Two murders are just another ‘grievance

Bear with me one more time. Promise to move on to another subject tomorrow, but woke up last night thinking about Khari Sanford. His sentencing hearing was one of my more wrenching emotional experiences in recent years. (Yes, I’m using first person today.)

Two phrases stick out from Wednesday’s 09-07-22 hearing. Judge Ellen Berz: I can’t explain the inexplicable.” 

The other came from Khari Sanford himself, speaking of the period roughly a year before the March 30, 2020 murders. He was sleeping in a stolen van even as he played football at Madison West high school when he met Miriam Carre-Potter, the adopted daughter of the slain couple. 

“She gave me unconditional love” and “introduced me to two beautiful people [who] saw my potential, accepted my adversities, and took me in.”

No love, child

There was little love during his dysfunctional upbringing from his absent, imprisoned father. His own mother, according to the pre-sentence report read at the hearing, told him point blank she didn’t want him. (Sanford was heart-breaking when he began his sentencing statement: “Mom, I love you. Dad, I miss you.”)

Yet, sometime after 10:30 p.m. on that terrible day in Madison WI, he walked up the stairs of that Rowley Avenue home that had welcomed him,.357 SIG Glock in hand. Sanford ordered Beth Potter and Robin Carre out of bed. With Ali’jah Larrue at the wheel of the minivan (which the two hostages had lent their captor), they drove around for 26 minutes — almost as if they were scouting out the perfect crime scene, before they settled on the north entrance to the UW Arboretum.

Did Beth and Robin bargain with their two captors? Remind Khari of all the kindnesses they had shown him? Struggle? As they were forced to their knees in the 30-degree cold in that ditch, did they say one last, tearful goodbye to each other? 

“It was calculated, cold-blooded and senseless,” the chief of University of Wisconsin Police said at the time.

This undeniable tragedy broke many hearts here in Madison. What is the answer? More discipline? More responsibility? More money? More love?


In the immediate hours after his hateful deed, Sanford attempted to cash out the dead couple’s ATM cards. He was after their “bands of money.” He remained as callous as any Mafia hitman the next day at a friend’s home, where he was overheard to say, “I swear I hit them! How did they survive?”

How much did Madison’s woke progressive grievance-mongering contribute to this tragedy? Clearly, Sanford thought himself a victim of white society as taught at the University of Wisconsin and transmitted through Madison’s public schools. The murderer once wrote that he would “let his diversity shine over oppressive systems.” Was any system more oppressive than his murders?! Girlfriend Miriam blamed her parents for their “white savior complex.” Khari was separatist enough to join the Black Student Union at West high. His statement in court Wednesday suggested his sense of martyrdom.

“If taking my life is what it takes to repay them, to resolve the grievances of this beautiful family and define justice, I will be honored, your honor. Take it.”

(The WI State Journal captured that statement on video.) These words were not stream of conscience but written out, thought through.

How does one kill the thing he loves?

Resolve the beautiful family’s “grievances”! No apology, no request for forgiveness, no contrition. “Not one scintilla,” Judge Berz marveled. GRIEVANCES! Where have we heard that word?

In the end, Khari Sanford got no money. He killed the one thing he said he never had — that unconditional love. Where will he get either now? (Judge Berz said Sanford could use his proven leadership skills to better the world, but in prison. “You’ll be in a different world, now.”)

If the nation’s Woke culture of victimization played a role, he was also hard-wired by a dystopian upbringing. Can any consciousness raising program, psychotherapy, or medication undo the harm? How many other Khari Sanfords are out there in Madison WI and other cities?

Blaska’s Bottom Line: The kid had it tough, but why kill the greatest kindness you had ever experienced? Inexplicable.

Does this case sow self-doubt in Madison progressivism?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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19 Responses to ‘Inexplicable’

  1. Steve says:

    Were you at the sentencing hearing?


  2. Wm. Tyroler says:

    Thanks much for this fabulous series of posts, not least for showing that, bleak as the media landscape is, citizen bloggers remain able to fill some empty spaces.

    The last violent irruption that carried deeper lessons about Madison (and had arguable national implications) was the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing. Far as I know, “Rads” was the only book — and a fine one by the way — to cover that story; it quickly sank into obscurity for reasons that elude me. If there was a film treatment, I’m unaware of it, though the Academy Award-nominated documentary “War at Home” did contain some mention of the bombing, at least if memory serves. I note all this because I’m inclined to think that, public appetite for true-crime being insatiable, the Potter-Carre murders will see both book and film treatments before too long — it’d be a pity they suffered the same fate as “Rads.” And an equal pity if they don’t measure up to the drama of the story, which David has movingly canvassed in this series.

    It’s no accident the reasons for the killings are inexplicable: an incurious local media, and an undemanding local populace, don’t seem to want the many unanswered questions explored. Better not to know, and take it as just an inexplicable one-off that says nothing about the city or of any programmatic failure. A shame, really, because there appears to be a wealth of material to be mined by competent and energetic investigators. To the extent David’s superb efforts are a spur to that end, so much the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Blaska says:

      Yes, read “Rads.” My next-door neighbor here in Orchard Ridge was the FBI agent in charge here in Madison that worked the case. He asked me if he should submit to an interview for the book. I said By All Means!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob says:

    I wonder if Miriam has any feelings for her adopted parents that gave her a better life here or is just waiting to see if she gets money from the estate?
    It’s too bad that the people that try to make a better life for underprivileged people end up paying the the ultimate price.


  4. David Gerard says:

    Can you explain it? Two possibilities that have not been mentioned.

    First, evidence is mounting that regular marijuana use increases the chance that a teenager will develop psychosis, a pattern of unusual thoughts or perceptions. It also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, a brain disorder that causes psychosis, problems concentrating and loss of emotional expression. So far, the research shows only an association between smoking pot and developing psychosis or schizophrenia later on. That’s not the same thing as saying that marijuana causes psychosis (not yet). But this is clearly not your grandfather’s pot.

    Second, there was a football video posted (and I believe you can still find it) before the murders that showed Sanford playing safety in high school football. The running back appears to be 6 feet tall and 210 pounds. Sanford appears to be two inches smaller and 160 pounds (if that). The back is lined up deep (like O.J. used to run) in an I formation and picks up speed as he crosses the line of scrimmage. Sanford makes a head first tackle and takes the back down. He gets up slowly and, for a brief time, begins to wobble. He then recovers and goes back to the huddle. He would have been removed from an NFL game under their protocol.

    Can you explain it? No. But please discourage chronic pot use among your children and grandchildren. And don’t let your boys play football.


    • Steve says:

      I think the association between heavy chronic pot use and psychosis is stronger than you make it to be. And he would be pretty young to have CTE. It usually takes longer to manifest itself and mostly after repeated head trauma.


  5. Alan Potkin says:

    The Hannah Arendt Center at my uber-woke undergrad alma mater Bard College is mounting a conf next month, for which I’ve just registered to attend in person. The most-hyped keynote speaker there will be “philosopher” Myisha Cherry, whose new book entitled, “The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle”, is now blurbed at great length at Amazon: here excerpted below:

    “Anger has a bad reputation. Many people think that it is counterproductive, distracting, and destructive. It is a negative emotion, many believe, because it can lead so quickly to violence or an overwhelming fury. And coming from people of color, it takes on connotations that are even more sinister, stirring up stereotypes, making white people fear what an angry other might be capable of doing, when angry, and leading them to turn to hatred or violence in turn, to squelch an anger that might upset the racial status quo… [A]nger does not deserve its bad reputation. It is powerful, but its power can be a force for good. And not only is it something we don’t have to discourage, it’s something we ought to cultivate actively… There is a form of anger that in fact is crucial in the anti-racist struggle today. This anti-racist anger…can use its mighty force to challenge racism: it aims for change, motivates productive action, builds resistance, and is informed by an inclusive and liberating perspective. People can, and should, harness… rage and tap into its unique anti-racist potential. We should not suppress it or seek to replace it with friendly emotions. If we want to effect change, and take down racist structures and systems, we must manage it in the sense of cultivating it, and keeping it focused and strong…”

    Hmmmm. Does this have any relevance to Khary Sanford thought he was accomplishing?


  6. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    I wonder who wrote the heart-wrenching statement that worthless little thug read out in court. My guess is some “professor” of African American Studies [sic] from UW-Madison. He and his former girlfriend are the all-too-predictable products of the culture of grievance that we have the misfortune to be living in and which is being perpetuated in our education system from first grade through college.

    Kudos to our host, who told this sad tale in more depth and with greater insight than anything I’ve seen in the local media (a low bar, to be sure).


    • David Blaska says:

      Nice letter to the editor today, Kriewald. No, I believe Khari wrote his statement himself. He’s intelligent but warped.


      • Yes, he wrote it. Notice how he never accepts blame, or apologizes, and tries to turn his forgone conclusion life-without-parole sentence, into some noble acceptance on his part. He was still pushing his “potential” and “talent” till the end. And why not? It had always saved him before. It’s what got him free college counseling, a place to shack up with his girl friend, and a car. He counted on other people’s sympathy to gain favor, and then he would exploit them. I think he actually despised them for their gullibility. He had no respect for people so easily played. He called them a “beautiful family,” strictly for show. They were chumps to him.


      • Gary L. Kriewald says:

        If he did write it, it reveals either a total lack of self-awareness or a cynical ploy for sympathy. My guess is the latter, knowing to whom it’s addressed (i.e., guilty white Madison liberals who think they alone can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, the mistake his hapless victims made).


  7. Mordecai The Red says:

    Terrific series, Squire. I’ve been reading you a lot longer than I’ve been commenting and this is some of your best work. An insight into the local goings-on that the local media are content to gloss over.

    As a side note on an earlier post of yours, many of these media outlets that were so quick to run with front-page stories of Althea Bernstein’s allegations didn’t bother issuing follow-ups when it was found that she was lying. Some have even scrubbed their websites of any record of her story. Try searching for her name on sites like CNN, MSNBC, NYT, and WaPo and see what you find.


  8. Kooter says:

    Mayor Satya: Rainbow crossing on State Street and a city-sponsered grocery store 1; comments about this travesty: 0.


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