Wayland Murder | Globe Editorial

A father’s offer of forgiveness

Malcolm Astley reads a brief statement after the arraignment of Nathaniel Fujita. Malcolm Astley reads a brief statement after the arraignment of Nathaniel Fujita. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
July 8, 2011

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MALCOLM ASTLEY, the father of 18-year-old murder victim Lauren Astley, has suffered the unimaginable. But in the aftermath of his profound loss, he has shown something else almost unimaginable in these circumstances: compassion.

Victims can set the tone for how a town deals with tragedy. For Wayland - where both Lauren Astley and the former boyfriend charged with her murder, Nathaniel Fujita, just graduated from high school - the killing was a vicious shock. Astley’s apparent concern for the suspect’s family and - yes - even the suspect himself creates an atmosphere of unification rather than inciting fear and revenge.

“The whole community can be thought of as losing two kids,’’ said Malcolm Astley, a Wayland school committee member and former principal of Bowman Elementary School in Lexington. He is the one comforting his community, instead of the other way around.

He may well enter a period of anger; any parent’s reaction to losing a child is mutable and ultimately private, and no one can predict his or her own reaction in the same situation. And the killing, in what appears to have been a bloody explosion of domestic violence, invites other questions - such as how to identify when teenage angst is likely to turn violent, and how communities can protect themselves and their young people.

But in this one instance, this one death of a child in a region that’s seen too much violence already this year, we can look to Astley and get a glimpse of how we might heal together.

Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this editorial identified the wrong Lexington school of which Malcolm Astley, father of murder victim Lauren Astley, was principal. It was the Bowman Elementary School.