Two young, promising lives were taken early this week. Tiffany York, 17, of Midway and Michael Roark, 20, of Fort Stewart died in what police are calling a double homicide.
Their bodies were found Tuesday afternoon near Morgan Lake in Long County. Investigators believe they were killed Monday night or early Tuesday. The police are not saying yet what they believe led to the tragedy.
It’s obvious that the deaths would devastate the young peoples’ families. But, unfortunately, investigators’ actions added to the agony suffered by at least one of the families.
Investigators visited Brenda Thomas’ Midway home Tuesday evening, asking questions about her daughter, Tiffany York. Brenda’s other children also were asked about Tiffany’s friends and life.
Tiffany’s dad, Wes, was notified as he was driving his big rig across Tennessee on his way to Louisiana. He dropped the tanker trailer he was hauling near Nashville and deadheaded home, arriving about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
When investigators talked with Brenda, they said it was likely her daughter was one of the victims. Brenda remembers they gave her a percentage of likelihood. But the lawmen did not give the family confirmation of Tiffany’s death until Thursday morning. Repeated phone calls to and from the investigators could not get the family more information for nearly two days. The investigators kept saying complications in identifying the victims delayed confirmation.
At one point Wednesday, a local funeral home called Wes to say the coroner in Macon, where Tiffany had been taken for autopsy, had called to say her body would be released to the funeral home Thursday. But investigators still would not confirm the victim was Tiffany.
We realize police officers have to have hardened emotions to deal with the tragedies they see. And we know the officers handling this case would not intentionally inflict more pain on the victims’ survivors. But the officers have to realize the lack of information tortured the Thomases for more than a day.
Personal visits with updates and expressions of sympathy for the family might not have softened the blow for Tiffany’s loved ones, but it couldn’t have hurt. Budget constraints may make such personal contact impossible.
It is pretty obvious, however, that this case could have been handled better and that some changes need to be made to take survivors’ emotions into consideration.