Popular Support for Man Who Killed His Alleged Molester

A California town hails Aaron Vargas as a hero.

Popular Support for Man Who Killed His Alleged Molester

A California town hails Aaron Vargas as a hero.

-Jane Farrell

Aaron Vargas

Aaron Vargas, of Fort Bragg, Calif., has been in jail since last February, when he killed 63-year-old Darrell McNeill with one shot to the chest.

Vargas, 32, said he had been abused by McNeill beginning at the age of 11, when he went with the older man on a fishing trip. Vargas’s sister, Mindy Galliani, said on the Today Show Thursday that the abuse continued for almost two decades. “I believe that McNeill had mental control over Aaron. It was like he was holding him mentally captive for 20 years. Aaron could not escape him. He was a scared little boy around McNeill,” Galliani told Today Show cohost Meredith Vieira.

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The shooting occurred when Vargas, by then married and a father, went to confront McNeill after McNeill offered to babysit for his daughter. Vargas was afraid the daughter would become the predator’s next victim.

After Vargas was arrested for killing McNeill, a dozen men came forward and said that they too had been abused by McNeill when they were children. Vargas’s supporters said that some of the victims had reported the abuse to police, but nothing was done.

Residents of the Pacific Coast town have held rallies and demonstrations and sell T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons saying that Vargas should be freed, not imprisoned, because he brought a kind of justice to McNeill.

As a result, Mendocino County prosecutors have said they will not pursue a first-degree murder charge against Vargas, but will accept his plea to a voluntary manslaughter charge. His sentencing will take place in June.

Galliani told Vieira she wants her brother to be released right away. “Why continue the abuse?” she said. “Leaving him in jail is continuing the abuse.” (MSNBC)

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