A horrific crime in 1927, now largely forgotten, has some eerie parallels with the tragedy in Newtown CT last weekend. Andrew Kehoe, a disgruntled school handyman and one-time school district treasurer in Bath Township, Michigan, planted massive explosives at an elementary school and blew up the building, killing 45 people, 38 of them schoolchildren. It remains the largest mass murder at a school in US history.
He had planned the crime for months, wiring the building and loading it with lethal explosives. After killing his wife and blowing up his own house, he detonated explosives at the school, then drove to the school and blew up his car and himself and the school’s superintendent.
Why is this Lindbergh news? Well, it isn’t, really. But the date of the Bath school explosion was May 18, 1927–just two days before Lindbergh took off on his historic flight to Paris, obliterating all other news stories in the day’s media. The swift obscurity of the tragic news from Bath may also have something to do with the fact that it occurred in such a small town, in the nation’s “flyover” lands (before there were many people flying over it). The immensity of the Lindbergh media phenomenon has a lot to do with the jumping-off point– New York City, center of the media universe–and the landing point: Paris, the world’s most glamorous capital. A mass murder of children in a small town in Michigan couldn’t compete with those sensational facts.