The stories of those who were betrayed by their fellow man, cornered by corrupt institutions and executed without cause nor crime in the name of "justice". These are our stories.

October 31, 2009

It was like somebody ripped our hearts out.

Katie Collman 1995-2005

Katie Collman was just another poor Indiana girl in the heart of the American Midwest. That was until the ten-year-old's dead body washed up in a shallow creek in February of 2005.

Katie had lived in a quiet, small town in southern Indiana of 1500 people 40 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. Although she would never have a chance to understand it, Katie would find herself at the center of one of the sickest and most shocking murders in America.

In a CBS interview Katie's dad, John Neance recalls, "She was my best friend. I've got best friends my age, but Katie was my very best friend. It was like somebody ripped our hearts out."

The ten-year-old's murder in February of 2005 and the circular investigation into three local suspects, each with dark histories of meth and child abuse, would make front page headlines from New York to San Diego.

The story would question the reality of the quiet Midwest of American myth. The idea of a friendly place where a family was safe from the raging crime in America's large cities got harder to picture as the relative security of small town life disappeared in a sickening lurch. Did such a place ever really exist?

"Katie was my best friend. It was like somebody ripped our hearts out."
- Jim Neance in an interview with CBS August 2005

When a fourth grader can't leave the house without being kidnapped, raped and murdered then this idyllic place must be regarded as a myth. A convenient myth invented and reached for the consensually blind. An imaginary place where those who are surrounded by crime and drugs in the city dream that little girls aren't raped to death by deranged meth heads out in the country.

Katie was killed when she was 10 years old. According to court documents Anthony Stockelman, a 38 year-old meth addict and father of two teenage boys. Stockelman kidnapped her bound her, raped her, then drowned her. Stockelman stuffed Katie's small body in a storm drain under a nameless county bridge. DNA and red carpet fibers from his mother's home would convict Stockelman, despite another jangled meth addict confessing to the FBI. Stockelman was sentenced to spend life in prison on a plea deal.

Nearly five years later, her face still haunts this country. It haunts America in the way that all murdered little girls faces haunt families: as another "unlucky" little girl who found her way into a small nondescript grave because the world around her was too distracted by a comfortable myth to notice something was wrong.

Notes:
Early in his sentence at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Indiana, Anthony Stockelman was unfortunate enough to encounter a distant cousin of Katie Collman, 22-year-old Jared Harris. Harris held a shank to Stockelman's throat while another inmate tattooed "Katie's Revenge" across on Stockleman's forehead.


References:
CBS, Girl's Murder Amplifies Drug War by Brian Dakss
FBI Operative, Katie Collman
Missing Kids, Katie Collman
Crime Blog, Katie’s Cousin Makes His Mark