Friday, January 6, 2017


On January 16, 2002, a toxic mix of hatred, mental illness, incompetence, and arrogance came together with deadly consequences. Peter Odighizuwa, a disturbed and disgruntled student who had just flunked out of the Appalachian School of Law, returned to the campus to exact revenge.

Odighizuwa gunned down Dean Anthony Sutin, Professor Thomas Blackwell, and student Angela Dales—the mother of my oldest grandchild. He also wounded three female students—Rebecca Brown, Stacey Bean, and Madeline Short.

Who were the victims?

Student, Angela Denise Dales, was born on a cold, drizzling January day in 1969; she was buried 33 years later on a cold, drizzling day in January 2002. The intervening years witnessed the short life of a remarkable young woman; a woman who contributed every day of her life to the world in which she lived. She was, in many respects, the embodiment of good—whether it was buying a winter coat for a high school acquaintance that had none, to working to help students adjust to the rigors of law school requirements.

Dean Anthony Sutin was a graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard Law School. He was a deputy associate U.S. attorney general during the Clinton administration. He worked for the Democratic Nation  and the 1992 Clinton Presidential Campaign. Sutin brought his family to Grundy, a small, blue collar, economically depressed southwest Virginia community believing that he could make a difference in people’s lives. He left behind his wife, Margaret Lawton, and two small children, Henry and Clara. Clara, at the time was a 14-month child from China they had adopted one month earlier.

Professor Thomas Blackwell, was by all accounts, the most popular professor on campus. He was a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and the Duke Law School. His children regularly helped out at the Mountain Mission School for Orphans and children in extreme poverty. He and his wife, Lisa, sang in their church choir, Professor Blackwell left behind his wife, daughter Jilian, and sons Zeb and Zeke.

At his sentencing, the press reported a tearful Odighizuwa said he was sorry. What the press did not report was that shortly before the sentencing the killer bragged that the victims got what they deserved. (To be continued)

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