Friday, April 25, 2008

Survivors (Most Likely) Include: Thoughts on the Sueppel Murders

I was actually typing away at a café up the street from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Iowa City while mourners were walking to the Sueppel family's funeral Mass on Saturday March, 29th, but I didn't know that there were four adopted children involved until days later. I was up late writing, as I like to do when the house is quiet, and I just happened to pick up The Gazette from Sunday, the 30th, that had the above photos on the bottom half of the front page. My blood ran cold at the sight of the white couple and the Asian children who were bludgeoned to death by the husband.

It wasn't until days after that that I found out that I wasn't alone in my outrage: "How many seriously have to die before we all start demanding changes in adoption? How many children have to be hurt before the adoption industry is held accountable for their actions in the placement of these children?"

The story made national and international headlines, particularly in Korea: "An embattled former bank executive committed suicide by crashing his van after killing his wife, failing to asphyxiate their four children in a garage then slaying them individually, authorities in Iowa said."

Steven Sueppel, the alleged thief and multiple murderer, was once heralded locally as a "humanitarian" because he and his late wife had adopted the now-dead children. The repeated purchasing of Asian children, however, seems more like obsessive consumerism than an act, or acts, of altruism.

Another article from The Gazette, written by Diane Heldt and published on the 28th, contained the following two gruesome details: "A black bat, a blue bat and a piece of skull bone and biological tissue found in the main level hallway were among the items taken by Iowa City police officers from the home of Steven and Sheryl Sueppel in Iowa City Monday." In the van with Steven Sueppel's body were found "social security cards that were partly burned and a permanent resident card and passport from Korea for Jinhee Choi, according to the search warrant."

No efforts will be made by the adoption agency to contact surviving relatives of any of the dead children back in Korea as, clearly, this would be bad for business.