OFF THE CUFF

It’s hard to truly imagine what goes on inside the head of a man the likes of Daniel Campbell.

Most of us will never comprehend a thought process that culminates with pulling the trigger of a loaded .38 special that’s pointed at another person’s head, let alone pulling it again while the weapon is pointed toward a body that’s already on the ground.

But getting a fleeting glimpse of such a brain pattern can be an eerie window into the dark space that harbors the beast that exists in all of us. I got such a look late Tuesday morning when my job took me to the Texas County Jail as Campbell was being led back into the facility after being apprehended for the second time in a couple of weeks following his escape the previous night.

Never mind how he got away, or why or how that could possibly be allowed to happen. Those are issues I feel confident will be competently and summarily dealt with in the very, very near future by the individuals who must (and surely will) deal with them.

Upon arrival at the jail, I positioned myself (and my camera) with a view down the hallway leading toward the booking area. After Campbell was led down that hall by a few Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and a Texas County deputy (who was instrumental throughout the aftermath of the escape), the now infamous murder suspect was seated on a bench and his ankles shackled to it.

Then it wasn’t long before his mouth opened and several fascinating statements came out.

The first thing I noticed was Campbell’s total lack of humility or remorse. He simply yucked it up as if he was partaking in some sort of party game with some fellow party-goers.

I heard him say to a trooper, “I wasn’t quite fast enough – guess I’m getting too old.”

The trooper didn’t reply. I was thinking, “you’ll be getting old on the inside now.”

I also heard him say, “can I tell that reporter over there to f-off?”

He also proclaimed, “it’s not over!”

I’m not so sure. Something tells me he’ll have a substantially shorter leash this time.

Moments later, he looked right at me (as if I would be impressed) and said something like, “I’m on all three TV stations” (referring to Springfield’s KY3, KOLR-10 and KSPR). I didn’t give credence by responding.

The guy was proud of himself. It was as if he was enjoying some twisted form of celebrity.

Again, most of us can’t “get” that. But as I mentioned, that beast has a place in everyone’s heart of hearts.

You might say, “oh no, not me.” But the Bible doesn’t say we’re born good and learn to be bad. On the contrary, we’re born of sin and spend our lives as its pawns. Some are dragged away from it by God (the Creator of literally everything), but some remain in its grip.

As he acted out his wack-job ways in a purposeful manner designed to gain the attention of someone he viewed as having the power to make him more famous, Daniel Campbell wasn’t so much doing anything he had control over. He was simply being himself – exactly as is his destiny.

Don’t for a moment think, “man, I’m glad I’m not that way.” Think, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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