Murder Ballads Down by the River

One of the most popular themes of the murder ballad (English, Scottish, American, folk, bluegrass, blues) is that of the man who takes the girl who loves him for a walk down by the river, and kills her. There are various circumstances and reasons, but the river is where you do it. Instant body disposal, you see.

The last couple weeks in Dayton, there’s been a case of the disappearance of a woman and her little boy that’s been in the news. Last week, her body was found down by the river, and yesterday, they released the information that she’d been shot in the head. Her boyfriend was a felon, and the police went to talk to him; he fled and then shot himself. There’s a second girlfriend around, who apparently helped drain the woman’s account of money. The little boy hasn’t been found, but is presumed dead. You have to wonder if they were holding her son hostage to make her keep her mouth shut and give them access to her bank account.

Down by the river, just a little walk.

I’m pretty sure that this woman was (very briefly) one of my coworkers last summer, before she got a better job and left, and I got another job and left. If this was the same person I’m thinking of, she seemed like a very levelheaded young woman, not the sort to get caught up with a criminal. But of course plenty of people leave their problems at home and don’t bring them to the job. Her bakery coworkers also thought highly of her, when they spoke to reporters while she was still missing. They knew something was wrong when she missed a shift, because she was always on time, ever since she got the job last summer.

They’re still looking for the body of little Zaden. Please pray for the success of the searchers, and for the souls of everybody caught up in this sad little ballad.


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