Pounds: No restWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not surprising that someone is trying to exploit the ugly mess surrounding Father Gerald Robinson’s death, but it’s still sick and shocking.
I normally encourage entrepreneurial spirit, but when Toledo Free Press first reported July 28 that Florida-based Serial Killers Ink is brokering Robinson-related funeral items, I was unable to muster any enthusiasm.
The site is offering the items on behalf of Toledoan Dan Clay, founder of Grave Fixations, which offers local crime scene and graveyard tours.
How do these ghouls defend this?
It’s fair to offer them a chance to explain their choices. Eric Holler, who runs the Serial Killers Ink website, told Toledo Free Press the Robinson items don’t have much academic value, but said there is a market for such items and meeting that demand is his business. Priests convicted of murder are exceedingly rare and Robinson is believed to be the first to be convicted of murdering a nun.
“I do understand these men and women have done some heinous, brutal crimes,” he said. “The Gerald Robinson case is horrible. He killed a nun. But people seem to have an interest in dark and morbid history. It’s history. We can’t push history under the rug. It happened. These things happened, and there are people who collect these items and people who use these items in the academic field, who study these items to get a better grasp of these individuals.
“I can’t really say a photograph of him lying in a coffin has social value. It’s not going to help anyone understand his crime. But there are collectors out there that would love to have a photograph of an infamous murderer in his final resting place. People are interested in some really dark things. That’s part of our psyche.”
I am neither a defender of Robinson nor an apologist for how the Catholic Diocese of Toledo handled his funeral. But it’s stomach-turning to think of someone sneaking into his visitation to snap a photo of him in his casket, collecting items from the funeral and scooping gravesite dirt into a vial for sale.
It is offensive to the memory of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, whom Robinson was convicted of murdering, and to her family, who have been through enough with the controversy over Robinson being buried with full priesthood rites.
There is no question the case is sensational. But even those who do not believe Robinson deserves to rest in peace must be taken aback by this crass, tasteless and offensive exploitation.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.