As a writer, I often feature violence in my work. I write about the dark side of humanity, the evil sometimes living within our own walls. But that’s fiction. Late Saturday afternoon I learned about the death of a man I met several years back who had touched so many lives in a remarkable way. John Upton was an Emmy-winning filmmaker who was shot and killed Thursday afternoon in his own yard in Encinitas, California. The police didn’t have to go far to find John’s alleged killer. It seems it was his next door neighbor. John was alledgedly shot because of a dispute over–shrubbery. Yes, you read that correctly. An argument about trimming trees. I do love growing things, that includes my trees, but I’m not going to take out my 9-millimeter pistol and take a human life over plants. I’m not. Break into my house, that’s another matter. But trimming hedges. Uh-uh.
I know we live in a violent and mean world. It isn’t new. In fact, it’s as old as time. I often spend hours doing research where I usually uncover incredibly sadistic and cruel people who inhabit our own neighborhoods and walk down our streets. They do horrible things to others. They often do those things to children. So much so, that I’m inspired to expose that dark side and bring it out into the light. But John Upton’s death is not part of a fictional scene. John’s murder hit home and it hit hard.
What I know about John Upton is that he was a bright, caring, talented individual who took it upon himself in 1990 to rescue kids from their horrible living conditions in Romania. He inspired people to do better.
John Upton will be missed. My heart goes out to his brother and the rest of the Upton family. I share their hearbreak and pain.
If you want to know more about John and the impact he had, take a look at his ABC 20/20 interview I posted from YouTube.