Sunday, January 29, 2006

Harvey Segment on Dateline

Just watched NBC’s Dateline segment on the Harvey murders. In short, it was nowhere near as sensational as I, and perhaps many others, feared it might be. The producers mostly handled it as an in-depth news story. They didn’t dwell on the lurid speculations all that much; the mourners weren't turned into a sideshow.

However, to see that Johnny Hott -- who was on camera the most -- was put through the wringer by the local investigators was yet another painful page to a bitter story. For Hott to have been squeezed and prodded by official inquisitors in the hard, hard days after he discovered Bryan, Kathy and their kids had been murdered was like something in a Kafka story.

Then there's this: OK, I know the cops will say the doer is usually a person close to the victims and how the guy who did the deed often calls in the alarm, too, but to have focused on Hott, exclusively, was crazy, if that's what that they did. The Dateline piece suggests that may have been the case.

So, like Johnny said in the report, one must wonder what would have happened to him if the two mad dogs arrested in Pennsylvania hadn’t just fallen into the cops’ laps? How much worse would it have gotten for Hott?

Some of the statements attributed by the media to the local police, made in the days after the murders, still don’t make sense to me, either. It seems like we were told things that weren’t exactly true. Why? Did the cops know they were spreading disinformation? Were they misquoted? Richmond’s new police chief, Rodney Monroe, needs to clear the air on this -- the sooner the better.

Chief Monroe: When you could have said, "We don't know if anything was stolen," why were we told nothing had been stolen? Why were we told the crime was personal, not random? Weren't we told that? What was the good of it? And, that gag order before arrests, whoever thought of that, wasn't that rather unusual? Looking back on it now, did that help or hurt the public's interest?

These are just quick thoughts. Rest assured, I’ll follow up on these concerns soon. Anyway, if nothing else, I’m glad Dateline gave Johnny Hott a chance to let people know what extra hell he went through.


Staff said...

I saw the piece too. I feel like sending a strongly worded note to the Philadelphia police.

The Jotter said...

I couldn't bear to watch it. Thanks for being my filter.

Anonymous said...

Hott may have overreacted. Kathryn's nephews and family in Virginia Beach were also DNA tested and had to come up with alibis. Everyone close to the family were suspects for awhile. I don't think he was singled out more than anyone else. He just fell into the initial suspects category.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous: "Overreacted." Well, I suppose many who knew and cared about the Harveys "overreacted" a bit in the scary days after the discovery of their mutilated bodies.

My quarrel with the police, if I have one, is not that they questioned Hott. No. What I want explained is why it seems the cops were telling us the culprits were not strangers to the Harveys, and why they deliberately put out what appears to have been misinformation, perhaps disinformation, based on that assumption. There may be some good reasons we haven‘t heard. Now I want to hear them.

In closing I must say "overreacted" sounds way too know-it-all to me, especially for one who tosses it out anonymously. It sounds rather like a glib remark about a predictable TV show about violent crime. Not real people.

Anonymous said...

Based on FBI profiling, it appeared on the surface to be a murder by someone they knew. What they were working with was no signs of a break-in, nothing missing that was obvious, and the vendetta-ness of the murder -- that three females, including small children, were included. Of course, none of that turned out to be the case, but that's why the neighborhood was initially told it was someone they knew. I say Hott "overreacted" because if he was keeping up with the news reports, he would have noticed the Virginia Beach relatives were also being grilled in the same way. No doubt Kathryn's sister was also feeling some heat when she refused comment.

The mystery now is why Dandridge and Grey committed such a violent crime and yet walked out of the house with so little. It seems it all boils down to a thrill killing more than a robbery, and since they didn't spray paint anything on the wall like the Manson crowd, the detectives couldn't detect it as such.

And I am anonymous because I don't want who I am to be an issue or a consideration. That would just open me up to personal attacks that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Libby said...

I couldn't bear to watch this either. Thank you also, for being my filter. To think that Johnny went through this.....good lord.