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Published: Tuesday, 10/19/2004

The vilest of crimes

IT IS one of the most brutal and mindless acts of violence in this city's recent history. What sort of numbness to human life must a person feel to drop a 24-pound metal plate from an East Toledo bridge onto an oncoming vehicle, killing a motorist below?

This senseless and destructive act took the life of 42-year-old Dorothy Minggia, who was on her way home from work late at night and was guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Two young adults and a 14-year-old juvenile have been charged in the incident. One of the adults, confronted by former guardians with whom he still lived, agreed to turn himself in. They called police, who in turn found the man's accomplices.

These guys allegedly have made a hobby of breaking windows in parked cars as well as tossing rocks into traffic. They either had no sense of the damage they could do, or, lacking a conscience, didn't care.

Jamie Pacheco, 20, who faces murder charges for allegedly doing the actual tossing, has in the past taken pictures of the windows he shattered, according to a family friend. The second adult, Mike Manning, 21, was charged with vandalism and the youth with delinquency.

Whether those who perpetrated this senseless act intended to kill someone or saw the prank as simply destructive vandalism is irrelevant now. They had to know the potential for deadly harm was there.

Ms. Minggia's death underscores the importance of wire barriers that have been erected on many of Toledo's overpasses, particularly on the expressways. But more attention clearly needs to be paid to overpasses on streets less traveled.

Police say that for weeks they've been investigating reports of objects tossed from overpasses. It's too soon to know if the rash of dropping heavy objects from Toledo overpasses will end with these arrests.

But the horrid results of this fatal episode should be a deterrent. It should be discussed in homes, schools, churches, and places where young people with too much time on their hands congregate.

Anyone, regardless of age, who thinks this sort of senseless violence is cool, should watch the outcome of this case. If there are convictions, the penalties should come down hard on the culprits.

Because of their mischief, an innocent Toledoan died. The price paid by those who are found responsible must be as severe as the law allows.



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