In the two July 29 articles on the multiple murder-suicide last weekend (“Seeking the ‘why’ after a quadruple murder-suicide” and “Husband shot wife and three young children as they slept, then killed himself in their Saco apartment”), we learn from the reporters that the accused murderer was a solid, hardworking guy who was experiencing difficulties, and that his wife (that is, one of the people police say he murdered) was an addict.

The source for both claims is the mother of the apparent murderer.

This is really substandard reporting, first simply in the way that the reporters smeared the reputation of a murdered woman on the say-so of an interested party in the case.

More broadly, these articles fit in a broader pattern in the United States, where killers in domestic-violence cases are excused with some variation on the claim that they “just snapped” – with the inference that the ultimate cause lies in something that their (dead) partners did.

No one – and evidently not the Press Herald reporters – knows whether there was domestic violence in the history of this family. Domestic abusers can be quite expert at concealing their abuse, intimidating their partners and keeping up a good front.

More generally, by seeking to provide a rationale for what this apparent killer did, the reporters in question have done an injustice to this murdered woman and her murdered children, and to other victims of domestic violence.

Scott MacEachern