The boy who gave me my first kiss is now in the Napa State Hospital for committing my hometown’s first murder in thirteen years.
My husband says this isn’t the way to start the story. “You should start it with a description of the Napa State Hospital, build up to it, get some tension going,” he says.
Well, I’ve never been to the Napa State Hospital, though I have visited enough locked mental-health facilities to imagine what it might look like, and I’ve tried to write this down for nearly a year, so now that I’ve started, I’m going to stick with my first sentence: The boy who gave me my first kiss is now in the Napa State Hospital for committing my hometown’s first murder in thirteen years.
The murder was so illustrious, so bizarre, that you probably read about it in your local paper, or saw it on your network-news affiliate. My BFF saw it on TV and she lives outside of Houston, for God’s sake. So yeah, it was a pretty big deal.
Part of the news appeal stems from the small-town aspect, aka what passes for nostalgia in 2010. Clayton, California is what Agatha Christie would don a sleepy hamlet of eleven-thousand souls. It's true: even people who have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area all their lives haven’t heard of it. I know this because I lived there for 10 years growing up, and now when I go back home and am out and about and tell people that I grew up in Clayton, they invariably say, “Where’s that?” I tell them it’s near what used to be called the Concord Pavilion, and that lots of Mormons live there, and that (not coincidentally) I was the only only-child in at least a three-mile radius.
Clayton achieved nationwide fame on March 10, 2009, when Raymond Casso was stabbed to death by Shannon Bradley Moore.
Raymond Casso had just turned 73 years old the previous Tuesday. By all accounts, he was a hell of a guy: Rotarian, Salvation Army bell-ringer, married for 47 years, three kids, four grandchildren, at least one of whom attends the same junior-high where I was student-body president. Casso was at the Clayton Post Office on Saturday, March 7, getting his business mail from his post-office box. He was murdered at 11:00 in the morning.
Shannon Bradley Moore, who had given me my first kiss 29 years earlier, was at the post-office counter, trying to exchange some old postage stamps for cash. San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Demian Bulwa reported that Moore had “a history of mental illness and may have acted out of frustration” after his stamps-for-cash exchange was thwarted by the postal clerk. That same clerk heard Casso plead with Moore not to attack him. Moore stabbed him in the face and neck, perhaps with a kitchen knife, or a steak knife.
Shannon Bradley Moore allegedly stabbed Raymond Casso to death inside the Clayton Post Office. You have to say “allegedly,” even though there were eyewitnesses who chased Moore across the street to Ed’s Mudville Grill, where he was subdued by local Samaritans until police arrived to arrest him.
Three days before my fifth wedding anniversary, Moore was charged with murder with an enhancement for the use of a knife. I got that from an article reposted to fugitive.com, even though “republication… without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.” (http://fugitive.com/archives/3106)
I live in Massachusetts — where, yes, they both often and unironically employ wicked as an adjective meaning evil or badass — now but still read my beloved San Francisco Chronicle online. They reported about the murder and my blood thickened. How many boys in Clayton were named Shannon? Not many. I stayed away from videos of the story because I knew one of them would eventually run a picture of the subject. The print media outsmarted me and ran a photo of a beefy man with a buzzed haircut, wearing a blood-flecked white T-shirt and a sneer that looks to me like demonic defiance, though my husband thinks it makes him look more like he has Down’s Syndrome.
Time changes people, sure, but it was the same guy; even if I had only seen him once before, his image stuck.
On December 23, a judge ruled that Moore was incompetent to stand trial. He resides at the Napa State Hospital, which used to be known as the Napa State Asylum for the Insane, and there’s been no recent report as to whether Moore continues to refuse to take his prescribed anti-psychotic medications.
Describe the night of Tiffany Rae’s party: two-minutes in the closet, Shannon and his taller, more attractive, water-polo-player looking blond friend, who I did eventually end up in the closet with, and when a girlfriend of mine opened the door 1.5 minutes in, she said, “Wow, you two were really going at it.” I don’t remember how Shannon and I ended up in the closet –- actually, it was a bathroom -– first, though I remember being disappointed that it wasn’t his friend instead, and how he shoved an enormous handful of M&Ms into his mouth on his way to the bathroom, so my first kiss tasted of chocolate and half-chewed candy coating, and ultimately I found him greedy and unpleasant and spent the rest of the party avoiding him and wondering where in the world Tiffany had met such an unseemly boy, as he didn’t go to our junior-high school.
You never forget your first kiss. It’s truer for some people than for others. It’s wicked true for me.