Husband and wife and three kids in a station wagon: The quintessential picture of the American family. Only not in this case, in which the family was literally blown to bits and the few remains of the station wagon so twisted and charred it took police several hours to realize it wasn't a mini-van.
The explosion that destroyed a family in Essex Monday night was grotesque. Photos and television footage of the blast's effects made folks gasp. One officer likened it to the Chase train wreck a decade ago -- so horrific you had to see it to believe it, he said. Baltimore County police are continuing their investigation, but they now believe Mark A. Clark, apparently from Cumberland, detonated the vehicle with himself and his family inside: his estranged wife Betty Louise Clark, of Rosedale, their 4-year-old daughter and two of Mrs. Clark's children, a 6-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl. Remarkably, the older girl briefly survived the explosion, which launched parts of the vehicle three football fields away; she died at Johns Hopkins Hospital two hours afterward.
One observer described the images as the "Hiroshima of domestic violence." The O.J. Simpson case has sharpened America's focus on domestic violence. In the past five years, the number of domestic violence cases in Maryland has tripled.