If you lived in Blue Earth or anywhere nearby, you probably easily remember Feb. 20, 2012.
That is the day word spread quickly that there had been a homicide in this quiet, small, southern Minnesota town.
Like most folks, I reacted first in shock, then in amazement and disbelief. To tell the truth, I doubted that it could possibly be true.
But, it turned out it was true.
Just three blocks from the Faribault County Register office, a murder had occurred.
As the details slowly were released, the shock for residents became almost a panic.
It was a home invasion, where a masked man had broken in, killed one person and injured several others.
Things like that don't happen in Blue Earth, or any other small town in Minnesota.
Unfortunately, even in the land of "Minnesota Nice" there are horrific and senseless acts of violence against people.
In Blue Earth on that fateful February day in 2012, people wanted to know two things. Who was killed? And who did it?
When authorities seemed to indicate it might be a random act of violence, real panic did indeed set in.
People locked their doors and many stayed home and maybe kept a weapon close by.
Quite a few people have told me they hardly slept for the next few nights, due to fear.
We have questioned in the past the decision by law enforcement to allow this panic to occur. However, in hindsight, it might have been all right to have everyone put on high alert.
Here at the Register, we were updating our website with breaking news several times a day. At least, with as much new information as we were able to get.
After all, it would be about a week before our next edition of the newspaper would hit the stands with the story. So, we were doing all we could to keep the citizens informed.
Hits on our website went to an all-time high.
Eventually the news came out with the information of who was involved both the victims and the perpetrator were named.
It was a story we covered in much detail. The crime itself, the arrest, the court proceedings, then the eventual decision and sentencing.
This week, we come to an end of that story, with an interview of Candice Freeman which you can find on the front page of this week's Register.
It may make you uncomfortable to read it. It sure made me uncomfortable to write it. It is a story of terror and horror. It wasn't easy to ask someone to relive their memory of something so awful.
There was a sense of invasion of that person's privacy.
After all, Candice Freeman and her family were thrust into the public spotlight through no fault of their own. And, a lot of that public scrutiny has not been pleasant.
Her willingness to share her feelings with us, and our readers, comes from a sense of wanting to answer all those questions, and perhaps to put an end to being in the public spotlight by being in the public one more time.
Our aim in writing it, and presenting it to you in the pages of this newspaper, is much the same. You might call it bringing closure to the case.
It was a hard story to write, and yet it was an easy one to write. Hard, because of the struggle I had with what to focus on. Easy, because it covered a story that needed to be told.
Once again, I will say how sorry I and many others are that this horrible and awful thing happened to members of our little community.
My sympathy and wishes for healing go out to Candice, her daughters and to all the members of Chris Fulmer's family.
No one should have to go through this type of horror and suffer from this kind of violence. But if they do, perhaps the support of family, friends and even strangers will help with the recovery and the healing.
And, that is what the purpose of sharing this story really is.
We need to help each other, as best we can. And, treasure each day we have together.