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Editorial: Save the snark

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By The Kentucky Standard Editorial Board

The recent shooting death of a Bardstown teenager over what allegedly was a penny-ante amount of drugs and cash is a sad tragedy, one our community has unfortunately had to become far more accustomed to than we would like.

It’s just one in a string of alleged murders in Nelson County, similar to the killing of another Bardstown teen a year and a half ago in Bloomfield, that are believed to be tied to the drug trade. That killing was also allegedly over a relatively minuscule amount of drugs and money, and while it’s sad that someone would kill another over something so petty, it’s the reality we live in.

However, there is a contrast between these two incidents and the five as-yet unsolved murders of Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis, mother and daughter Kathy and Samantha Netherland, Crystal Rogers (who is missing but presumed dead) and her father, Tommy Ballard.

The difference, of course, is in the two recent drug-related killings, suspects were immediately identified by law enforcement and apprehended, and charges filed.

Ours is a small-town community, and people talk. A lot. Following last week’s killing of Cameron Wess Williamson, 17, and the quick arrest of four suspects, an uncomfortable narrative began to develop. You’ve probably heard it too, and may have even said such things yourself.

The narrative, painted with a heavy coat of sarcasm, goes something like this: “Hey, they solved a murder!”

An attitude like that is somewhat understandable, given the amount of attention beyond the Nelson County borders paid to the aforementioned as-yet unsolved murders. We, as a community, are fearful, exasperated, frustrated and confused about it.

The unsolved murders are a bad stain on our beautiful community, a community that relies so heavily on the yearly influx of tourists to support our economy. Many of you may have had to explain to our out-of-town visitors the meaning of all these signs posted around the county with slogans such as “Standing With The Ballards” and “Solve These Murders.”

The bottom line is the drug-related killings are what might be considered relatively low-hanging fruit for police investigators. They weren’t well-planned, with the alleged killers going out of their way to meticulously cover their tracks. The suspects were “easy gets” for local law enforcement, so to speak.

The five unsolved murders, which hang like a shroud over our community, are most decidedly not “easy gets” for police, and that’s why they continue to remain unsolved.

Regardless, law enforcement needs our help to solve any and all homicides. They need information from people in the community to be able to tie their cases together and bring a resolution that leads to justice.

What law enforcement doesn’t need from the community is a snarky, sarcastic attitude like the one expressed by many of us in the days since Williamson’s killing last week. While that snarky attitude is somewhat understandable, it’s not productive and it needs to stop. It is most certainly not helping solve these murders any quicker.