The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 21, 2013

‘Three clowns ... who decided to kill’

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Through her tears, she knelt down and placed a cross at a makeshift memorial where her boyfriend had his life inexplicably ended. “This is his final spot,” she managed to say.  She didn’t know who set up the memorial, but she was grateful.

Half a world away, a father tried to come to grips with his son’s murder. “There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless,” he told reporters in Melbourne, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper. “There wasn’t anything he did or could have done. He was an athlete going for a jog, like he would do five or six days a week in terms of his training schedule. It’s happened. It’s wrong and we just try and deal with it the best we can.”

The murder of 22-year-old East Central University baseball player Christopher Lane, who was here in Oklahoma from his native Australia on a baseball scholarship, is as senseless as they come, and like his girl friend, Sarah Harper, and his father, Peter Lane, we try to come to grips with it. His killing in Duncan on Friday, shot in the back while out for a jog, has made news headlines worldwide.

The depravity of the act is hard to comprehend. Three teenagers are alleged to have killed Lane out of “boredom.” They, according to Duncan police chief Dan Ford, saw him jog by and one declared “that’s our target” and Lane was marked for death. They are alleged to have followed in their car, shot him in the back and sped off. Lane stumbled and collapsed near a drainage ditch. Neighbors rushed to his aid and performed CPR, but it was too little, too late. The .22 caliber bullet tore its deadly path through him and he was dead shortly thereafter.

Charged with first-degree murder are 15-year-old James Francis Edwards Jr. and 16-year-old Chancey Allen Luna. They are being held without bond and face life imprisonment. Also charged as an accessory was 17-year-old Michael Dewayne Jones, who drove the car. He is being held on $1 million bond.

Jones cried in court at his arraignment. Spare us.

Ford said there was no explanation. He also said there was no racial aspect to the killing.

“They wanted to be Billy Bob Badasses,” Ford is quoted as saying by the Melbourne Herald Sun. “It was just three clowns who got together and decided to kill.”

We are left to wonder: How could this happen here in Oklahoma? In Duncan? The birthplace of Opie Taylor (Ron Howard) for crying out loud. This isn’t Detroit or Chicago. But the fact is the value of human life seems to not matter, and there is a substantial failure of society across the board.

But that’s for another time. Meanwhile, friends, family and acquaintances are left to deal with the aftermath. There is a Facebook page called R.I.P. Christopher Lane that already has more than 62,000 likes. Memorials are planned and funds are being raised to help the family with the awful task of bringing Lane back home for burial.

We wish we could do more, but there is little we can do but hope the three alleged killers, if found guilty, receive appropriate punishment. But what is appropriate in this instance? There really is no punishment that can bring peace or satisfaction. Lane is never coming back.

“It’s very saddening,” 85-year-old Duncan resident Bill Renfrow told The Associated Press. “He was a guest in our country.’’’

And we shouldn’t send our guests home in coffins.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at