Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lauren Burk and Auburn University

First, I am glad that largely by luck the murderer of Lauren Ashley Burk was apprehended.

That is about the last nice thing I have to say on her murder, Auburn campus security or the handling of her case by local authorities in Alabama.

First, let me address Auburn University. Auburn has two responsibilities, one, keep its students safe when on campus and two, educate them. It is hard to educate students when they are kidnapped on campus, robbed, humiliated and then murdered when they try to escape. Lauren Burk was taken from a university dorm parking lot. From what I understand, this parking lot is actually one of the better parking lots on campus. It makes me wonder what would happen in one of the bad parking lots. The reality is Auburn is busy worrying about building new gyms for the basketball team with fancy suites or how many games its football team will win. Hey Auburn, here's a crazy idea put a damn guard in these parking lots after dark. Or if money is an issue, have a student at a front desk in the dorm lobby to escort these young women out to their cars. Auburn does not even have campus security. How does a university the size of Auburn not employ a campus security? Through Auburn's inattentiveness to security, Lauren Burk will never again call home, walk through her front door in Marietta, kiss her boyfriend or talk to her friends again. Her younger brother will never benefit from her advice, her older sister never share sisterly moments, her parents never enjoy her infectious smile and personality.

As far as local authorities, early in the case, they said the student body and local community were not in danger. On what did they base this hypothesis? The fact someone was shot and left to die in the street like an animal? Auburn says early on they had a photo of the suspect? What good did this photo do sitting on someone's desk? Get it out to the damn media. You think the suspect didn't hear within a day Lauren died. Would he have been more dangerous with her picture released? Of course not. The public was left defenseless to a murderer in its midst. So the question to me is were the local authorities lying when they said the public was not in danger or just ignorant? Was Auburn pulling an Aruba and trying to protect future student enrollment just like Aruba tried to protect tourism in the Natalee Holloway case? When Auburn said the public at large was safe was their theory a member of Lauren's circle had done this? To me it is clear you can not tell the public they are safe and at the same time know Lauren was robbed, almost raped and murdered. So which is it? Were you lying or just incompetent?

On the suspect, Courtney Lockhart and I call him a suspect only because the case has not been tried that supposedly a confession exists. He must be put to death for the heinousnous of the crime. He had every opportunity to simply rob Lauren Burk if that was his intention. He had gotten her ipod and debit card, why didn't he walk away? Most likely his intention was more sinister. Later he would force her to undress and humilate her only to murder her in cold blood when she tried to get away. And when he did shoot her, did he call an ambulance? Of course not. For the totality of his crime, he must die.

Auburn University, you failed Lauren Burk in every way the night of March 4, 2008. Local authorities you too failed Ms. Burk and the community at large.

It was disgusting to hear you at the press conference on Saturday, March 8, 2008 pats yourselves on the back for what great work you all had done. You failed Lauren Burk. Someone should never have been able to come into and most likely stalk a parking lot on campus, waiting for a victim, kidnap them, murder them, bring their car back and set in on fire without any campus or community law enforcement seeing anything.

It would seem maybe it was Lauren's time given that nothing in a chain of events that night saved her life. I understand life flight couldn't come to the scene as the weather was too bad to get the helicopter up. Regardless, it was much to soon for an 18 year old girl with a jubilent personality to lose her life.

I hope the Auburn administration rather than having secret meetings to oust a football coach instead focuses it's attention on a severly lacking on campus security situation. I hope the local authorities have learned valuable lessons as well as to how to properly run a murder investigation.

I also wish that rather than cover something salacious like a Governor having sex, I wish the media would use their resources to ask the same questions I have asked in this blog.

Even over a week later in this day and age of ADD/ADHD, this case and the loss of Lauren Burk deeply saddens me.


Anonymous said...

Auburn actually does have campus security and students (male or female) always have the option to call someone to escort them to their cars. This is true at the library, the dorms, and other buildings on campus.

Unfortunately, many of the students at Auburn forget that Auburn is not a bubble. Because there is such school spirit and familial feeling, we let our guards down and are not always as careful as we should be. We genuinely feel like campus is our home and the town of Auburn is our backyard. Just as you would not expect someone to be hiding in the shadows of your own backyard, we do not expect to be harmed in ours.

Auburn students were notified and kept abreast of the issue. We were told that we were not in danger because the crime was likely random and neither the initial act of a killing spree nor a serial incident.
We were safer in the days following Lauren's death than we have ever been because of an increased presence of both Auburn City Police and campus security officers and because we were all reminded of the potential dangers we face--not just in Auburn but wherever we go. We were reminded to be cautious and aware of our surroundings and we were reminded of what can happen if we continue to believe that Auburn is a bubble. THIS is why we were told that we were not in immediate danger.

The investigation was a multidiscipline one. That means the city police, FBI, ABI were equally responsible for what went on. If you'd like to bash one, you may as well bash them all.

Could this tragedy have been prevented? Maybe. Is it the fault of the university or of the city of Auburn? No.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Auburn in 1966 and they had campus security back then. Young people think they are always safe and sometimes forget the dangers of today's world. Lauren just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I also live in the vicinity of Lauren's hometown and my children went to the same high school as she did. If you want to complain about something, why not complain about the maniacs who protested at her services like they do military funerals. AU is a great school and there's nothing wrong with their great football team and building a new basketball arena to attract good players. Do not bash Auburn. Looks throughout this country and you can see hundreds of college kids who have been abducted and killed. Bash the criminal system that lets these murderers back on our streets.

CRS said...

Campus security was discontinued at Auburn. This is not to see they do not have patrols, they do. Most schools have a substation with a campus security service in addition to the local prevailing authority.

As far as the nuts who protested at her funeral, thats all they are nuts, not worthy of my time.

Auburn is a fine school and obviously you have missed the point of my post. The point being Auburn does need to do much more in the way of security. As well, the local law enforcement need to be better as well.

As an alumni 1966, you should want Auburn to be the best school it can and as I said before it is hard to educate students when they are dead.

This is not bashing Auburn, only offering a point a view that has not been discussed enough.

To 7:51, I can again appreciate the love you have for your school just as 1966 obviously loves Auburn as well. I get that. Again, Auburn does NOT employ its own campus security, it was discontinued. It is wonderful that you look at Auburn as your "backyard", but just as I am responsible for securing my grounds via security systems, etc. - Auburn is responsible for doing the same and obviously Auburn security has some shortcomings. Obviously, the crime was not random as police may have speculated, incorrectly I might add, as Lockhart had been on a crime spree in GA and AL, how was he caught, he tried to rob and carjack someone. The city police always take the lead in these investigations and that is why I am critical of their performance. The FBI, etc. is their largely for profiling, lab work etc. that many small departments are not well suited for.

In closing just because this has happened at other schools that is not a reason for it to be acceptable.

Anonymous said...

I do believe Lauren's kidnapping/robbery/murder was random. Unfortunately, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt seriously that Lockhart knew or cared who she was--only that, as a typical college student, she was probably carrying Daddy's money. Perhaps you're right--maybe the APD should employ a psychic--maybe all police departments should. Then they would have something other than gut feeling, years of experience, and good judgment to fall back on. Hey, maybe they should employ you!

Campus security actually wasn't discontinued. It was combined with the municipal PD. There is still a team of officers assigned specifically to the campus, and they do have a presence on campus. (And in fact, they did even before Lauren's death.)

As an Auburn student who has employed the after hours escort several times from both the library and one of the dorms, I can assure you, it exists, and Lauren had the option--just like everyone else. And just like hundreds of other students every day, for whatever reason, she chose not to call for an escort. I don't mean to imply that she was to blame, but you really have to acknowledge that the University cannot force students to be as careful as they should be. They can only offer the services.

Perhaps what most offended us was your tone and the assumptions you made about the quality of our law enforcement. Auburn is not some hick college in some hick town. Proper procedures were followed and proper precautions were taken. Lauren's murderer was in custody within a week. This is actually fairly remarkable and would be even in a large city where crimes like these often go unpunished. You're right: the Auburn police didn't actually apprehend Lockhart. He was arrested by a neighboring department. But what you call "luck" was actually the system working exactly as it was designed. An all-points-bulletin was issued for Lockhart, and he was brought in.

Finally, I realize "anger" is a stage of grief, but yours is misdirected. Neither the city of Auburn nor Auburn University dropped the ball on this one.

CRS said...

A psychic? No - as I said, put a guard in some of these parking lots atleast after dark. Auburn charges plenty for out of state, they can afford a security guard or an off duty officer looking to make some extra money.

According to the police, they had a picture but they did NOT know who they were looking for. It is lucky for them Lockhart tried to rob someone else and was apprehended as Auburn would still probably not have a clue who they were looking for.

Auburn does have some security issues and they need addressing, bottom line.

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