Monday, September 07, 2015

Head Shot

Book Review:" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">Head Shot
" />Head">">Head Shot by Burl">">Burl Barer

My rating: 3">">3 of 5 stars

Head Shot.  By Burl Barer.  

This book is a true crime story.  It is about one of the most infamous murder investigations in my home town of Tacoma, Washington in 1984.  The reason I bought the book is because I knew one of the victims in the murder case against Paul St Pierre, Chris St. Pierre, and Anthony Web.  The book sat on my shelf for quite a while before I broke down and started reading it.  Some of the pictures in the middle of the book were very gruesome.  I did not know Damon Wells, one of the victims who was brutally murdered by the three perpetrators and his body moved the next day and buried in a shallow grave near Mt. Rainier.  My heart goes out to family and friends of Damon who still deal with their loss today.  Johnny Achord was my friend.  In fact, I was his Pastor.  I was a bi-vocational preacher when I met Johnny.  We worked at Tacoma Goodwill Industries.  I was Supervisor in the Maintenance Department.  Johnny was assigned to my department as a “client” and I worked closely with him.  He had been severely injured in a car wreck and was resuscitated at the scene by medics.   When he came out of his coma, brain damage was evident and he had to re-learn a lot of things.  When Johnny learned that I was a Pastor, he was thrilled.  He started attending services where I preached.  He gave a good testimony of how God saved his physical life in the car wreck but He was also trusting Christ as his savior and was saved spiritually speaking too.  The church authorized me to baptize Johnny and he became a faithful member of the congregation.  Later, Opal Bitney, his mother also joined the church and remained a member until her death.  Johnny could not carry a tune but was willing to try and I fondly remember his efforts at singing “Amazing Grace” as a special in our services.  When Johnny “disappeared” we ALL knew something was wrong.  The authorities told us “Lots of kids run away” but they did not know Johnny like we did.  Rather than wasting time for the three days before they would even file a missing person report, we printed out a flyer with Johnnies picture on it and saturated the city including the notification of the commanding officer on Ft. Lewis where word was also distributed of Johnnies “disappearance.”  Barer does a fine job of setting things in order for the complicate story.   With the media blackout and my working a job, I was not aware of a lot of the intrigue in this case.  There are statements made by certain characters in the book that are not consistent with what I know about John Achord.  Johnnie may have been slow but he knew better than to bring a little pocket knife up against a 45 caliber handgun.  The story by some Pierce County Jail inmate about seeing Johnny the night of the Rush Concert is totally out of character.  The description of a drug crazed person talking to non-existent people is either a total fabrication or the man did not know street preaching when he saw it.  Johnny loved the Lord and was always witnessing for Him everywhere he went.  The pockets of his Army Surplus Field Jacket were always filled with gospel tracts.  I heard from one source that the night Johnny was killed, Gospel tracts were scattered around the St. Pierre house.  I will never forget May 18th – not only because of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, but because of the loss of my faithful brother in Christ, John Achord.  I have told flock at the Lord’s Baptist Church on more than one occasion that we have had a modern day martyr in our congregation.  That is the way I remember John “The Baptist” Achord.  I preached his funeral when we laid his headless body to rest at Mt. View Memorial Park. 

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