When Donna Hines’s children were growing up, she would cut out every newspaper and magazine article she came across that chronicled some tragedy and tape them to the refrigerator in their Westborough home. They called it her refrigerator of death.
But there was a point to the stories: It could be you.
“It can happen to anyone, at any place, at any time,” Hines would tell her children.
It is a sentiment she reinforced when her children went to college, her daughter to Northeastern University in Boston and her son, bound for Northeastern’s law school in the fall, and then embarked on careers.
Parents’ fear does not disappear once their children are grown, but the anxieties are tempered with pragmatism. Often the best place to start a career, and put an expensive degree to use, is in a big city.
That was the case for Hines’s daughter, Jessica Lipson, who graduated from Northeastern two years ago and now works as an executive assistant at Clark University in Worcester, where she also lives.
And that was the case, too, for Amy Lord. She is the young woman kidnapped from South Boston and killed in a wooded area eight miles away. She grew up in Wilbraham, graduated from Bentley University, and worked for a digital marketing and Web design company in the South End.
Though Worcester is smaller than Boston, it dwarfs Westborough. “When they walk out the door, I say a prayer,” Hines said. “That’s all I can do, because you can’t stop them.”
Most parents do not want to trample their children’s independence — or stifle a budding career — by imploring them to return home to the suburbs after college.
Boston is a great place for young professionals to make their mark, said Michael Julian, a 58-year-old lawyer who lives in Wilbraham. His 24-year-old son went to high school with Lord and, like her, chose to move to South Boston.
“It’s a great city for young professionals to test the knowledge that they learned in school,” said Julian, whose son is an accountant.
But, he said, the world is imperfect. “Evil,” he said, “walks with us every day and sometimes it touches our family.”
Recently, his son was punched in the face by a man who was kicked out of a South Boston bar. As Julian’s son lay on the ground, the man kicked him in the right eye, fracturing the orbital bone. And though the confrontation shook the family’s sense of security, it didn’t break it. Julian is not ready to make his son leave the city or the neighborhood.
But Heather Little-Andrade could not be more pleased that her daughter wants to move out of her apartment just a block away from where Lord was abducted.
Little-Andrade worried the way most parents do when a child leaves home when her daughter decided she would leave Dighton, a town of about 7,000, and live in South Boston while at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
The neighborhood seemed safe enough, and the mother was comforted knowing her daughter would live near a church on Dorchester Street, near a community that could take care of her. It is a familiar community. Little-Andrade, 64, has been a minister at Fourth Presbyterian since 1996. It is the church her daughter has attended since she was a child.
Still, Little-Andrade warned her daughter to be cautious.
“I told her not to travel anywhere by herself,” she said. “The things happening to women in South Boston these days are just awful. But for now, she has her boyfriend, and they go everywhere together, so I think she’s safe.”
Like Little-Andrade, William Carroll was given pause when he learned that Lord was attacked and kidnapped in the neighborhood. Carroll’s daughter plans to relocate this month to South Boston. She grew up in Hopkinton, where her father said many children harbor dreams of life in the city.
She moved to Boston a year ago, settling in the North End and working at a public relations firm in Waltham. Her father did not really mind that move. The North End seemed safe. People and tourists were always milling about.
But for Carroll’s daughter, there were too many people and cars on the streets, prompting the decision to move to South Boston, where she expected less congestion and easier parking.
As his daughter prepares to move into the neighborhood where so much ugliness has recently happened, Carroll said he worries. Lord’s death is a parent’s deepest fear made manifest, especially because she was the same age, 24, as his daughter.
Shortly after the news broke about Lord’s slaying, Carroll’s terrified daughter called him, and he tried to reassure her, saying crime can happen anywhere. But he, too, felt ill at ease. At the same time, Carroll wants his daughter to live her life, make her own choices.
“We haven’t talked her out of moving to Southie,” he said. “She’s a young adult, so she should do what she wants to do, and we don’t want to hover.”
His hope is that she uses her common sense.Correspondent Javier Panzar contributed to this report. Akilah Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.