Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Never can say goodbye

Frank Spisak was the reason we 1980s seekers of urban higher education looked over our shoulders after a coffee in the Cage or studied the shadows after a beer at Fat Glenn’s, on our way to University Tower for the library and the facilities. Three men had been shot dead by a campus stalker, and a female staffer barely escaped another ambush. So maintenance locked the first floor restroom door. Every isolated place was a potential trap.

After his arrest, we studied the photo in the newspaper, the nerdy glasses and unremarkable loner’s profile, and for a second we’d think we knew him. This was before VaTech. Before Northern Illinois. Before Biswanath Halder. Back when “campus” and “shooting” still looked strange together in a headline. Frank Spisak—sent to Death Row—looked at first like a classmate, then an alum we’d lost track of, and then one day we didn’t think of him at all. We’d moved on, past the shadows.

If this were a movie, the credits would have rolled long ago. This is not a movie. We haven’t moved on. The shadows have just grown longer. --John Hyduk

(The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hear Frank Spisak’s case in the fall. Spisak is trying to get his death sentence overturned; prosecutor Bill Mason is fighting to uphold it. See yesterday’s Associated Press report. John Hyduk’s May 2007 Cleveland Magazine article, "The Long Goodbye," told the story of Spisak, the murder victims, and their families. --ed.)

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