having lived for almost another 20 years in fear of an unknown assailant, who had eluded the law and managed to hurt so many people, I’ve had my fill of fear.

I do think, maybe, there are monsters. Sociopaths who don’t belong with the rest of us. People who have no empathy, sympathy or connection to others. I suspect they do have feelings, but they aren’t like the feelings we have. I suspect their feelings are more like a hunger or compulsion to do the evil they do. And whether or not the monster has been caught, all the waiting is so damn cruel.

I think that’s what makes “justice fatigue” so much harder.

Justice presumes the bad person will get what he or she deserves. That’s a good outcome for normal fuck-ups. Humans make mistakes – sometimes bad ones – and there should be consequences. As I write this time is still ticking on an acquaintance who committed several bank robberies and crossed state lines in the melee and he’s still serving his 35 years. Basically, his whole adulthood. Ironically, he’s at peace with the consequence. Hopefully he’ll be paroled next year and he has every intention of quietly trying to make a contribution and live a good life. That’s how it should work.

Instead, whether we are searching for or have arrested a real monster – DeAngelo, Epstein, this trash human in El Paso – justice turns into an obscene dance that’s about everyone else except the monster and the victims. For those with a vested interest, I don’t know, say like the victims, it becomes an uncomfortable journey of hearings, news stories, missing the point, speculation, and fatigue. And this is what happens when someone gets caught. We know there are many, many others out there who haven’t been arrested. Some are monsters and some are just really bad people.

I don’t have a remedy, but I encourage you not to give up.

Justice fatigue, regardless of whether or not your crime has been solved, is just that. Instead of drowning in it, I encourage you to name it, put it in a jar and set it on the shelf. For many of us, we might not get the answers we seek. But I assure you, if your intentions are honest and your efforts sincere, you’re creating energy that helps us all. I am buoyed by those who won’t give up. We all have days when a pity party is justified. But when you’re done being sad and frustrated, get back to work.

If you need help, join me on Twitter @jcarole. There’s a whole squad there who fight through justice fatigue every damn day.

Jen’s Little List of Summer 2019 Horror Movies on Netflix

The Perfection: cello music and rage

Woman in Black 2: period piece, good story

The Autopsy of Jane Doe: thriller, autopsies

American Hangman: Donald Sutherland slays it, some cheese

The Rite: gorgeous Italy, devil stuff

The Endless: weird cult stuff with a monster

Now your turn – what else should I watch?!

The Day of the Arrest: How I Learned DeAngelo Had Been Caught

The week before DeAngelo’s arrest, I had worked a trade show called RSAC. It’s the biggest cybersecurity show in the US. It happens in San Francisco and I did it while on a crutch (busted up leg) and launching a huge PR campaign. The cover image is from one of our event buttons – it just happens to fit here. It freaking rocked and I worked my fingers to the bone. I needed a little time off to do laundry and recover from the previous week. Rest. That was my goal. Rest. Had no idea an arrest was imminent and they’d lay me off the day after I would see him for the first time

My “old” life. Right before DeAngelo was arrested, this book I edited by cyber criminologist Mike McGuire from Surrey, was a stone cold success at RSAC. I am still so proud of it. Cybercrime isn’t going away, sad to say, it will get worse.

Queue blissful morning music gently waking me from my deep slumber.

I was sleeping-in on Wednesday, April 25th. Usually up around 6:30am, on this day, I got to sleep-in. Around 8:30 I was awake enough to grab my phone and check messages. There was a text from Lisa.

“Could this really be him?” she asked. It was followed by a link to a news story.

“Hmmm,” I replied with no commitment. I headed to Twitter.

This message from Lisa was the first moment I heard about DeAngelo.

There the story was blowing up. He was in custody and law enforcement was feeling pretty darn confident. I started shaking. My hands could barely hold my phone. I sent a text to my family and then called my mom. She wasn’t really firing on all cylinders yet and if she had heard, it hadn’t registered.

“They caught him,” I told her.

“What? Who? What are you talking about?” mom said. I always talk too fast for my mom. Especially when we first start the conversation.

“The Golden State Killer, or East Area Rapist. Mom. Our guy. They caught him. After all these years, he’s in custody.” It was weird to say it. “I gotta get up. This is nuts. It’s all over the news. I sent a message to the boys.” We talked a bit more and then I hit the shower. I put on decent clothes but nothing fancy. I expected the phone calls to come in and lots of “ohmigods” and “can you believes” but I didn’t expect things to blow-up like they did.

First things first. Trust but verify. Like any true crime lawyer’s daughter would do.

First, I called the Ventura police to see if they would just confirm we had the right guy. I talked with an investigator who assured me it was a good arrest (did he say that or do I just watch way too much Law and Order?). Anyway, it didn’t matter because the Ventura District Attorney, Gregory Totten, called me a few minutes later and told me what I have wanted to hear my whole adult life. Since science had already solved this case through DNA, all we needed was the human.

“We got him and it’s a 100% match,” he said.

“You’re kidding. It’s true? He’s the guy?” I was shaking again. Actually, pretty sure I didn’t stop shaking that day until around 11pm.

“He’s the guy. Watch the press conference at noon. I’ll talk to you soon,” and he was off to do District Attorney things.

After that I did something I hadn’t done since my dad died. I decided to use my real name to shout victory. I merged Jennifer Carol Smith (Jenny) and Jennifer Carole (grown-up) into one person in my online social media and suddenly everyone knew who I was. With the speed that accompanies social media, the journalists figured it out and headed to Santa Cruz. Since I once owned a baby bib company (Big Bellies, it was fun, made no money but suited my entrepreneurial spirit), my address wasn’t all that hard to find. I also got phone calls; so did my mom. I had gotten rid of my landline a few years ago so I was a little harder to find than I used to be, but mom managed to forward calls to me rather easily.

A pause for the cause. A few feelings got in through the craziness.

Before the press conference and after just one interview, the tears finally came. I’m pretty sure it was relief. I’m not sure how the others feel, and I was never called or harassed after-the-fact by DeAngelo, but I did live in fear. Especially when I found out he was a serial killer and I had just had a baby. In fact, after coming back home from an Unsolved Mysteries episode, I got a dog. A hypo-allergenic dog that was going to protect us. Daisy. Unfortunately, I was way more mental than I had thought and the puppy crying flipped me back into a postpartum mess and I had to give my little Daisy to a friend. Daisy was renamed Phoebe and turned out to be a wonder-dog that made my friend Patty’s mom (and everyone else including the neighborhood) amazingly happy.

Little Daisy who became Phoebe and a neighborhood hero.

Instead, I had to deal with the fear pragmatically. I was always vigilant and aware of my surroundings. I went to self-defense classes and took Katie as well. I made sure I knew who was home during the day and which house Katie was could run to if there was ever any danger. But I guess one doesn’t really understand the hold fear has on you until it’s gone. In the moments after Totten told me DeAngelo was a 100% DNA match, I felt relief. Tremendous relief. They got him. He was behind bars.

The press was here that day until pretty late. With so many reporters around, the atmosphere was collegial and collaborative. Folks made time for one another and helped me feel at ease. It was about 11pm when I realized I hadn’t eaten at all – funny thing adrenaline. It really is a great appetite suppressant. As I lay in bed that night I realized the day had been a lot like the day Gary found dad and Charlene. Chaotic, busy and no chance to really know how I felt.

But when I finally got in bed I realized I did know. I felt good. Satisfied. Resolved. He was in jail. And a chapter we never expected was just beginning.

[Note: I’ve started a podcast and you can grab it from Apple iTunes and SoundCloud. Why would you want to listen to what you just read? I am finding there’s stuff I want to chat about that’s hard to capture in writing. And I figured out how to do it so why not? Finally, it drives my mom and kid nuts when I walk around reminding them to listen to my podcast. There are so few opportunities to torment your family members, how could I resist! My goal, if I’m not traveling, is to post a podcast within 24 hours of a blog post.]

This is a Skype interview with an LA station I used to watch as a kid! KTLA down south. My goal is to see if I can get anyone on the other end to crack-up. I do think I got them laughing.
Yes, my house. Remarkably clean for me. I know some of you will look closely so that’s Gary’s wedding in the upper right and Jay’s wedding by the camera lens. Another friend’s wedding picture is in view. Cat crap everywhere. And Gumby – he was once held for ransom at a company called Borland. That Gumby has been abused by so many. The eagle is named Mueller.
Kind of loved the relationship between the camera folks and the reporters. I tried to get him to smile. Seriously. But nah. This interview crossed over to Telemundo!