Michelle Rowling knew she was going to die and told her mother and two young children through a Facebook post that she loved them.
Prosecutors said Montrell Cooper considered her his possession, cutting her throat once and not letting prison deter him from returning to cut it again and kill her. That wasn’t enough, so he risked the manhunt to set fire to the shrine her friends and family erected in her memory.
“If I can’t have you, no one will,” he once told her.
So much wrong with this story. So much potential blame to go around.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
We understand that a mom with two young children and living in public housing has few options. We get that escape was difficult. But Michelle Rowling knew she was likely to die and should have fled.
We don’t consider that blaming the victim. We see that as the primary responsibility: save yourself.
Who’s to blame? There are a lot of little pieces to that puzzle.
Judges Michael Cook, Robert Haida and Zina Cruse all had opportunities to help save Rowling. Probation, time served, anger management, orders of protection were all worthless defenses.
Prosecutors tried for five years to get Rowling to testify, but she was apparently afraid to go to court. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said prosecutors can still go after an abuser without the victim’s cooperation.
“But if we have evidence we must act because the consequences can be unspeakable,” he said.
Then there are the rest of us. We see the potential, but nod and try not to engage with the ones on a hair trigger. We don’t react enough to the victims with sunglasses indoors and long sleeves in summer.
We fail to do something about the cry for help on Facebook.