Big Crimes On the Prairie

You may have heard about the tragedy this weekend in Castle Rock Colorado.  A wife and mother of five children was fatally stabbed allegedly by her estranged husband.  Her and her children had recently moved in with relatives in CastleRock to escape an abusive situation. While they haven’t released the names of the people involved, I do know who it is.  Although the actual murder happened in the Front Range area, TheLady was from the Colorado prairie. She had umpteen children of her own and some of them were my children’s ages.  She was a semi-local acquaintance.  My heart breaks for her and her children. May her soul forever rest in peace.  May these children somehow be comforted and consoled.

A tragedy like the recent murder of TheLady hits us all especially hard. She was a resident of the Colorado prairie, and we mourn for her.  She was one of our own.

I always thought that stuff like that didn’t happen out here.  I was wrong.  And when tragedy does strike, we feel it deeper here.  We have very few people out here and we all know one another. For example, March 2011 was probably the worst month ever in Lincoln County history.

On March 9, 2011, Limon police officer Jay Sheridan was fatally shot in the line of duty. This was in Limon. We’re not talking a crime filled area. He was serving an arrest warrant for an individual that really didn’t want to go back to prison.  He pushed his fellow officers out of the way.  The man shot him.  Officer Sheridan’s little girl was less than two years old.  The trailer that this happened in still stands, a sad reminder every time I drive by.  I didn’t know Officer Sheridan well, but I rung up his coffee most every night when I worked as a cashier at Flying J. I pray for Officer Sheridan and his family.

On March 26, 2011, another Lincoln County resident stopped to help a driver after the driver was hit by a driver.  The driver circled back and ran her over, killing her.  I pray for her.

On March 27, 2011, a wonderful couple, Chuck and Laura Claggett, was fatally shot by their great grandson in their own bed.  He left them there and his crime wasn’t discovered until a few days later when he had a car accident and the police tried to notify his great grandparents. Chuck and Laura lived in their own little house on the prairie, very very close to here.  My blood boils, still, every time I drive by their homesite (they since burned down the house, as it stood as a grim reminder). I pray for them and I pray for their great grandson.

When we look back to March 2011 or the recent murder of TheLady, we grieve very deeply for our Lincoln County family.  We are reminded that big crimes happen even in little houses on the prairie. We’re not immune to it here, although it seems we almost should be. With less than 5000 non-inmate people spread out in a county geographically bigger than the state of Delaware, it’s almost like we’re one big family. There is an unspoken comraderie on the prairie. My neighbors and pretty much all of Lincoln County have my back. I can count on them. There is a bond here like no other place. I just really can’t even put it into words. It’s a phenomena of a small town (or smally populated county, even if geographically big).  That’s why these despicable acts hits us all especially hard.

Big crimes happen on the prairie.  And they shouldn’t.


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