Yesterday, during the “Afternoon Shift” interview Rick Kogan and I did with LaWanda Thompson-Sterling, I heard myself admitting that the ordeal of her son’s murder – a story I followed on and off my WBEZ blog for two and half years – had sometimes been too much and that, because I could, because I’d had the privilege, I’d backed away and taken some distance at times.
Jeremiah Sterling was murdered July 15, 2010, his killer arrested almost immediately. For LaWanda, the murder didn’t just occur on that sunny day, but was kept alive with every new twist and turn of the case, with every new rumor that hit her doorstep, with every interview we did, with every visit from her son’s friends.
I remember being at her house and sensing that her welcome to his friends – young folks hurting from the loss, lonely for their own reasons, disoriented by events – seemed both a balm and a curse. Jeremiah’s friends kept his memory fresh, but that also meant the murder – a savage assassination – stayed near, a malignant ghost hovering.