Autistic man tortured and shot in Alva, Oklahoma

ALVA — As a mentally challenged man screamed and pleaded for his torture to end, his attackers held him down, shot him repeatedly with paintball and BB guns, and branded him with searing coat hangers.

“Mommy, mommy,” the victim screamed, to no avail.

His torturers videotaped the episode, with one so proud of his work he listed his own name as the video’s director, producer and star.

Now, two Alva men face felony charges in the undated video. A Woods County judge set bail at $75,000.

“It was a gruesome assault,” said Ben Orcutt, Alva’s assistant police chief.

The victim, Harry Dahling worked with Jesse T. Wallace and Marvin Michael Tarver at a local food processing plant.

Police confirmed the victim is autistic and said he had trouble answering questions about the assault.

“He may be 20 or 21 years old, but he acts like a juvenile,” Orcutt said.

This happened here, in my home state, about 2 hours drive from my house. When I read about it in yesterday’s paper I was almost physically sick. It felt like a punch in the stomach to read about Harry Dahling crying out for his mother as he was tortured.

My autistic son is on the sofa next to me, having fallen asleep in my lap while we watched a movie. He is happy and safe.

But the fear and loathing that has been in my throat since I read about Harry will keep me awake for much of the night. Like every parent, I am concerned with my childrens’ futures, but unlike most parents I don’t have a default cut off point to stop worrying. He will likely need some assistance for the rest of his life.

Will he ever cry out for me when I’m not there?

15 thoughts on “Autistic man tortured and shot in Alva, Oklahoma

  1. I wish I’d remembered that you told me not to read this.

    May you and Bede always ALWAYS be safe, and never come into contact with horrible un-people like that.

  2. What an awful story. I hope the trial and punishment for the attackers is a swift one. These types of attacks seem to be increasing as young bullies seek their fame on YouTube.

  3. That’s just horrifying. Job is pretty high functioning, but I still worry about what independent living will bring for him.

  4. How could any one do that to another person!? How very very sad. And he was calling out for his mama, how could they continue? Poor guy. = (

  5. I happen to personally know Harry as a friend and beloved patron to the Alva Public Library. I tell you with the most honest confidence that this young man is the most humble and giving person to ever live in a place like Alva, OK. This news has absolutely sickened and grieved my heart. You have no idea how truly gifted and sweet Harry is. This is an absolute tragedy for Alva.

  6. I came to see the kitty you made for your mom (cute!) and saw this post. I am sitting here with chills and tears. For some reason, when I read something that is so awful like this, it stays with me forever. I want you to know, whenever I think of this, I will pray God’s hedge of protection to surround your son….Ellie Werner

  7. Harry Dahling, or actually Harry Dahling Jr. is my little brother. My younger sister & I haven’t seen him in over 15yrs due to my parents losing custody of him when he was 5 because they could not care for him. Today, as a matter of fact, I am a counselor who specializes in working w/those who are diagnosed in the PDD & Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    Anyway, I wanted to comment about this story because of the fact that we haven’t seen him, have been looking for him for yrs & we finally found him today & THIS is how we find out about him. I’m angry & heartbroken. I’m over-joyed to have finally found my little brother & we hope to reunite soon, but so sickened by the fact that we’ve missed him, worried about him all these yrs, plus his childhood wasn’t that great (neither was ours, sadly), hoped that he had a better life now & this is how we find out about him. The shock & horror of it is almost close to finding a long lost sibling, only to learn that they’re dead. I’m thankful that he is alive & from what I’ve learned, is actually doing well. I’m just in shock, I guess, is all.

    Thank-you for bringing light to this.

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