The Narrative

It doesn't matter whether Angela Harrison, the woman whose abusive estranged husband brutally murdered their five children and killed himself, was "leaving her husband for another man."

It doesn't matter because cheating, or leaving, or asking for a divorce, or saying "I think we need some time apart," doesn't cause someone to murder. It doesn't "ignite" anything, any more than what a woman is wearing "causes" a rapist to rape.

Nonetheless, let's examine the most basic thing about narrative that dominates all the stories I've seen about this tragedy (that of a selfish, uncaring mother who left her happy home to go have fun with another man): Is it true?

By her account: No.

From this morning's Seattle Times:
On Friday morning, she left for work at the Indian Country Store in Puyallup, where a male co-worker urged her to get away from her husband. She said she had told him previously about years of physical and verbal abuse she and the children had endured at her husband's hands.

"For the longest time," she said, "I've tried and tried and tried to leave."

But the children always begged her to stay, she said, because they wanted to remain a family.

Friday night, she didn't go home from work, but instead went to the Muckleshoot Casino with the male co-worker and after that to a convenience store. She had decided her marriage was over.

She then left the store with her co-worker, whom she described as a friend. She said reports she'd told her husband she was leaving him for another man were incorrect.
However, the reporters did manage to find one account that contradicted Angela Harrison's.
However, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer told The Associated Press on Monday that investigators believe Angela Harrison, indeed, was leaving her husband for another man, based on interviews with relatives who spoke with James Harrison before he killed himself.
The man was a murderer. An admitted abuser, of both his children and his wife. A stalker. A psychopath. Someone she had every reason to get away from. Yet a report from him, told to his relatives and repeated second-hand, posthumously, by police, is taken more seriously by the cops (and, it would seem, the reporter) than the story told by the woman herself.

Even dead, he still gets to set the narrative.


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