Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mangum's guilty verdict may set her free

I wasn’t surprised that a jury found Crystal Mangum guilty of second-degree murder for stabbing and killing her boyfriend, Reginald Daye. Her life has been on a collision course since she accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her in 2006.

I can’t help but think the jury may have protected Mangum from further misery.  Maybe she’ll be able to find peace away from what happened on Buchannan Street in Durham, NC.

“I can’t find a job,” Mangum told me during our last interaction. “All I want is a job to take care of my children.”

I listened to the spirit beyond her words.  We talked about her past issues with men.

“I don’t know how to love a man,” she said. “Men go crazy because I’m not able to give them what they want.”

I sensed that she wanted to find more in life. Love and being loved in returned was beyond her comprehension.  Something deep and painful has robbed her of the ability to escape what happened long ago.   There was an innocence there begging to find a safe place to heal.  I felt an inner tremble too weak to take a chance.

She was trying to find her way.  I prayed it wasn’t too late.

Her story is one that refused to go away.  When Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway sentenced Mangum to 14 years and two months to 18 years in prison, it felt like the end of a story with more twist and turns than reality television.

From a group of former lacrosse players intent on suing everyone connected with Mangum’s deception, to a series of bouts with the law that kept Mangum in court, it seems to be over now.

On November, 11, the U.S Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Ryan McFadyen,  Matthew Wilson and Breck Archer, three former members of Duke’s lacrosse team who sued Duke University; Durham police investigators and city officials; Mike Nifong; and nurses who examined Crystal Mangum.

Federal courts had narrowed the scope of the player’s complaint.  Enough never seemed to be enough for those still aching from having their names and reputations dragged into the court of public opinion. As others endured the burden of Mangum’s dishonesty, she continued to escape fate with justice.  Mike Nifong, the Durham district attorney who called for justice before considering reasonable doubt, lost his job, was stripped of his credentials by the NC Bar Association, and has faded into obscurity.

Durham – in – Wonderland, a blog offering commentary and analysis regarding Mangum alleging rape, continues to poke at the Group of 88 - the Duke Professors who called for justice before the facts related to the case were presented.

“The paper has no comment from any member of the Group of 88, nor have I seen any comments elsewhere on the web from any Group members,” KC Johnson, owner of the blog writes.  “Presumably few if any of the Group continue to find Mangum credible, but it's worth reiterating that all except Arlie Petters have not in any way distanced themselves from their 2006 statement”.

Punishing Mangum, and anyone associated with her, became the mission of many.  They couldn’t rest until punishment was given for that malicious lie.  They cried foul after Mangum was found innocent of arson, injury to personal property, contributing to the abuse and neglect of her children and resisting arrest. Mangum smashed her boyfriend Milton Walker’s windshield with a vacuum cleaner, slashed his tires and set his clothes on fire because she says he punched her in the face repeatedly.

The details of that case weren’t allowed into evidence during the recent trial.  Despite not being allowed to use those facts, prosecution was able to show a pattern.  Mangum has problems with men.  She has a temper.  She has issues with being faithful – a fact that has led to confrontations with her boyfriends.

Mangum shared her story with the jury. Prior to her testimony, they heard from the victim. Daye spoke to an investigator twice before he died.  Daye told the investigator he felt disrespected when Mangum brought men to his apartment. He admitted to kicking the bathroom door when Mangum locked herself inside.  He admitted to grabbing Mangum’s hair and continuing to fight after she stabbed him in the side.

Mangum claims it was self-defense.  The jury found her guilty of second-degree murder.  First-degree murder was an option. Her attorney says he will appeal.

She asked me for help that day in the basement at the Market Street Coffee House.  I placed my role as a journalist on the backburner and prayed for a way to help her find peace.  She wanted better for her children. She wanted a way to escape her pattern with men. She wanted something much deeper than I could find words to express.

Mangum reached out to me before I left North Carolina.  She told me she heard I was leaving.  She was still searching for work.  More than any of that, I felt her need for acceptance and freedom away from the assumptions people make.

I pray for the Daye family.  I’m saddened that no verdict will bring him back to them.

I pray for Crystal Mangum.  There is more to her than most people will ever now. Maybe she can find peace away from the glares of her critics.

Maybe others will be able to release their need to punish what happened long ago. Maybe this story has come to an end.

If so, Mangum can begin writing a new story.


  1. Man, the humanity of this piece is incredible. Thanks for treating Ms. Mangum as a person. She may have done nothing to deserve it . . . yet . . . be she should not be denied her humanity for any reason.

  2. She seemed so conflicted. I pray for her and the Daye family as well. I especially pray for Ms. Mangum's children.

  3. Awesome write-up on Crystal Mangum. I hurt for her but there is no way that I can hurt for her as much as she is hurting for herslf and her own children. Her story ia a very sad story. I have always believed that more was done to her than has ever been told publicly. I pray that justice truly be served all the way round in the eyes of GOD.