One quiet June night back in 1990 my regular midnight swim was disrupted by a sinister Mexican standing and staring at me through the gate. This made me furious. I walked over in my bathing suit and called him a pig, gave him the finger, then stalked upstairs and stayed awake til dawn reading and typing. Sometime during those hours, Cerrelle Belt, the nineteen year old psychology major in the apartment above me was raped and strangled to death by an unknown assailant. They caught him this week, and he’s a suspect in at least one other woman’s murder.
The girl’s father went to his death with his one consuming desire unfulfilled, that they’d find his daughter’s killer before he died.
A relative told the Lampasas Dispatch Record that Mr. Belt clung to a promise by an Austin police officer, who said, “I’m going to solve this case if it takes the rest of my life.”
That is a fact. I spent hours with this detective and I had nothing to give him, though he’s checked back with me over the last sixteen years to go over that night in the hope of unearthing some significant recollection. I had to struggle not to invent, such was the pressure and frustration at the uselessness of my best efforts, which led to nothing but guilty bad sleep and a belief that this cop’s file would never be closed.
He made a strange woman’s murder a neighbor’s problem and that took balls. I praise his tenacity at the same time I ponder its source in the case of this young, blonde and all American honor’s student who, by all accounts was so clean she squeaked:
“Cerrelle was a true victim,” the police sergeant said. “She was in her own apartment, minding her own business when she was attacked. She was not doing anything to put herself at a high risk. She was brutally attacked.”
“She was a beautiful singer and a beautiful person,” a relative said in a telephone interview this week. “She could sing like a canary.”
And a male classmate recalls her
“… as one of the most affable, friendly persons I knew… “she was nice to everyone….”Of all the people you would have thought that could have happened to, she would not have been on the list.”
I would have been on that list.
These hypothetical comparisons between wholesome victims and sleazy victims make me sick. That’s why it’s called “random murder”, since there is nothing the victim can do to prevent it, including being “good”, no victim should ever be implicated in her own rape and murder, regardless of the particulars.
Just stop rewarding women, period. You do it for the wrong reasons that sound great when she’s dead.
Til that day comes, justice be granted whatever its driving force, may father and daughter rest in peace.