Word Spreads About Steeles’ Tragedy

Every now and then, I’ll run a simple Twitter search for any post that mentions Highland Park. And as of early Wednesday evening, all but one Texas user on the list was Tweeting about the morning’s grisly stabbing.

Many of these were media sites, of course, including our own — but word’s obviously flying fast. To boot, a Google search for any recent news with the words “Highland Park” only generated articles about the Steele family.

Stay tuned.

51 thoughts on “Word Spreads About Steeles’ Tragedy

  • July 12, 2012 at 7:23 am
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    The 911 tapes are out and I made the huge mistake of listening to the first few seconds of the first one. I can’t stress enough how much I regret it. They should never have released those tapes. Most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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    When the police department releases a tape, there is no requirement for any news agency to publish it.

    The first one should not be published by anyone.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm
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    I echo Cigar Daddy’s sentiments. The most heart wrenching, chilling thing I’ve ever heard. There was no need whatsoever to release those.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm
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    Listening to any 911 tape is sick voyeurism.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm
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    It was a huge invasion of their privacy, whether legal or not. Whoever decided that it was OK to release the tapes is not well.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm
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    The release of the tapes is mandatory. Publishing them is not.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm
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    I agree the tapes are horrifying and should not be on the news but I must ask, are they allowed to post a 911 tape made by a minor? As I understand it, the first tape was of a minors 911 call and therefore the news should not be playing it.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm
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    @BigDaddy It’s legal but generally frowned upon.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm
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    I agree with all above that those tapes should have not been released. Please keep all children who know the Steele family from them. They are truly tragic.

    I also would like to initiate a petition to have the Park Cities People recant the unfortunate title they choose for their front page article reporting this tragedy. If you cannot recall it, I would hope that you publish an apology ASAP to the Steele family acknowledging your thoughtlessness.

    I believe that as a neighborhood newspaper reporting on a tragedy of this magnitude, where children are involved, it is your duty to exersized better judgement, show more grace and even compassion in situtations like this.

    As a family friend, I voice the opinion of many close to them that this family is and has been an integral part of our comminuty for years. They are and will always be very well regarded, loved and respected. They deserve our prayers, support, and care.

    I am surprised and frustrated by what I see as a total lack of judgement by this paper’s managing editor.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm
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    Someone sent my son the link and he made the huge mistake of listening to it. He is a friend of the son. I therefore listened to it to know what he had been exposed to. Chilling and disturbing don’t even begin to cover it.

    I agree with everyone else – they should not be published!

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  • July 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm
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    I had not seen the headline for the story in your paper and was prepared to discount Jennifer Royall as being overly sensitive…but after reading the headline…it’s ridiculous. It’s not even good writing, and yes, it is insensitive. If you are going to be insensitive, at least make it good.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm
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    What’s wrong with the headline? Did a suicide not follow a botched killing? Should it be sugar coated? Another way to phrase it would be “Suicide Follows Attempted homicide.” The 911 tapes are public records and their content is newsworthy. What is fortunate is that the son was able to divert the attempted killer before he finished what he set out to do. A man can lead a seemingly “normal” life prior to committing heinous acts that disqualify his classification as a good person.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm
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    Jennifer, I agree whole heartedly. PCPeople really used poor judgement.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm
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    I am a student at hp with the son who made the 911 call. I am furious with myself for listening to it. I can’t believe that this would be published on a public website. Kids my age and younger have access to the internet and can very easily listen to the tape. I didn’t realize how much it would impact me and I can only imagine the reactions of the friends listening to it. Its horrible. My prayers are with the Steele family at this time.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm
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    Yes, I agree that headline was sinister and sensationalized, rather than compassionate and sensitive. HEARTBREAK would have captured the sentiment of the community. Even if all facts were known and toxicology report complete, regardless of results, the title would remain inappropriate. I propose the writers consider their readers and use their craft for good, not for selling papers.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm
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    Your lead article headline is pretty harsh. While I understand you are a newspaper, you’re not the New York Times. You are the community’s newspaper and a little more taste would have been nice.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm
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    I heard the tapes and it’s horrifying. Hopefully the websites that posted them take them down. I know it’s my fault for listening to them, but I wish I hadn’t now. I can’t believe this happened. I feel so bad for the children (especially the 16 year old who had to witness everything). This whole thing is so awful. I will have the family and their friends in my thoughts. 🙁

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  • July 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm
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    I too was shocked when I saw the headline. With all the options available to PCP, that is such is such a crass and careless title. It hurts.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm
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    Add me to the list of folks who think you exercised terrible judgement with the headline! “Botched Killing” is a horrible description, even if technically correct, which I don’t think is possible because the facts are still being investigated. I know you were rushed to get it in because of the print deadline, but that doesn’t excuse it.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm
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    Until the complaints about the headline started appearing here (as well as in my inbox and on voicemails), I had only two regrets about this week’s paper:

    1. I regret printing the Steeles’ son’s name.
    2. I regret not removing the Yard Candy feature from a front page dominated by not only the Steele incident but also the death of James Harrison. Such a bright, happy story looks completely out of place surrounded by all that tragedy.

    But the headline complaints have me rethinking that decision too. I don’t have the Morning News’ Metro section in front of me, but I recall its headline being a quote about how surprising the incident was. The first paragraph of Andrew’s story went in that direction too, so we certainly could have written a headline reflecting the community’s shock. After all, it’s not like our headline was breaking the news to anyone; everyone in the Park Cities was aware of the story 24 hours before our papers started landing on lawns.

    But please believe me when I say that our headline was not an attempt to be “sensational” or “harsh,” and certainly not “sinister.” As with all headlines, we were just trying to be accurate.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm
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    It was an attempted murder and suicide – he was stopped from his homicidal intention, which does indeed qualify as a botched homicide attempt. THAT’S what happened so that is the news. People griping about the news vans “get out of our city!” griping about the NEWSpaper reporting the actual newsworthy event, griping about the 911 tape being released as it always is for a NEWS story – it makes me want to point out, the Bubble you live in is not an actual bubble people. This is how news is reported in the real world. Do not doubt yourself Dan, only doubt yourself if you cave to pressure to not report the news stories as they should be reported. If you soft pedal crimes – especially crimes of family violence – due to puffed up self important “friends” or parishioners then you should be second guessing your job. When I was reading the initial reports to my son, the ones that say “there was absolutely no warning”, my teenage son looked at me and said, somebody knew there was a problem. The method and severity might have been surprising, but I don’t believe nobody thought there was a problem. I hope that is true, and I hope the news will follow thru and report on the details when they come to light. If it was drugs, ongoing family tensions, money or whatever it was, the kids of our community would benefit from the facts. Otherwise it’s just a super religious, perfect son, husband and father went on a deadly rampage for absolutely no reason and no warning – that means every kids daddy could do it, maybe even tonight. I don’t believe that’s the case. So please Dan, report the facts when they’re available. That is what the community needs. Even if they’re kicking and screaming now that they want silence and denial.

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  • July 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm
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    I agree with KK. The news must be reported accurately. Mental illlness most likely was the cause and the father lost touch with reality. This has to be investigated and confirmed. The son is a true hero and showed amazing courage.. All 911 tapes in my opinion should be private. New laws are needed to protect out privacy. My heart breaks for this family.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 12:17 am
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    no one is asking for ‘silence’ or ‘denial’, simply respect for those living and enduring this pain. Kk, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, just as I’m entitled to mine. That’s the real power of a free press.

    Thanks Dan for your reply above. Adding some sensitivity to your quest for accuracy would be good in the future.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 12:47 am
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    It is heartening to find that most respondents on this blog had the same reaction I did to this front-page headline, which completely sickened me. While you can argue that it is not completely inaccurate, it is indefensible in its sensationalist bias and negative connotation, and will certainly be nearly impossible for the Steele children and their friends to miss as it sits proudly in newstands around town for the next week. To KK: as HP Police Sargent Lance Koppa has accurately reported, there was NO prior history of violence in this family, period. KK apparently has it all figured out, deciding immediately that Mr. Steele had “homicidal intentions.” Really? How do you presume to know his intentions? We do NOT have all the information available, as toxicology results are pending, and there remains the very real possibility of a condition such as drug-induced psychosis, which can occur from prescription meds (such as sedatives and those for tx. of Parkinson’s) and can include auditory or visual hallucinations and/or delusions, and the end result can be strange behaviors, paranoia, and even violence – & can occur in a person with no history.

    So, while coverage of this story was expected, the Park Cities People’s sensationalism and “rush to judgement” mentality was in extremely poor taste and showed complete insensitivity to family members who have already suffered enough from this tragic event. I do feel that an apology to the family and the community are warranted, and hope that future findings and toxicology reports will be handled with much greater sensitivity and professionalism by the newspaper which proudly refers to itself as “the best weekly newspaper in Texas.”

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  • July 13, 2012 at 6:22 am
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    my first reaction after reading the word botched was to cancel my subscription. PCP and staff work hard to portray themselves as a member of our community and this was a betrayal of the trust built. Its like a close friend saying bad things about you to others after you have confided in them. We have to remember PCP is a business first and if they learn something newsworthy about our community it will will be front page news.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 10:09 am
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    July 13 headline. I thought I was looking at the cover of the National Enquirer this morning. Shame on you! What were you thinking?? Of course the tragedy on Wednesday morning was front page news, but there are still so many unanswered questions and unknowns in the sad, sad story. To make it sound so heinous and ugly is cruel and unfair to the family and the entire situation. I don’t know them, but they are part of our community and they don’t deserve this headline. If your paper wants to be a part of the community, you must have at least a little heart. The details are the details, but the headline was tasteless and inexcusable. Where was the editorial review? It makes me wonder if I want to continue subscribing to a community newspaper that has so little regard for the feelings of the community. I hope you are receiving lots of comments like mine!

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  • July 13, 2012 at 10:45 am
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    My wife and I have discussed this and although we were both born and raised in the Park Cities, and as long as we have lived here, have subscribed to this newspaper – we will be canceling our subscription. This paper used to be a community newspaper, and has evolved into another tabloid. Examples don’t just include this headline, which is insensitive and base, but the general writing and editorials have become material suitable for the rack next to the register at the grocery store. Tabloid journalism has a place in society, I guess, but I miss the community paper. I already receive Paper City on my doorstep (for some reason), and I don’t need to pay for another weekly “rag”.

    Someone ought to consider starting a new paper for this area – that meets the old standards of neighborhood reporting.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 11:33 am
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    My heart goes out to the Steele family and friends, particularly their children. However, beating up the local paper isn’t going to make this hurt go away.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 11:34 am
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    @former, I think your comments about PCP are harsh . Yes their headline should have been edited, but, they have a. Apologized and b. they are a newspaper and should report the good as well as the bad.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 11:43 am
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    Dan, you say you wanted to be “accurate.” Mr. Steele may have attacked his wife, but how can anyone possibly know what his intent was? “Botched” implies deliberate action. He may have had zero understanding of what he was doing. It’s just too early to draw conclusions.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm
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    Parkie sums up the headline problem perfectly. The headline assumes facts not yet shown to be accurate.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm
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    Parkie/Rock, you’re right. He could have been trying to trim her hair or hem her clothes (with her still wearing them) with a knife while she slept. It’s always so tricky to divine what someone is meaning to do when they attack you with a knife while you sleep.

    Whether he is criminally responsible or not is a moot question because A> he’s dead and B> it’s not a question of criminal responsibility it’s a question of what happened. He DID try to kill her, whether he succeeded or not. He then committed suicide.

    To soft-pedal this type of thing because he was an HP resident/”upstanding citizen” is exactly the kind of protectionism/bubble-behavior that people criticize the park cities for.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm
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    Formersubscriber – there already is another community newspaper, The Park Cities News. It is the original PC community newspaper. I subscribe to both papers and the PCN definitely has the neighborhood feel that you might be lookng for.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm
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    Also a Parkie – scarcasm in light of what has happened says much about you. You might want to consider withholding judgment until all the facts are known. If not, you could apply for a job writing headlines.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm
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    a. I agree that while the incident was certainly newsworthy and should be on the front page, a more sensitive headline wouldn’t have hurt the papers integrity. Dan Koller admitted as much, and I certainly don’t see it as anything more than a mis-step on PCP’s part
    b. For those of you who want a “community” paper, the obvious answer is to have the Community League start a paper.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm
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    FormerSubscriber – there are alternatives such as Park Cities News (print) and ParkCities.BubbleLife.com (website and daily newsletter).

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  • July 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm
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    Based on all available public information – including the wife’s 911 call** – the headline is factually accurate. Get over it, people. It was a terrible tragedy, but there is nothing misleading or sensational about that headline.

    Remember when we all laughed at the rabid pro-EDS commenters over at Preston Hollow People during the Jane Doe trial – you know, the ones who told Claire and the rest of the PCP folks they were being sensational, unfair, shouldn’t be covering it at all, this is our house, etc. etc.? Don’t become the people we were mocking nine months ago.

    **Direct quote from the wife’s 911 call: “‘My husband is trying to stab me with a knife,’ Mrs. Steele told the dispatcher. ‘And then he tried to stab himself with the knife. Please hurry.'”

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  • July 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm
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    Rest assured, most of these folks will blame whatever shows up in his toxicology report, whether it’s Ambien or methamphetamine. This guy could could do no wrong. If his toxicology report is clean, then they will blame an undiagnosed mental illness or the devil himself.

    You know, like when a crackhead robs a 7-11 to feed his addiction, and the public lets him off the hook and blames the substance or his mental condition.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm
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    @Neal, she said “stab” and not “kill.” Huge distinction. The only people who know what really happened were in that house at 4:30 a.m., and one of them will never by able to explain his actions. 911 tapes and police statements are not the entire story.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm
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    Neal – You only know public info available that is not the whole truth. The headline was completely and totally inappropriate and uncalled for. As was said earlier, publicly we do not know motive or intent or have the toxicology report. The headline “botching killing” does imply intent. Until all the facts are released the newspaper could have used more discretion.
    I will not be purchasing a Park Cities People again.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm
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    @Another perspective: I find your analogy ridiculous, not to mention heartless.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm
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    @Parkie: Good point. I often “stab” sleeping family members with absolutely no intention to “kill”. A huge distinction, as you said.

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  • July 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm
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    I know! The paper says right on it “This is the whole truth based on all facts public or private, known or unknown at the time of writing.” How could they print something based only on what is publicly known, given that?

    Oh wait

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  • July 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm
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    You people are unbelievable. Even the police are saying he tried to kill his wife but failed to do so and then killed himself just as the headline states. If he had indeed succeeded in killing her and then survived himself you all would still be singing his praises and proclaiming his innocence. Face it, there are some screwed up people in this world that no matter how nice and upstanding you think they are they really can harbor some deep dark secrets. This is the real world and not just some storybook fantasy land.

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  • July 14, 2012 at 8:20 am
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    Park Cities People, I think it’s time to close this conversation between everyone. The opinions and comments are no longer necessary.
    Their two children need to be respected and enough is enough with comments, although some are kind and considerate, the others will only do damage to the family as they are all trying to pull together as to what happened that night.

    Please out of respect for the Steele family, close this blog.

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  • July 14, 2012 at 9:59 am
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    At the end of the day, I don’t believe the newspaper article’s headline or content was sensationalized. Both accurately described what was known at the time. If his toxicology report offers an explanation or excuse for his conduct, then that information should be reported with equal publicity. If he was prescribed Ambien prior to the night in question, and he took the drug as prescribed, his actions might be at least more understandable.

    Here is some information regarding the “Ambien defense,” which has been used as an excuse for various types of “criminal” conduct by those under the influence of the drug: http://weeksmd.com/2010/12/the-ambien-defense-getting-away-with-murder/

    To be fair, it is too early to condemn the man. But it is also inappropriate to withhold information based upon the assumption that he was incapable of wrondoing simply because he appeared to be a pillar of the community or was a member of a particular church or organization.

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  • July 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm
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    Ambien can whack out people. Strange behavior with no memory of the event. It is a powerful sedative-hypnotic.

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  • July 17, 2012 at 9:40 am
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    After moving to Austin and then Colorado Springs, I am still fond of the Park Cities and follow the news to see what everyone is up to and how their children are doing. When first hearing of this tragedy, I immediately wanted to know that the survivors were safe and knew that the HP community would protect its own. How disappointing to have this forwarded to me and see that not only were they not safe in their own neighborhood from shame, it was put out there for all of their classmates and anyone old enough to read a headline to see. So much for a “neighborhood” newspaper. This sickens me.

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  • July 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm
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    Violence is the sickness.

    The last comment by Andrea Dz bothers me. It is just this “protect its own” policy that encourages violence to continue unchecked in the darkness.

    I look for something positive to come from any situation. Maybe others who are in violent relationships will have the courage to get out of the violence.

    It is the “protecting its own” mind set that allowed the Penn State abuse case to go on for years. It is the “protect its own” mindset that allowed violence to continue against children in cases like the Omaha Boys Town child sex ring. People protected their own and the ones that lost were the victims who could not protect themselves.

    Those children should harbor no shame. The son showed great courage in saving his mother.

    Violence grows in silence and darkness.

    When the Park Cities had requests go out for ideas for topics for smaller groups in the PCP singles group, one of the most requested smaller groups was one addressing domestic violence.

    I applaud the PCP for addressing this tragic event.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 9:08 am
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    My statement was made in regard to the survivors. In a small community, such as HP, I would hope that there could be compassion for the survivors. The children and their classmates should not have to see this headline everywhere.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm
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    The reason the paper shouldn’t use the word ‘botched’ is the same reason why they shouldn’t/wouldn’t use crass terms to describe a physical attack. Or name body parts in crass terms. Why? Because of common decency and the knowledge that children live in our community and see the headlines. The fact is that the grieving Steele family and friends PLUS every single one of our children (who can read) can see the headline of the paper. As a courtesy to community parents in having to explain this tragedy to their children, better language could have been chosen. The paper doesn’t have to be sensational to report the news accurately, and they know that -particularly news that is already so tragic and heart wrenching for the poor family, who are already suffering. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. Do us right in the future, PCP, okay?

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