Friday, September 25, 2009

The Lessons of Flight 93 - Reprise

On 11 September this year I posted a blog about Flight 93 and how we should learn from the actions of the passengers. We should take primary responsibility for our own safety and try to defend ourselves. I would like to comment further on that because of something that has just happened in my home state of Oregon. Authorities finally found the body of Brooke Wilberger.

In 2004 Wilberger was a 19-year-old college student, home for the summer. She disappeared from the apartment complex where she was doing some cleaning. Finally, over five years later, her killer confessed and described how he abducted her by threatening her with a knife. The killer was careful to place his van so it blocked the view of the abduction. Some in the area heard Wilberger's scream but saw nothing. As a result he was able to bind her with tape, put her in his van, and leave with nobody knowing what had happened.

The killer described how Wilberger fought him when he raped her and said that was when he decided to kill her. He claimed he would not have murdered her had she not fought so hard. If true, that is unusual. Rapist-killers usually want to see their victims suffer, and fighting won't change that. I am reluctant to accept statements from such criminals at face value.

What I do believe is a statement from a retired police captain. CW Jensen has a regular time as an expert on KXL, a local radio station. According to him, the time to fight an abductor is before he gets you into his car. Once you are in that vehicle it is much more difficult to do anything, especially if you are bound and gagged. Potential victims should do all they can to avoid being put into a criminal's car, even at the risk of injury.

Captain Jensen mentioned that he's seen lots of people survive knife wounds, even serious wounds. Many even survive gunshot wounds. However once an abductor gets you into an isolated area with your hands taped, you are usually helpless. He recommends not only screaming but also running like hell to escape. Even if the criminal shoots at you, it is difficult to hit a moving target and most criminals are not trained marksmen. Besides, the noise of a gunshot will attract more attention than will a scream.

Jensen's recommendations make sense, plus he has decades of experience dealing with criminals to back up his beliefs.

We cannot know what would have happened had Wilberger fled when threatened with that knife. Maybe she would have been killed on the spot but I think it more likely she would have escaped, perhaps after being cut. However we do know what happened because the criminal was successful in getting her into his van. Had she fled, even had she been stabbed and bled to death on the spot, that would have been preferable to the pain he inflicted before killing her.

Fortunately crimes such as the kidnapping, rape and murder of Brooke Wilberger are rare. Most of us will never have to make such decisions. However just the idea of being prepared to fight for our own lives and safety will help us should that happen, and will also help defend against other crimes. If a criminal has a gun and only wants our money, we should give it to him. Our lives are worth more. However if he tries to abduct us or to violently assault us we are usually better off to resist, fleeing if possible or fighting if that is all we can do. Such resistance will not only give us a better chance, it will give police a better chance of catching the criminal.

A personal note: I'm afraid I'll have to reduce the number of blogs I write in order to free up time for other things. Starting next week I will probably only write two a week, most likely posting them on Tuesdays and Fridays.

If you like my blog, please tell others.
If you don't like it, please tell me.

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