Thirty nine years ago my sister Kathy was brutally murdered, taken from a family that still misses her smile and loves her. I remember the night she went missing, frantically looking for her and later getting the news she had been found. I can still see the expressions on the faces of everyone in our living room as Janet told me she had been found but not alive, she had been murdered.
The pain of losing her is still there but thank God it is not as it was in the beginning, no one could survive that. Kathy will be on my mind today but I will also be thinking of what just happened in my town, Mount Vernon Ohio. The kidnapping of thirteen year old Sarah brought back memories of Kathy. It was such a relief when I heard she had been found but knew that such an ordeal would surely leave scars. To hear the news that her mother Tina, brother, Koby, and family friend, Stephanie had been murdered was horrifying. Today will be more difficult knowing that families are suffering from the knowledge of their loved one being murdered.
I feel for the families in Mount Vernon that must endure the pain that I once did, knowing it is almost unbearable. But I want to be living proof to them that you can survive. Though you feel you won’t, that the pain will always be exactly as it is today, let me assure you that one day you will get to another place. Hang on tight, hold on to each other and never give up until that time arrives. Always know that there are those that understand, that in many ways, though you can’t see them, walk this journey with you. And if they could relieve your suffering in any way, they would, because they have been there. As I remember Kathy, you too will be in my thoughts and prayers, understanding the painful journey you’ve just begun.
Today, I will force myself to go beyond the horror of her murder. It is not easy because the thoughts of what happened to her and how she died have won the battle many times. I want to ponder on her beauty as the child she was; yes thirteen is still a child. For us, she will always be thirteen. She was just beginning the transformation from a tomboy to a young lady. Her personality was rather quiet; she loved to write poetry, some of it very sad because she cared about people and what was happening in our country. Remember, it was the sixties, she was taken from us in 1971 and there was a war going on. She had a heart that wanted to help others, loved animals, and cared about her environment. I believe she would have done great things, made an impact on society, if she had been given the chance.
Instead, Kathy left the task for us as a family. As a family, we have fought for her over the years. We’ve endured a reopening of her case in 1983 and then again in 2004. Her remains were exhumed in 2006; they were hoping to get DNA. Twice we have returned her to the earth from which she came. As a family, we continue to do all we can, to see her murder solved.
Ann, Janet and I, sisters of Kathy, fought for a state-run Cold Case Unit in New Hampshire. The bill was presented and we spoke before legislature and the senate, pleading with them to develop a team that would work full-time on unsolved murders. Seeing a bill come into law is tedious and draining but the bill was passed and New Hampshire now has a Cold Case Unit. I hope other states will follow and do the same, that New Hampshire will be a leader in this fight against unsolved murders. Within six months they were able to make an arrest in a 1989 quadruple homicide, this is our reward. It wasn’t an arrest in Kathy’s murder but our fight was not just for her, we fought for all that wait for justice. We supported the DNA bill in New Hampshire, making it mandatory that the DNA of all convicted felons would be entered into the system. Remember, a robbery in one state may mean a murder in another. We have a bond with the Cold Case Unit and have contact with them on a regular basis. Our faith in them is evident; we are encouraged and strengthened by them as I hope they are by us. The task before them is great and we believe in their mission.
I’ve also written a book called, A Child Is Missing. My goal in this book was to tell Kathy’s story, to enlighten others on the devastation of knowing someone you love was murdered. To explain what it was like for me, at the age of fifteen to hear the words, “Kathy’s been murdered.” To reveal the journey I’ve been on, hoping it might help someone on the journey they must endure. Just knowing you’re not alone in your pain is important, knowing there are others out there that understand. The most important goal in writing this book was to give people hope in what seems, at times, a hopeless world. How faith can make a difference, know that God is still there. How finding a purpose is a key to endurance. And pursuing it can change the world we live in.
Kathy, you have taught me all these things. I love and miss you my sweet sister. xoxo