Thomas Charles Fuller II. Another important man in my life. I’ve never met him, I never want to meet him and I hope I never do meet him. Thomas Charles Fuller is serving two consecutive prison terms of 70 to 99 years somewhere. I really don’t care where as long as he stays there. He was denied parole for the 13th time today with the Parole Board vote of 14-0 to deny parole. Good on them.
In the spring of 1968, I was five years old. I was going to be an opera singer. I drew, colored pictures, played in the grass with my dog, Susie So-So. Don’t ask me where I got her name, but she was my best friend. Mom told me, just in the last few weeks, that we got Susie from a cousin of Dad’s that raised Dalmatians, Tom Speer. Tom had been born with Cerebral Palsy and a heart as big as the world. I was lucky enough to work for Tom when he lived in a group home for which I was responsible. He passed away last month. He was a good man and I am better for knowing him.
As an only child (Mom was pregnant with my sister Tonya that summer) Susie was my best friend and at one point, which I can’t remember, she brought 101 Dalmatians home to me! She delivered a huge litter of puppies one season and I was in Heaven. I remember trying to contain all of the puppies my sandbox giggling and failing miserably all at the same time. A sea of sand, white ears and pink bellies all at once trying to tackle and lick me while trying to escape the sand pit. I think those puppies wore Susie out. I don’t remember what happened to her, but I know it wasn’t good. I just remember hugging her and loving her with all of my heart.
During that same spring 18-year old Thomas Charles Fuller was spending time with his 16-year old girlfriend’s family. The Cox family was a large one. They had 12 children, nine of which still lived at home in 1968. They lived in a farmhouse just off of Dole Road. Dole Road is the local name for a long road that intersects on the South end with Rt. 121 and crosses the Kaskaskia River on the North end. They lived about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile south of the river just above the floodplain. We lived about three miles just North and West of the river if you follow the roads. Their house is gone and has been for years. I just checked Google Maps and they have updated their maps recently because the house I grew up in is gone as well. You can still see where it had been from the tracks in the field. Time plows on.
On Saturday, April 27 of that year, Thomas Charles Fuller II was following through with plan to impress his girlfriend. He didn’t get to complete the plan, but he made an impression none the same. With nine kids at home, the Cox house was a busy place. There was shopping to be done and as on this day, someone was bound to get hurt. One of the girls burned herself on the stove and needed to go to the hospital for treatment. A couple of the boys had gone hunting. Apparently Thomas came in later in the day and told his girlfriend he had “killed five little birds” and asked her to come look. She didn’t approve of killing birds and wouldn’t come out. He went out and asked for a ride home from her mother saying he would come back later.
According to a written report by William Cox, father of the family, there was a call to gather the family at dinner. Of course, being children, not all responded to the call and scouts were sent out to bring everyone in the house. Theresa, age 9, and Mary, age 8, were found in the corn crib. Louis, age 16; Gary, age 7; and Kenneth, age 5 were found in the long grass about 15 feet from the corn crib. All had been shot. Thomas Charles Fuller II had planned to kill the whole family, so Louis’ twin sister would only have to love him. The final outcome to the proposed plan apparently was for him to lure another boy to the farm, kill him and blame him for the murders. Apparently, Thomas had as much luck trying to keep all of the Cox family in line with the plan as I was having trying to keep puppies in the sandbox.
Mom says she heard each of the gunshots that day out hanging laundry. It made an impression on her as it wasn’t hunting season and you pay attention to sounds like that when you live in the country. She also says that when she found out what happened, she felt my sister drop inside of her as if the sorrow was too great for the baby’s soul to handle. Apparently, people raced to our house because Mom was pregnant and they hadn’t found Thomas Fuller yet.
What I do remember is knowing my parents were extremely upset, all the men from the neighborhood and their families were at our house and we, the children were put in the room facing the garden to stay safe. Every man had a loaded shotgun or rifle, maybe a couple of the women as well. I don’t remember the interactions with the other children, but I do remember peeking through the blinds on the window watching for the bad man. Waiting for him to come and kill me too. We didn’t know much, and the adults weren’t going to tell us much, but kids hear a lot and we heard he killed kids.
Twelve hundred people showed up to pay their respects to the family. I can’t imagine what they went through, dealing with the loss of five children and having to deal with that many people. I know a large turnout is supposed to be comforting to the family, and it is, but it is also physically and psychologically draining. People come to comfort, some people come to see, and others come with their own agendas and expectations. Especially in situations like this.
I posted his picture here. Doesn’t look like a crazy fuck does he? No Charles Manson there. Do you realize Charles Manson didn’t actually physically kill anyone? This guy did. This guy looked into the faces of five children and shot them to make his girlfriend love only him. He looked at a five-year old, not just any five-year old, but one he knew, played with and cared for and pulled the trigger. Think about that when you look at your child, your niece or nephew, or grandchild around that age.
He looks just like someone you would see in line a Wendy’s or the fumbling bachelor trying to find items in the grocery store you help out. Not to seem too paranoid, but they walk among us all of the time. Most don’t carry out those dark, desperate plans best played out in the recesses of a socially diseased mind. Most just keep moving, reining in the desires and temptations that frighten even them. Not Thomas Charles Fuller II, he caressed those desires, fed the fantasies, danced with the demons that came to him and if his full plan had been completed, would have been shocked, shocked I tell you that anyone could have done such a thing. I don’t remember reading about regret, other than being caught, or remorse.
Mr. Fuller can stay in prison. He didn’t just kill five little birds, his actions spread like a stone in water. I know my life would never be the same after what he did and many other lives were changed as well. Crazy is as crazy does and that kind of crazy needs to be isolated from society.