Thursday, November 05, 2009

South its Worst

from James Grippando

I had my light-hearted-TGIF-subbing-for-Jackie piece all ready to post when I saw the latest headline in the Miami Herald. It gave me a sick feeling inside.

According to a report issued by the sheriff's office, a pair of charred dolls were found floating in the pool of a Deerfield Beach home. When it comes to criminal activity, the south Florida community isn't easily shocked. This despicable act, however, was the grim exclamation point to a bigger story that has shocked even the most jaded cops (not to mention crime fiction writers).

The aforementioned Deerfield home belongs to the Brewer family. On October 12, the Brewer's fifteen-year-old son was cornered by a group of bullies from his middle school. He owed one of the boys some money for a video game. He couldn't pay. So five boys tackled him, held him on the ground, and doused him with rubbing alcohol. One of the older boys lit the match. Afterward, he told the police: "I wanted to see what would happen."

Michael suffered burns on over 65% of his body. He saved himself by jumping in a pool at an apartment complex. A woman came to his aid and called 911. The Miami Herald posted the 911 emergency call on its website. In the background, you can hear Michael screaming. It's one of the most disturbing things I have ever listened to.

It's expected to take months for Michael to recover from his wounds. I guess throwing charred dolls into the family's swimming pool while he suffers in a hospital bed is someone's idea of a side-splitting joke. Or maybe it's some kind of warning or statement by a gang. I don't which it is, but how much can this family endure?

Crime writers from south Florida often say--sometimes with a smile--that there is never a shortage of material down here. Today, I'm not smiling.

Jackie will be back from London next week. Hopefully with some good news.

P.S. If you'd like to help Michael Brewer, online donations are accepted at or Checks can be made out to Neighbors 4 Neighbors Family Fund with Michael Brewer's name in the memo line, and mailed to 8900 NW 18th Terrace, Miami, FL 33172.


  1. Sadly, this type of thing could and probably does happen outside South Florida. Maybe the perpetrators will be caught and punished. If so, they won't be laughing, either.

    Great post, James.

  2. Stories of inhumanity and cruelty by the young seem to be proliferating. Or has it always been that way?

    Whichever, it's terribly depressing. Thanks for the post, Jim.

  3. Oh my gods.

    I'm so sad about this, and (this is going to sound bad, but I think you'll understand) I'm appalled that I'm not completely shocked.

    An event like this IS horrific and shocking and appalling. Unfortunately what it isn't is isolated.

  4. unbelievable..........