There is a reason that my children were never allowed to walk home from school by themselves or ride their bikes by themselves.
The reason is Chuckie Mauk.
I was in my early 20s in February 1986 and was gathered with some friends in a parking lot across from the bowling alley, talking and making plans for the evening when it seemed that every police car in the world came down Russell Parkway.
At the time, there was a bank on the corner of Russell and Burns Drive, so our initial thought was that the bank had been robbed. So being nosy and bored, we went across the street to find out what was going on.
A 13-year-boy, Chuckie Mauk, riding his bicycle home from the store where he had gone to buy candy, was shot to death a few blocks from his home. His killer has never been found.
It was the night this town lost its innocence in my opinion. I know some of my own was shattered that night. It also was the night that determined that my children, whose father I had not even met at the time, would never ride their bikes alone.
Chuckie’s birthday was last week, and he would have been 42 years old. The might-haves and what-could-have-beens that haunt his mother should haunt us all as well.
Instead of a grown man perhaps teaching school, perhaps working on the base, Chuckie Mauk has been frozen in time, that image of him in his red baseball uniform that flooded the news in the days, months and years after his murder.
I think about him, a young boy I never knew, when I enter what was the hardware store and is now a dollar store. I stood there one day last week, a day or two before Chuckie’s birthday, and the memories of what I saw, and what I might have seen, came flooding back.
A thousand times I have wondered about that night. What did I see, what did my friends see that we didn’t notice that night and should have? It was a day or two later before I heard about the car -- witnesses close to the scene described Chuck talking to a man in a white car -- and then I racked my brain -- had we seen it turn off of Burns? Did it pass right by my group?
Next year will be 30 years since a young boy was slain in our city streets. The case is still active, administered by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office since the area where Chuckie was slain was not in the city limits at the time.
If you have any information about the case, contact the Houston County Sheriff’s Office at 478-542-2085.
Alline Kent can be reached at 478-396-2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.