Tying up loose ends here today. Some of you may remember earlier posts about the Bangor waterfront murder and its eery resemblance to the events in HOME BODY, the McMorrow novel. In the book, a street kid is murdered in a shack under the Veterans Bridge. In real life, Colin Koehler, 36, killed 19-year-old Tammy Boutilier in a “bum’s shack” under the bridge. Koehler slit the young woman’s throat in what was termed “a thrill killing” by prosecutors.
In my books, there sometimes is an unofficial death penalty. In real life, in Maine, there’s no death penalty so this week Koehler got life without parole. I read the coverage in the Bangor Daily News (they do a great job) with both great interest and tremendous sadness. Something there is about real life … as I’ve said.
Koehler says he didn’t do it, wasn’t there. At all. The jury didn’t buy it. At all. He’s got a long time to keep proclaiming his innocence. Maybe he thinks that will make life in prison a little easier. I doubt it. But as we bid him farewell, sent off to join the rest of the criminals who will soon be forgotten by the world on the outside, I can’t help comparing fictional justice with real justice. There was no McMorrow in the real city of Bangor, Maine. McMorrow lives in the Bangor of fiction, where crimes like these are dealt with swiftly and with certainty.
Is there something wrong with inventing stories like these, that are sad enough in real life? I don’t think so. I think we need to know there is a place where that can happen, even if it’s only in our imagination. I know I do.