By FRED KRONER
For The Mahomet Daily
Full disclosure: I don’t know Richard Stover, nor do I know the entire history of his troubled background.
This much I do know.
The tragedy that ended Friday with his arrest for the murder of a 60-year-old relative, Betty J. Stover, did not start that day.
The tragedy began many, many years earlier.
There will be those who look at this sad situation only as the brutal death of a woman who didn’t deserve such a fate.
There is no argument there.
However, the bigger picture is one which society faces on a daily basis somewhere.
On Friday, that somewhere reached our hometown.
It can be traced back to a person’s addiction to drugs and the inability to escape the evil grip.
I was once good friends with a person who was victimized by his dependence
He would borrow money, beg for money, steal money, steal anything that could get him money, and it all went to feed his uncontrollable addiction.
During his lucid moments of sobriety, he acknowledged that he wanted to
change, that he needed to change, that he desired to change. He was tired
of battling the demons, whether real or perceived.
But he didn’t have the strength to resist, not for long.
He was consumed by the need for drugs.
They made him feel good. They helped him forget. They cleared his mind.
They blocked out the pain.
What may seem like excuses for using drugs seems like justification for
those who are hooked.
This much I have been told.
Stints in prison helped my friend come out clean, with a new outlook and a
And yet, many of the same friends he had previously remained in his life
and thus, their influence remained in his life.
It was only a matter of time before he returned to the lifestyle he knew,
the lifestyle which was comfortable for him.
Those who want to help, in a positive way, often don’t feel they have the
resources or knowledge to guide and make a difference.
It is an odd conundrum. The friends know a change is needed and that a
change is desired, but that knowledge is ineffective unless their friend
can also start the process of helping himself.
There is no condoning the criminal behavior when it occurs, but there is
a need to understand what precipitates it.
If you’ve lived with someone who fought addictions, if you’ve had a friend
or relative entrapped by the perils of substance abuse, you know the road
to recovery is littered with more failures than success stories.
Temptation is everywhere and no amount of monitoring can provide the
scrutiny needed from day-to-day to ensure that the short-term change can
become a permanent change.
These people are often ones we’ve known since childhood, ones whose
capabilities we know perhaps better than they know themselves.
My friend didn’t make it to his 40th birthday.
With his passing, a part of me died, too, because I was invested in his life and in facilitating the changes I know he wanted.
Too often we judge, based on an incident or an outcome, without realizing
or even recognizing why a person — why our society — has reached the
breaking point to where there was no other option but the path they chose.
I do not understand the why, but I understand the how.
While I do not know Richard Stover, I know too many people who have walked
a similar path in similar shoes.
In that regard, I feel I am not alone.
The problem is not reserved for the one individual in this case. The problem belongs to all of society.
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