My Father Charles Strobel Story
As an idealistic criminology graduate student in 1988, and a staff member of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, I was assigned to an inmate who was due in court. His name was William Scott Day, and he was charged with murder. The victim was Mary Catherine Strobel. I didn’t know either one of these individuals, but growing up in Nashville had heard of the Strobel family. I had completed my undergraduate work in criminology and thought I knew everything. I had deep convictions about things such as the death penalty, punishment, and justice.
Hearing the facts of this horrific murder did nothing but reinforce my strong belief in, and the need of, the death penalty. It also gave credibility to a vengeful justice system and made me support this type of punishment even more. As I was leaving the courthouse one afternoon, coincidentally, I heard the victim’s son, Charlie Strobel, speaking to the news media. He and the Strobel family were adamant they did not want the death penalty as a sentencing option in their loved one’s case. Even though William Scott Day murdered Mrs. Strobel, Charlie Strobel explained Day suffered from mental illness and was still a life worth showing mercy.
At that very moment, I began questioning how can I be so desperate for a pound of flesh in this case when the closest members to the victim were displaying compassion? It was also at that very moment, I realized I knew nothing and my education was just beginning.
Years later, I explained to Father Strobel the impact he and his family had in shaping my philosophy both as a person and as sheriff. This led me to 30 years of public service assisting people who deal with addictions, mental illness, and other disorders. I credit Father Strobel for instilling in me how to show mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. Maybe, even more importantly, how to offer redemption.