The following is my column for this week's Newton County News:
At first glance, there is nothing particularly unusual about the MySpace page, at least if you have any experience at all looking at MySpace pages.
The smiling face of a bearded young man with a t-shirt and red ball cap is not different from thousands of other pages on the social networking site.
Where this particular MySpace page begins to differ is with the stunning contrast between that benign photo and the background, which was done by something called “Pimp my Profile.”
The photo, taken in broad daylight, stands out against the nightmarish background, which features a horned demon holding skulls on a chain.
At first glance, it appears the young man who made this MySpace page has lost interest in it since he has not signed in since Nov. 2, 2007. According to the information he provided to the site, he is “33 years old, single,” and is looking for “dating” and “serious relationships.”
Considering the young man’s present circumstances, he likely will have a long wait for those things.
The MySpace in question belongs to Chris Collings, Wheaton, currently a resident of the Barry County Jail as he awaits trial for the brutal rape and murder of nine-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella.
The last day Chris Collings checked into his MySpace account…the day Rowan Ford was murdered…he described his mood as “horny.”
According to the authorities, Rowan Ford’s stepfather, David Wesley Spears, 25, Stella, and his friend, Collings, were responsible for a crime so horrible it is almost impossible to conceive of it happening. Spears’ trial has already been moved out of Barry County because of the intense publicity the case has received in this area. The same thing may happen for Collings’ trial though no decision has been made.
The nightmarish scene on the background of Collings’ MySpace page pales in comparison to the type of bleak soul who could even contemplate committing this sort of crime.
Yet more than nine months after Rowan Ford’s death, Chris Collings’ MySpace page remains open to the public, a slap in the face to the memory of a nine-year-old girl whose life ended far too soon, and in such an unthinkable fashion.
MySpace officials have worked with governmental agencies to remove profiles of known sexual predators, and they should be commended for taking those steps. At the same time, however, the time has come for Chris Collings’ MySpace profile to vanish forever.
Anything else is an insult to the memory of Rowan Ford.