George Banks went on his Wilkes-Barre and Plains Township killing spree 30 years ago today.
Some thoughts from then and now...
At the time, I was "swing man" at WARM 590 and a senior in college. I was a news person when WARM needed one, and a jock at other times.
I was in bed, asleep, with a horrible head cold that day. Terry McNulty from the station called, waking me up, and asking me to come in well before my Saturday evening shift. I knew nothing about the shootings until Terry told me.
I got to the studio in Avoca as fast as I could. My job was to handle the requests for information and audio from out-of-town radio stations. Remember, we did everything over the phone back then. There was no e-mail, or sending audio files over the internet. There was no internet. If memory serves, I was on stations in Cleveland, Atlanta, and a few other major cities. It gave Terry an opportunity to concentrate on his WARM newscasts.
After a fast dinner break, I was on the air for a late Saturday night disc jockey shift. It was odd-- trying to do a normal show when so many people, including children, were dead.
After work, early Sunday morning, I recall going out for some newspapers. Back then, the Sunday Independent was the only game in town, but the Times~Leader and the Citizens Voice both put out special editions.
George Banks was later tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. He got a fair trial. Mental illness keeps Banks from being executed. The experts say that mental illness keeps getting worse, and it's unlikely George Banks will ever pay the ultimate price for what he did, the price a jury of his peers believed was just.
This could have been avoided if appeals were carried out in a timely manner.
Banks and his attorneys manipulated the system, masterfully. I don't blame them. The system is ripe for manipulation. The lawyers were only doing their job.
The system is broken.