When news broke on the villainous doings of Carol and Donovan Lane I didn’t get caught up in it like so many others. I don’t know why. Sometimes extraordinary things have such a gloss about them it’s difficult to see past the glare they create.
Still and all the Lane siblings stirred up quite a spectacular fuss. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing about them. The list of crimes they were accused of orchestrating was nothing short of prodigious—identity fraud, wilful misconduct, criminal mischief, asset misappropriation, manslaughter, murder. Shocking bad shit. But the thing that really outraged people was that the Lanes had the audacity to target the old and infirm. That the Lanes had managed to elude the authorities seemed less important than the fact that they were both in their thirties. At least in the early days of the story. For some reason their ages made the nature of their alleged deeds worse.
Of course the call was out for any information related to the Lanes. Their photographs were everywhere. Usually the same picture. An older shot of them smiling on a ski trip. Both wearing toques and sunglasses. High-collared ski-jackets. Him holding a snowboard on his shoulder. Her with a hand clutching a pair of skis standing in snow. Their faces so poorly defined they could’ve been anyone.
Coverage of the story accelerated. Known and suspected aliases were published. The wheres and whens of their alleged activities presented in full page pictographs. Details on a few of the victims were disclosed—friends and relatives stepped forward to have their say on the wrongly done to and the dearly departed, relishing their chance to declare what an atrocity the whole affair was, how devastating. Naturally, the Lanes were castigated as monsters. They had to be. No way around it. To plot such a scheme.
Though information on the Lanes’ adult lives (beyond their spree of immorality) had yet to surface, reports did manage to reveal something of their upbringing—a broken home, troubled relations with foster parents, boarding schools, etc.
To put it mildly, the fifth estate was having a field day. And the general public couldn’t get enough.
Consensus had it that if the Lanes were on the run, or hiding, they couldn’t be innocent. No doubting what everyone thought. The collective mind had made its verdict. And God forbid what should happen to the Lanes were anyone to find them alive.
Headlines announced rewards. Large gatherings assembled. Sit-ins were staged. Bullhorns cried for justice. People wanted to know why the Lanes weren’t behind bars. Unauthorized manhunts were organized. Police tried to calm the thirst for vengeance. A court order against vigilanteism was proposed, which had the predictable effect of arousing greater antagonism among the more vocal, who called on their fellow citizens to rally together in this time of need.
Things became so heated that for a couple weeks there it seemed as though riots might erupt at any moment. They didn’t, thankfully. But where the Lanes were concerned, people seemed to take leave of their senses. They wanted blood. I don’t know what say to about that. What it says about us. Our culture. The kind of world we live in.
One thing I will say is that as much as I avoided the hype surrounding the Lanes, I was intrigued by how their story, or the collection of stories that were built up around them, captivated such a large and animate and, for the most part, united audience. How, for the two months or so that the Lanes had top billing, people allowed themselves to become part of an obsession that sped on into a brief civilian confusion and a kind of mass hysteria.
I don’t know what happened to prevent the chaos that threatened. But as quickly as the story of the Lanes gained momentum it fizzled out. Additional details were relegated to back pages and ceased to claim airtime on television or radio. For whatever reason the public was no longer interested.
In a manner of speaking, the Lanes, still at large, had weathered the storm.
And then, maybe two weeks later, I received a visit from a pair of federal agents. At my door they flashed their badges and asked if I was who I am.
I said that I was and asked to what I owed the pleasure. They said they wanted to ask me some questions about my involvement with Annabelle Ruthers.