Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When violence touches your life June 2, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
I see grief in the grey tile, part of a “Love Remains” mosaic displayed on the exterior of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office. Barb Larson, a Chamber employee, was murdered there in 2016, shot to death by her ex-husband, a former Faribault police officer. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

I HAD A MUCH DIFFERENT POST planned for today. But then the identity of a homicide victim was released by the Rice County Sheriff’s Department and my focus shifted. I knew the 41-year-old man shot to death in neighboring Morristown early Tuesday morning. A suspect was arrested at the scene and has been charged with second-degree murder.

The victim, Brian, grew up two blocks away, where he and his sister lived with their grandparents. The siblings attended the same Christian day school as my children. The pair were older. On the occasional days the school bus didn’t run, their grandpa would stop to pick up my girls and all four kids rode to school together.

Much time has elapsed since then. Yet, I remember Brian, his short, slim frame and reddish hair. Many years have passed since I’ve seen him out and about walking around Faribault, always wearing a backpack. I have no idea what he did in life, but that connection to him and his family all those years ago means something. My heart hurts for his sister.


This isn’t the first time homicide has indirectly affected me. In May 2004, the father of a close friend was murdered. In May 2010, the sister of a blogger friend from Duluth was murdered by her ex-husband. In May 2013, a former neighbor’s daughter and unborn baby were killed by their husband/father.

Violence has touched my life too many times.


In May 1999, a SWAT team swept through my neighborhood searching for a knife used in the stabbing death of a 19-year-old some two blocks from my house.

On another occasion, a breathless young man showed up on our doorstep one evening, pleading for us to let him inside. Randy and I refused, not wanting to put ourselves or our family in danger. Instead I called 911. As I begged the police to hurry, a group of men rounded the corner of our house obviously looking for the guy at our door. That they didn’t dash up our front steps and attack him still surprises me all these years later. The potential for violence was real. Eventually law enforcement arrived and left with the young man safely inside a squad car.

And then there was the middle-of-the-night awakening to a woman across the street screaming for help. Screaming for someone to call 911, which I did. Again, I urged officers to hurry. Eventually police arrived as did an ambulance. I never learned what happened on that night all those years ago, only that no one died.

When I count all of these violent acts to which I have been indirectly exposed, I consider the number high. I expect most of you have never known a murder victim (or a murder victim’s family) or had to call 911 to report a crime in progress. I’m thankful if that fits you.


I’ve learned a few things through these experiences. I’ve learned that, no matter who you are or where you live, violence can touch you personally. And when it does, you find the strength, the resolve, the ability to do something. That may mean making a 911 call. That may mean showing up with food and a hug and doing anything you can to support a friend. That may mean mailing an encouraging card, phoning, texting, emailing. Remembering. For those families who’ve lost loved ones to acts of violence, remembering is vitally important. Their lives are forever changed and they need our love and support.

These are my thoughts today as I consider how violence has, once more, indirectly entered my life.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “When violence touches your life”

  1. beth Says:

    this gave me chills. you are so right, and sadly, I think most of us have some personal connection to victims of violent acts. I’m so sorry for the loss of your long time friend. and for all who are victims of any sort of violence.

  2. Jane Larson Says:

    …and another mass shooting just yesterday in Tulsa. But let’s not do anything about gun control in this country. Certainly, Congress will continue to discuss and disagree and do nothing. And gun violence carried out in the hands of men will continue.

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Too many scary moments for you my friend! I have not personally experianced these kinds of things around my home, but working in the ER brought many victims of violence to us, some never made it through the doors.

    • Jackie, I can only imagine the horrible results of violence which you witnessed. Thanks for being there for the victims and their families. I have no doubt that you showed exceptional care and compassion in the ER.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about Brian. What a tragedy. I must admit I don’t really think about safety as much as I probably should – have always felt safe every where we lived but you are absolutely correct. Violence can touch us anywhere. Prayers for his grieving family and friends–he was way too young and to die a violent death is horrible to imagine.

  5. Sandra Says:

    Difficult to become conditioned to violence, you have developed great strengths and faith. I’m still workin’ at it. Carl and Lucille Stoeckel were at Trinity, sons John and David were a year or two behind me in the 50s. Big family, but Brian is a grandson of someone living needing your help. This is about as senseless as it gets, drugs again. His picture doesn’t look 41. Your children were at Trinity when? Was it FLS, or Peace? In our old neighborhood, there was domestic violence killing, the daughters were in grade school Detectives canvassed, I locked the door, shooed them to bed, didn’t answer. At work next day I was called to Security to be interviewed. That was the 70s. Now we install double locks, security cameras. And today assault rifles confiscated in Brooklyn Park, getting closer.

    • There’s just so much violence. Everywhere. I appreciated President Biden addressing the nation on the topic this evening and laying out steps he would like to see taken. Now if only there can be bi-partisan agreement to DO SOMETHING.

      My girls were at Trinity until it became FLS. The son started classes when it was FLS; he was on the Peace campus.

  6. Valerie Says:

    Wow, that seems to be a lot for you…I cannot think of anyone in my small world that came to a violent end.

  7. I’m so sorry and I’m sorry for the family and loved ones as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.