Sunday, January 13, 2013

Choices and Vi Menn

When I opened the email from Johan Jensen last summer, I was intrigued. Why would a reporter from Norway want to talk with me? Why an article about the Green River murder case now? And why for a Norwegian men's magazine?

I went on line to check out Johan Jensen and the magazine he writes for: Vi Menn. I don't read Norwegian, but I have to admit that I was put off by the photographs of  bare-breasted women. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I asked my Norwegian-American friend about Vi Menn. Kim assured me that men don't read Vi Menn in dark rooms. "In fact there's a women's edition that my relatives send me," she said.

Still, I was faced with another of life's difficult choices. I'd written a book about my sister's death at the hands of the Green River Killer. I could no longer crawl into a hole and pretend it had never happened. Now I realized that writing about the horror and pretending that the act of writing was so cathartic that I could leave the pain behind me was also a lie. I decided that my best option was to continue to talk and write about my sister and the other Green River victims in hopes of building awareness about the multitude of issues surrounding violence against women and sex trafficking.

Decision made, I met Johan Jensen on a beautiful sunny July day at a coffee shop on lower Queen Anne, here in Seattle. It was a comfy and casual conversation about mass murder, police screw-ups, plea bargains and capital punishment. We talked of justice: retribution vs. rehabilitation. And we struggled to define prostitution and sex trafficking as I explained that even today, almost three decades later, I still get that your-sister-was-a-prostitute look when I mention that my sister was a Green River victim.

At one point in the conversation, right about when I was ripping into Dave Reichert and why I thought he was a total ass who capitalized on the case to build a political career even though he wasn't the one who nailed Gary Ridgway, in walked two of Seattle's finest in dark navy, shiny badges, guns at the hip. They chose a table so close we could've held hands. Johan looked at me, a do-you-want-to-continue question in his eyes. I shrugged and kept talking. I don't know what those cops overheard or thought of our conversation, and frankly I don't care.

I can only guess at bits and pieces of what Johan Jensen wrote in his article, on-line translations leaving much to the imagination, but it was a pleasure to meet him, and I thank him for his interest in the lives of the Green River victims. For those of you who are able to read Norwegian, here's a link to Jensen's article: Jakten på skyggejegeren