The Bible says that Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one's heart. (Proverbs 18:8) They certainly have the power to wound mortally.
No longer is gossip dished over coffee and donuts or over the fence as we hang our clothes.
Instead, we know hide behind a computer screen, nameless, faceless, people who use their anonymity to spout the most vile and hateful things with little concern about the possible consequences.
About four months ago I was checking out a story that was happening in another city and when I googled it I was directed to a forums area of the area's paper.
I was shocked at the various subjects being discussed in that paper. There was a thread asking about a particular gentleman and whether the poster should pursue this "hawt" young man. Another thread went on and on speaking ill about their local school board because their child was suspended for "no reason".
I was taken aback by the number of threads that had nothing to do with the news. I thought it was an anomaly. Something just unique to West Virginia. It appears that I was very wrong.
When I woke up Sunday morning I heard the new headline saying that a mother and her three children were found dead in their home in Austin, IN.
A family member called and asked police to check on the welfare of the residents of the home. When the officer entered the residence, he noticed parts of the home had been burned. The officer conducted a quick search of the residence and found up to four deceased victims inside.
They say 30 year old Amanda Bennett died from a gunshot wound to the head area and smoke inhalation. Her two daughters, 14 year old Jasmine Abbott and 9 year old Katelynn Bennett also died from gunshot wounds to the head area, as well as her son, 4 year old Ryan Bennett. Katelynn also suffered from smoke inhalation.
The question that is on the lips of many is why? Why would a woman take her life and the lives of her three children?
It appears for now that the only clues are what are perhaps, Amanda's final words.
While searching the net I learned that the police were very curious in a post that was written in the Crothersville Forum. By the time I got to the forum over 800 people had posted to that particular thread and so it took me a little bit of searching to find some of the relevant posts.
Just like that forum from West Virginia, this forum seems to have lots of threads that seem to have nothing to do with the news of the day. Rather they seem to be a place to air ones dirty laundry, pontificate, and just plain gossip.
In her angst and fury over a pending divorce with a cheating spouse, Amanda Bennett turned to a local message board to vent, and to respond to gossip being spread about the family's sordid drama.
At first Amanda used the name "his wife" but on her very last post which was located on page 23 she changed her name to: Gone forever.
This thread no longer exists but here is some text from the original post which was located in a thread dedicated to gossip from Versatech, her husband's employer.
It was getting late as I was working back through the posts but I did notice that some of the people who joined the thread made comments which only seemed to want to inflame the situation.
Here are some of the posts I chose to copy (FYI all posts are as originally posted and I did not edit or correct spelling):
Page 17 his wife posts: Someone tell me how after ten years a person is suppose to just let go of everything they worked for in life and why others think they have the right to take it away and it's not crazy to love your husband as much as i do a woman is suppose to love her husband that much and if I didn't get mad or act the way I have over it then that would mean I didn't love him much at all . So you all can say I'm obsessed or crazy if you want but if you ever go through what I just have believe me you don't know what to do or how to feel so am I obsessed no I'm not I'm just a mad black woman that has been done wrong by my husband and as for Jan you need to take a look at you kids and ask yourself is what your doing worth hurting them cause that's what you and John has done to my kids to me nothing in the world is worth my kids being hurt and no one is worth more to me then my kids so the next time you call or txt John think about your kids first and how they would feel
Page 19 his wife says:
You have no idea what went on in my home John can say what he wants to make himself look better I don't care he knows the truth and so do I he just don't know how to tell the truth anymore he told her he filed for divorce and at the same time asked me not to and many other things they can have each other but he needs to step up and be a dad instead of pushin his kids to the side
pg 20 his wife says:
And to everyone that thinks I was such a bad wife for writing a letter to a FRIEND why do you think it's ok for him to cheat with a married woman I have every right to be pissed off at the two of them and he didn't think I was that bad otherwise he wouldn't have been spending time with me on the side he just wanted you All to think bad of me so you wouldn't think bad bout him the day you Hank was at hardies with him he was suppose to be shopping for his kids but hangin in the bar with you and the rest of his new buddies was more important I guess so that's why I'm so mad he needs to put his kids b4 you or anyone else and he hasnt
Another post on this page from his wife: Oh wait you better ask him considering he tells so much of the truth now it cracks me up he lied to her bout so many things like filing for a divorce I am the one that filed he asked me not too and I only did it because i found those messages so for all his friends that he told I was so bad tell me why if I was so bad he didn't want me to file and was spending time with me when my kids were at school
At the beginning of page 23 his wife changes her sign in to gone forever. This is the post that the police are most interested in:
He just won't stop hurting us with his words and actions so it's time to take the pain away so John Bennett this is for you you got what u wanted no wife an no kids u put her b4 them and u say it's because of the way I act well that has nothing to do with your kids so now you have your truck and your hoe and some family but even they don't think you bein a good dad and they know I didn't do anything to deserve this
And to everyone that believed John you don't know me and I know I have been crazy but have you ever ha this happen to you after this i hope you people don't think it's right to cheat or hook up married people anymore and don't feel sorry for him he did it himself just b4 I wrote this we were on the phone he hung up cause Jan was cAlling so he needs a wake up so he don't do it to anyone ever again only he won't have his kids he'll have to make new ones.
Sadly, while I may which that tragedies like this should cause people to reflect about what they are posting before they hit the send button, I don't believe that it will. As you read through the thread you watched helplessly as participants seemed to make various comments about her, mentioning her weight, etc. and all the while enjoyed the drama as it played out to it tragic end. It will be easy for them to dismiss it as not their fault because she must have been crazy.
It is so much easier to say hurtful things when we do not have to look into the eyes of another person. We say things we would never say to others in person. It's so easy to forget this in this social media universe we live. It is a world in which we risk depersonalisation, alienation, and self-indulgence if we enclose ourselves in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world.
Was this woman mentally ill? I have no idea? She was obviously in a great deal of pain. Certainly the acts that she committed were heinous and there are NO excuses for the murders of her beautiful children. These children were the innocent victims. Sadly, it is left to those who are left behind to sort out what can never fully be understood.
Family members have scheduled a visitation and funeral service for Bennett and her children.
The visitation will be on Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the First Christian Church on West McClain Avenue in Scottsburg.
The funeral will be on Wednesday at 11 p.m., also at the First Christian Church. The burial will be private.
Donations can be made to the Collins Funeral Home at 465 W. McClain Ave., Scottsburg, IN, 47170-1239.