A reported personal essay in which Margot Finn writes about the late-term abortion she under went at 29 weeks after it was discovered her baby had a severe brain abnormality; the online support group she helps run for parents who have had abortions because of poor prenatal diagnoses or maternal health issues; and how members have been affected by the latest anti-abortion backlash.
After a bout with cancer and several strokes that eliminated her quality of life, Becky Benight had had enough. She wanted to die on her own terms. Confessing her wishes to her husband Philip, he sprung her from nursing home hell in a bid for freedom; they made a pact to end their own lives to stop their chronic suffering. Everything went along according to plan until Philip woke up from his coma to discover that not only had Becky died, he’d been charged with her murder.
When Philip Benight awoke on January 26, 2017, he saw a bright glow. “Son of a bitch, there is a light,” he thought. He hoped it meant he had died. His mind turned to his wife, Becky: “Where are you?” he thought. “We have to go to the light.” He hoped Becky had died, too. Then he lost consciousness. When he opened his eyes again, Philip realized he wasn’t seeing heaven but overhead fluorescents at Lancaster General Hospital. He was on a hospital bed, with his arms restrained and a tube down his throat, surrounded by staff telling him to relax. He passed out again. The next time he came to, his arms and legs were free, but a drugged heaviness made it hard to move. A nurse told him that his wife was at another hospital—“for her safety”—even though she was also at Lancaster General. Soon after, two police officers arrived. They wanted to know why Becky was in a coma.
Three days earlier, Philip, who was sixty, tall and lanky, with owlish glasses and mustache, had picked up his wife from an HCR ManorCare nursing home. Becky had been admitted to the facility recently at the age of seventy-two after yet another series of strokes. They drove to Darrenkamp’s grocery store and Philip bought their dinner, a special turkey sandwich for Becky, with the meat shaved extra thin. They ate in the car. Then, like every other night, they got ice cream from Burger King and drove to their home in Conestoga, a sparse hamlet in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Philip parked in the driveway, and they sat in the car looking out at the fields that roll down to the Susquehanna River.
They listened to the radio until there was nothing more to do. Philip went into the house and retrieved a container of Kraft vanilla pudding, which he’d mixed with all the drugs he could find in the house—Valium, Klonopin, Percocet, and so on. He opened the passenger-side door and knelt beside Becky. He held a spoon, and she guided it to her mouth. When Becky had eaten all the pudding, he got back into the driver’s seat and swallowed a handful of pills. Philip asked her how the pudding tasted. “Like freedom,” she said. As they lost consciousness, the winter chill seeped into their clothes and skin.
Landscape view near the river between Manali to Leh Ladakh in India. Getty Images.
The Parvati Valley in the Indian Himalaya — known for its overwhelming beauty — calls to those who want to shed their possessions as part of a quest for spiritual enlightenment. As Harley Rustad reports at Outside, it’s also known for a plethora of missing and (presumably murdered) Western adventure tourists.
But beneath Alexander’s glamorous tales was a person searching for higher meaning, sometimes at the expense of sensibility.
In December 2013, at age 32, Alexander announced his retirement. Disenchanted and restless, he sold the majority of his belongings, packed a backpack, and took off. In the first post on his travel blog, Adventures of Justin, he wrote: “I am running from a life that isn’t authentic…I’m running away from monotony and towards novelty; towards wonder, awe, and the things that make me feel vibrantly alive.” He spent the next two-and-a half years on the road, backpacking through South America and Asia, and driving his motorcycle around the United States.
On the surface, Alexander embodied the “I quit my job to travel” trope, and he amassed a horde of followers—more than 11,000 on his Instagram account alone. Many gravitated to his stories of climbing the Brooklyn Bridge at night, partaking in a shamanistic ritual in Brazil, undertaking a monk’s initiation ceremony in Thailand, and helping build a school in earthquake-wracked Nepal in the spring of 2016. Others were drawn to what his adventures represented: Alexander was minimalist but not rejectionist. His smartphone didn’t disgust him; it enabled him to tell his story. And his path appeared to be one not of disassociation but of action, as if he were the protagonist in his own epic novel…He once said that his life was about “walking that razor’s edge” between living in modern society and a free existence.
However Alexander’s journey ended, something happened at Mantalai Lake. In the September 3 photograph taken by the hikers, Alexander is wrapped in his gray shawl. He appears calm and stoic. Maybe Alexander’s realization wasn’t about himself but about the man he trusted to guide him—that he came to see the holy man as a fraud, unable to offer what he sought. It’s possible Alexander found what he was looking for: a dreamlike revelation while sitting near the source of a holy river, listening to the minute motions of nature, that showed him the way forward. Or maybe at the end of the trail, he found nothing; that the harder he tried, the more it felt like he was grasping at mist—chasing tendrils higher and higher into the mountains.
The author’s mother was a key witness in serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s trail, and Gacy’s presence in her childhood has haunted her into adulthood. To honor his 33 victims and exorcise herself, she spoke with her mom about Gacy.
Everyone in Canadian high society knew the Shermans, who owned a lucrative generic drug company and were some of the country’s most active philanthropists. But Barry Sherman also sued a lot of people, battled his cousins, made questionable business relationships, didn’t use a bodyguard, and kept their one home security camera off.
Tori Telfer | Longreads | June 2018 | 14 minutes (3,622 words)
Issac Bailey was nine when he watched his hero get taken away in handcuffs. It felt like a bad dream: the police were closing those handcuffs around the wrists of his older brother Moochie, the charming, athletic, charismatic father-figure who’d protected their mother from their dad’s beatings, whose checks from a stint in the army kept their large family afloat, and who was “like a god” to his little brothers. All that changed in the blink of an eye when he murdered a white man and was fed into the maw of the criminal justice system.
Moochie was a murderer. But he was also a person, a big brother, a black man who’d absorbed a thousand and one shocks for his little siblings, a kid born into the sort of soul-crushing racial environment that made it a sin to wear dark skin, as Bailey notes below. Had his worst act put him beyond the possibility of redemption? This is the question Bailey sets out to ask in his latest book, My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South (Other Press, May 2018).
Through a childhood and young adulthood spent with his beloved older brother behind bars, Bailey experienced firsthand how callously the families of perpetrators are ignored by the criminal justice system, and how little nuance is afforded both black men who’ve offended and the families who love them. “The more hideous, the more one-dimensional black men who kill…are portrayed, the better,” he writes. “It’s easier to hate them that way…and if they are monsters, they likely come from monstrous stock, meaning the broken families from which they hail aren’t worthy of the resources needed to repair them.” After thirty-two years behind bars, Moochie was unexpectedly released. By then, Issac had grown into a successful journalist who’d grappled with his brother’s crime for his entire adult life—a crime that had left Bailey himself with a stutter, and a bad case of PTSD, both remnants of the trauma that had radiated throughout his family for decades. Read more…
Federal Prison in Florence, Colorado. (AP Photo/Pueblo Chieftain, Chris McLean)
A rookie FBI agent spent a decade investigating the conspiracy around the murder of Manuel “Tati” Torrez, a high-ranking member of the notorious Mexican Mafia gang, la Eme. At The Atavist, Chris Outcalt reports on Torrez as “one of the graying old guard” of the gang at ADX Florence. Despite the fact that the federal maximum security prison was specially designed to keep its population of extremely violent inmates in “near total isolation,” Torrez was brutally murdered in the prison yard while the cameras were rolling. But who did it and why?
What came next was uncharted territory: an investigation of the first homicide in a place specifically designed to prevent violence of any kind. Instead of a shank or some other crude weapon, the killer had used fists and feet to pummel a fellow prisoner to a pulp. He’d committed murder in broad daylight, with cameras everywhere, yet avoided being caught in the act. Who had done it? And, more importantly, why?
Not yet 48 hours into his inaugural FBI assignment, Jon learned that he’d be investigating the first murder at the ADX, which had badly shaken the facility’s staff. A colleague explained that, as far as he could tell, the killing had everything to do with the Mexican Mafia.
“What’s that?” Jon asked. “Like a street gang?”
“No, it’s not a street gang,” his colleague replied. “It’s the mother of all street gangs. It’s like the Navy SEALs.”