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Matt Von Pinnon, Published March 27 2011

Von Pinnon: Family of Dylan Cox also suffering from tragic losses

The family of Dylan Cox has been on my mind a lot this past week.

Dylan is the 17-year-old Amor, Minn., teen who last Monday night killed Tabitha Belmonte, his 16-year-old girlfriend and mother of his 7-month-old child. Dylan then turned the gun on himself.

Tabitha’s funeral is tomorrow. Friends and classmates gathered Thursday night and again on Friday morning at Perham’s school to publicly grieve and reminisce about the too-short life of the young mother.

Meanwhile, Dylan’s family and friends grieve in relative obscurity. Dylan’s memorial service was yesterday.

Our culture is such that we shun those associated with murder, the ultimate offense against civility. We also tend to narrowly define killers. We search for reasons as to why they are different from us, even if they’re not.

I was reminded of this on Wednesday, when Dylan’s dad and grandfather stopped by The Forum unannounced for a tense talk that ended abruptly with Dylan’s dad walking out.

In that day’s story about the murder-suicide, we included some information gleaned from Dylan’s Facebook page that listed murderer Charles Manson and the Church of Satan founder as “people who inspire” and made some other references to suicide.

We thought the information was relevant given the crime. Dylan’s dad strongly felt otherwise. He said the Facebook stuff was just a teen being a teen, and that it in no way reflected who his son was.

“My son was a good kid,” I recall him saying at one point.

And, you know what? I believe him. If Dylan was anything like his father, he probably was a good kid. A good kid who did a horribly bad thing. A good kid who made an irreversibly poor decision. A good kid whom his family terribly misses despite what the rest of the world may think of him these days.

As Dylan’s dad sat across from me, trying to convince me and the world that his son was much more than a cold-blooded killer, much more than just those outlandish Facebook entries, I couldn’t help but feel his immense pain and loss.

Here’s a man who less than 24 hours prior had to remove his only son from life support. A man who not only lost a son, but a likely future daughter-in-law, mother to his grandchild and almost like his own daughter. A man who heard the shots ring out under his own roof while he was rocking his new granddaughter to sleep. A man forced to witness his own wife and mother of Dylan helplessly try to save her son as he lay bleeding to death, all the while knowing Dylan caused it all to happen. Now add to that a potential custody fight for the young couple’s little girl, who has been living with Dylan’s parents since her birth. If granted custody, the middle-aged parents could be raising an infant child.

I’ve truly never encountered a sadder situation, and I’m certain I couldn’t withstand what Dylan’s family is going through.

So while Dylan did a horrible thing, and selfishly put his family in this horrific situation, Dylan’s family did not cause this to happen. Good kids sometimes make stupid, irreversible decisions despite our best efforts.

The situation Dylan caused is permanent. Ours is not. Dylan’s family needs our love and understanding more than ever right now.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579 or mvonpinnon@forumcomm.com