Thursday, February 02, 2006

Murder Hits Town

On February 28, 1975, a friend of my grandmother's was shot multiple times and left for dead. She lived to tell the tale, but her husband was not so lucky...

Richard and Esther Cleem were attacked by two men from the twin cities, one of whom was an estranged boyfriend of their daughter Marlys.

I remember that night very well because of it. My sister and her husband were visiting my parents. We were playing board games and visiting in the living room after supper. It was a Friday night, still cold out in Late February. My grandmother had just passed away a couple of months before, just a day shy of her 87th birthday.

The next morning, Dad brought home the news from the post office. We were all in shock. Murder? In St. Vincent? This was a town where many still left their doors unlocked - my parents were NOT among those people...my Mom didn't share others' optomistic outlook on human nature. Gossip in town was that if you drove by the Cleem house, you could still see blood on the curtains of a window facing the street. We later had to drive by their home that day. The gossip was true.

We later learned from Mrs. Cleem herself, that she had to play dead after being shot point-blank in the head, laying on the floor, while her husband tried to fend off the two men with a hammer. She always seemed so brave to me when she told the story. She was shot multiple times in the end, but that shot to the head had to stay her constant companion, a reminder of that night, until the day she died; it was lodged in a spot that was too dangerous to operate, the doctors said, and probably wouldn't hurt to leave alone, so they did...