“America’s bloodiest crime against students wasn’t committed by white teenagers in black trench coats, tired of being bullied. Nor was it carried out by an angry Chinese graduate student disappointed that a rival claimed an academic honor he was hoping for. It wasn’t a gangster, a preppie, a nerd or a geek.
No. It was none of these. It was 55-year old school board member and building maintenance man, Andrew Kehoe of Bath, Michigan. Sometime, perhaps a day or two before May 18, 1927, Kehoe bludgeoned to death his weak and chronically ill wife. Then on the morning of the 18th he set his whole farm on fire, tying up his animals so even they couldn’t escape the flames of his rage. While the fire trucks from town headed towards his farm, an elaborate time bomb he had concocted and concealed in the floors at the elementary school exploded, killing dozens of children and teachers. Not yet finished, he then drove to the school and blew up three more victims and himself, apparently firing a shot gun into the back of his dynamite and shrapnel-filled car. All told, 45 souls were murdered by Kehoe. (That is almost as many as the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings combined.)
The only thing Kehoe left behind was a homemade sign attached to a fence near his burned-down home that read “CRIMINALS ARE MADE, NOT BORN”, showing that Kehoe, about to become one of the most blood-thirsty murderers in U.S. history, believed it was not his fault. Evidently he was so angered that his own taxes had been raised to fund the building of the new school, he destroyed it. And like all unrepentant sinners, he blamed others for his sins: from the superintendent who supported the school bond issue, to the children who gained from his loss, to the teachers who taught them. He killed them all. Or at least he tried. Half of the explosive devices he secreted into the school during his year-long plot didn’t ignite or the body count would have been much higher.” (Adapted from With Christ in the Voting Booth by David J Shedlock)
Today is the 85th Anniversary of Kehoe’s bloody crusade against his school system. It would be easy to paint this guy as your typical anti-tax Republican, but that would miss the mark. That would be to join Kehoe in blaming everyone else for his own troubles and his own evil reactions. We might also be tempted to join the chorus of others who when “these things happen” say he just snapped. The problem with that theory is that it took the guy over a year to plan this carnage. There is only one way to explain this. Evil and Sin exist.
It is the primary purpose of government to restrain wicked acts of this sort. But when fear of hell disappears from the churchgoers, or others think that by perpetrating these things they get to have many wives in the next life., nothing can stop this. Changes in government won’t make much difference. Nothing, except the gospel can stop a country from falling into anarchy.And that gospel first has to be restored to a church which is distracted with softball leagues, food conferences and monument worship. It is time to pray for the people of God and her pastors.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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