Some people make me ashamed to share the same species with them. Unfortunately for me, I share not only a species, but also the same first name with one Gregory Johns.
OK, I don’t share that anymore. Johns met his end recently at, appropriately enough, the Trail’s End Motel in Treasure Island, Fla.
According to news and police reports, two Pinellas County deputy sheriffs fatally shot Johns in the motel after he charged them wielding a knife.
As a journalist I’ve learned this about police reports: sometimes they actually give an accurate recounting of events. Other times, not so much.
This is one of the times I’ll have to go with the official police version of events.
In late August, Johns accompanied his girlfriend and her 11-year-old daughter to the hospital. The girl was having abdominal pain.
Doctors discovered the girl was pregnant; Johns asked the girlfriend for the keys to her car so he could go buy some cigarettes.
That was the last she saw of the guy.
Some time later a man robbed a couple walking in a St. Petersburg, Fla., park at knifepoint. According to police and news reports, Johns left a letter at the scene of that crime apologizing for getting the 11-year-old girl pregnant.
Now wasn’t that nice of him? Yes, he did sexually assault and impregnate an 11-year-old girl. But he was sorry about it and apologized. That makes it all better, doesn’t it?
Of course it doesn’t. After the knife stickup Johns broke into the home of a 78-year-old woman and left her bound and gagged for 12 hours. Later that day, he called his girlfriend and apologized to her for sexually assaulting her daughter.
At the risk of being accused of blaming the victim, I feel compelled to point out that the girlfriend should have seen this coming. What did she think was going to happen when she started dating an ex-con with a criminal record, dating back to 1987, that included aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary and drug offenses?
I’m betting that Johns’ girlfriend doesn’t have any brothers. If she does, then she has brothers that didn’t look out for her. What good is having siblings of the opposite gender if the brothers can’t tell their sisters about men, or the sisters advise their brothers about women?
My mother had six children, three boys and three girls. (Once, after a quarrel with one of my sisters had left her completely frustrated, my mother told me, “I wish I’d have had six boys.” This was my reply: “Mom, you’d have had FIVE boys. I’d have run away from home.” Six boys in one house would have been a bit more testosterone than I could have tolerated.)
I had two older sisters – both now deceased, God rest their souls – and one six years younger than I am. When I was younger, all three had my back when it came to women.
The two older ones, in particular, would tell me which girls or women to steer clear of and which ones were worth my time. I don’t know if they gave this advice to my other two brothers, but maybe they had an inkling that their brother Greg didn’t know a darned thing about women.
They were right. Because of my two older sisters, I was able to steer clear of women like “The Black Widow.”
Seven years ago, when I was still a metro columnist for The Baltimore Sun, a first cousin of mine was murdered at a halfway house. I wrote an unkind column about the man that would be eventually convicted of the crime.
I got testy e-mails from some of his female relatives. He was completely innocent, they claimed. The fault was with his girlfriend, a woman they called “The Black Widow.”
“Every man she’s ever been with has ended up in jail or dead,” they groused.
“Hey,” I e-mailed them back. “That’s his fault. And, in a way, yours.”
My two older sisters would NEVER have let me get involved with a woman known as “The Black Widow.” They’d have whipped her butt, or whipped my butt, or whipped both our butts. Rest assured, some butt whipping would have been involved.
Guys need sisters to protect them from women like “The Black Widow.” Gals need brothers to protect them from men like Gregory Johns.
Wasn’t there any man in the life of Gregory Johns’ girlfriend that could have stepped up and saved her – and her daughter – from this guy?
Gregory Kane is an award-winning columnist and Pulitzer finalist who writes from Baltimore.