A family still in search of answers

By Alexandria Mason

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David Scott, Courtesy of Chicago Defender

“This man is killing me. I ain’t done nothing —will somebody help me.”

UW sophomore David Scott’s reported last words never made it to the ears of his family members, but still hang thin on campus after being shot fatally six times by 45- year -old Madison resident David Norgard back in 1972.

Jondae Scott, David’s 31-year-old  niece, contacted The Black Voice in hopes of addressing unanswered questions of her late uncle’s murder nearly 45 years ago on UW’s campus.

“It was a couple years ago when I decided to get some more information after I initially found the original newspaper article. I was getting family accounts but the ends weren’t really tying together the way I needed them to,” said Jondae. “I found an article in my late aunt’s photo album about his death, but the paper was illegible. I did some digging and found out The Black Voice had been discontinued, so I felt I hit a dead end.”

Leading to a two day boycott of classes as Black students demanded justice be served to David’s killer, at the time of his death, UW sophomore David’s killing added to the already tumultuous campus climate in the early 70s memorialized with anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.

Archives of The Black Voice described David as a “living symbol of the struggle which faces each black brother and sister across the nation.” This quote partially spoke to the basis of the crime. In what multiple newspapers and the killer cited as a case of mistaken identity, Nov. 1, 1972, Norgard entered the Saxony apartments in hopes of confronting his daughter’s attacker, a black man that had allegedly assaulted her.”

Instead, Norgard fired nine shots, six piercing David’s body, as he plead for help. Hours later, Norgard turned himself in confessing belief he shot the wrong man.

However, by the time of adjudication, investigations opened Pandora’s box setting free narratives of mental illness, paranoia and a father down on his luck and a student that caught the castigation.  It’s difficult to not get lost in the variations of stories, especially almost 45 years after, with none of the immediately involved parties still alive, David, Norgard or Norgard’s daughter Kristine.

The Scott family became equally lost in narratives, and still to this day don’t know exactly what happened to David, although each version is inescapable of racism, silence and a community enraged. In late July of last year, Jondae reached out to The Black Voice after learning the publication made a return back to the UW after over 40 years in hopes of tying up loose ends.

Learning Black

Early November as South Side Chicago’s leaves began to lessen in numbers with the come of winter, Clinton heard his mother scream. Clinton was only nine-years-old at the time, the youngest of four children, but recalls vividly the terror that filled his home when the news made it to the Scott household via telephone at nearly 3 a.m.

“She was in the kitchen screaming. I was trying to figure out what she was saying and she was talking to my sister. And then I saw my sister put her hand over her mouth. ‘David was killed.’

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It would be a cliche to say David Carlton Scott was filled with life, but that’s what his two brothers remember of him: spontaneous, athletic, the favorite, charismatic, a protector, a free spirit, the list goes on. His infectious spirit spread to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Fall of 1971 as he became one of some hundred Black badgers on campus in addition to joining the historical black greek organization Kappa Alpha Psi Inc., the Black Student Union and implanted his “outgoing and aggressive” demeanor on campus.

Yet, his cheerful, genial disposition was not bulletproof or immune to the plague of racism that still thrived in the United States during the early 70s, Madison, WI included, despite the growing Black Power Movement. While higher education alleviates many barriers for Black people, it never completely dissolves the dangers of being Black in predominantly white spaces, a lesson Clinton learned too early.

“The fact that he was killed going to school, that was really hurting. He was trying to improve himself. He wasn’t any of the negative things society had to offer, yet he was killed. It left a scar as a young kid…I learned quickly that society did not value the life of a Black man.”

The Murder

The evening of Nov. 1, 1972 19-year-old David made his way to his apartment at the Saxony on West Johnson St with plans to visit friends Beverly Broaden and Darlene Jenkins at apartment 402. Supposedly, David stopped at Kristine Norgard’s door at 405 to briefly say hello. These two actions are commonplace, everyday activities for college students and sociable neighbors. What would come after would transform a casual visit into a blurred tragedy, the only certain fact standing being David was shot and a white man by the name of David Norgard confessed himself as the killer.

“He believed there were others outside the door besides Scott. Norgard then drew his gun. When he opened the door, his ‘mind went blank and he and Scott allegedly ‘stared at each other.’ He then realized he was firing the gun and that he had continued to fire even after the chamber was empty,” said Norgard’s psychiatrist Dr. Richard Pyle.

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 11.10.43 PMTurning himself over to a neighbor an hour after the shooting, Norgard disclosed to police, “I probably shot the wrong guy.” The doubt that immediately arose in Norgard juxtaposed the five bullets that pervaded David’s body, a sixth that grazed his thigh. But who was the intended target? An alleged black man that initiated a gang rape of his daughter Kristine.

“The complaint against Norgard states that he went to his daughter’s apartment where the alleged incident took place after his daughter told him she had been raped and beaten by a group of Black men including Scott,” said The Cap Times.

The Black Voice reported no sexual assault but that Kristine “had allegedly been struck on the face in the pre-dawn hours by a supposed black man.”

In regards to battery, then District Attorney Nichol substantiated that UW authorities had been called to investigate a battery against Kristine earlier in the day, but that the young woman did not want to file a report. Nichol added that he did not believe Scott had been directly involved.

Yet, Norgard stuck to a narrative of sexual assault.

“I think I shot a man that let seven men in Kristy’s apartment to rape her,” said Harold Hettrick, Norgard’s neighbor at the time, quoting Norgard’s confession to him in Hettrick’s driveway.

As the investigation went on, through close mental examinations of Norgard by psychiatrists, a web of depression, racial paranoia, and lack of control began to reveal itself

A year after being dismissed from a federally-funded position at the UW-Madison, Norgard began to feel the controlled grip he once held on his life slip through his fingers, clinging for control in areas such as his daughters’ lives.

It may have been these series of events that led Norgard to acting as a vigilante father when his daughter decided not to seek retribution for her attack.  It may have been that the thought of his white daughter with Black men pushed his lack of control in life to the edge and he needed a breath of dominance to feel replenished.  It may have been that Norgard’s already existing prejudices against Black people came to a head when a Black man came knocking on his white daughter’s door on a campus with interracial dating taking place.

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Comic excerpt, courtesy of The Black Voice 1972

“[Norgard] had negative emotions about  blacks and especially about sexual activity between blacks and whites,” said Norgard’s other psychiatrist Dr. Leigh Roberts.

And even with these possible rationales, there’s no clear explanation why David never made it to see winter break of 1972, except a father’s paranoia of racial mixing and his vigilante indictment on David’s black skin, for an assault that may or may not have happened, against a young man that he admitted probably was the wrong guy.  

By 1973, the court found Norgard unfit to stand trial, although Norgard plead guilty to second degree murder. He was later found not guilty by way of insanity and sentenced to a mental hospital for an indefinite period of time.

The Scott family was not notified upon Norgard’s release.

Aftermath

David’s family has never seen the old newspaper clippings that loiter in library databases, and much of these details are new to them, details that don’t necessarily mitigate the pain or confusion of reopening the wound. Yet, it’s a step, just learning what actually happened, even if the details are still murky and infuriating.

“It was so undercover. If you ask me til this day the exact details of what happened, I can only speculate. I heard my brother was going to this man’s apartment to let this man know he was not messing around with his daughter. That was back in the day when black lives really didn’t matter. It was all very suspicious and racist,” said eldest brother John.

And family dynamics would never be the same.

“Not too long after, my parents separated and divorced. I can’t help but think that that had something to do with it. It may have been coming anyway, but there was some glue that was holding the family together that was destroyed. It was a part of us that was lost,” said John.

The only name John and Clinton both remember taking on an active role on campus following David’s death is Kwame Salter, a charismatic 24 year-old that served as the director of the Afro-American Community Service Center as well as the founder of the black student newspaper, The Black Voice.

“We feel that the murder of David Carleton Scott is a crime against the community both black and white, and that in order to discourage a regeneration of vigilante barbarism, the culprit must be made an example out of,” said Salter following the killing.

The campuses reputation for activism continued, even if it was limited to a concentrated population. Three hundred Black students stormed the Madison’s City County Building on Norgard’s arraignment date demanding first degree murder charges; Black students boycotted classes the two days following the murder; and most of all Black students challenged the University to alleviate volatile racist conditions on campus.

“I don’t remember an administrative response, I really don’t,” said former Black Voice reporter Samuel Spralls.

An Unspoken Legacy

Forty-five years have passed.

David Scott’s legacy to the UW campus is passed on through his fraternity’s chapter history and in Black student archives such as The Black Voice. As campus records are typically tossed within 15 years, with each decade, Scott’s blood fades slightly from UW’s legacy, yet still lingers in shadowy corners with the etchings of the n-word on bathroom stalls or mock lynchings as Halloween costumes.

Between 1985 and 1990, UW honored Scott with a memorial scholarship fund, ranging from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of nearly $6,000. Otherwise, Scott is memorialized in anecdotes of racial bias,  monolithic responses by administration and incompetent sanctions by Wisconsin’s legal system. Spaces such as the newly opened Black Cultural Center and Multicultural Student Center may have been where Scott sought social refuge as well as through the same organizations he was once a part of such as the Black Student Union and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

“Once I kind of got a real idea of the university’s level accountability for these types of crimes, I was able to understand a little more why the story was hidden so very well. This is the father of a student murdering another student. I found it very odd that there was little information on a case, regardless of the year it was,” said Jondae.

Forty-five years have passed.

“At the same time we can’t help but say we still hear David Carleton Scott crying ‘This man is killing me…I ain’t done nothing,” reported The Black Voice.

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