Is ‘snitching’ worse than murder?

By From page A6 | October 01, 2013

By Robert Northup

My father would be among the first to remind us that Daniel Marsh should be considered innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand, the available evidence already appears to be overwhelming.

The double homicide of my father (Chip Northup) and Claudia Maupin has caught national attention because of the sensationally horrific nature of the crime. As more details emerge during the trial, it is likely to become even more sensational.

We probably will see more than one advocacy group exploit this as an opportunity to score political points. For example, members of the gun lobby might want to remind us that no gun control law would have prevented the suspect from obtaining a knife. However, given the reports that the suspect entertained fantasies of carrying out a schoolyard massacre, we can only imagine what might have happened if he had been given access to firearms.

Other advocates might choose to exploit the issue of our society’s inadequate resources to address mental illness. Clearly, this kind of crime could only have been committed by a psychopath. However, mental health professionals worked intensively with the suspect, and it appears that none of them raised any “red flags” about potential danger.

Parents, psychiatrists, teachers and others might all be blamed for failing to identify the threat before it was too late. However, it appears that there was more than one person who knew exactly how serious a danger he was.

For two months, the police had almost no good leads to investigate. Finally, somebody “snitched,” and this was the break that made it possible to solve the case.

It could have been much worse. Another murder might have been committed before anyone was willing to come forward and “snitch.” Eventually, we may learn that it was only because someone feared for their own life that they finally identified the suspect to police.

Before we point blaming fingers at the failure of the mental health network, violent video games, the availability of knives or some other cause, we might ask ourselves why anyone hesitated, even for a moment, to “snitch” on one of their peers.

According to the popular culture, a “snitch” is barely better than a pedophile, and not as honorable as a murderer. Is “snitching” really worse than murder? I suspect that many parents would be very disturbed to learn which values their teenage children have chosen to live by in regard to this question.

— Robert Northup of Davis is the son of Oliver “Chip” Northup, who was stabbed to death along with his wife, Claudia Maupin, on April 14 at their South Davis condominium.

Special to The Enterprise

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