The night I forgave my daughter’s killer
Jul 11, 2011
....I knew the kidnapper could be liable for the death penalty, and I wanted him to hang high. However, I had always tried to live my faith with integrity, and my conscience was calling me to forgive my enemy. I realized if I gave myself to that desire for revenge, it would obsess and consume me. So, I promised to cooperate with whatever could move my heart from fury to forgiveness.
One year to the minute after the kidnapper had taken Susie, he called me at my home in Michigan. He was calling to taunt me. Even though he was smug and nasty, to my own real surprise, I was filled with genuine concern and compassion, which thwarted his intention to rile me up and then hang up.
During that past year, I had worked diligently to come to a healthier attitude than rage and revenge. I reminded myself that, however I felt about this person, in the eyes of the God I believed in, he was just as precious as my little girl. So I asked him what I could do for him; he broke down and sobbed heavily. Our middle-of-the-night conversation lasted for 80 minutes. When the call finally ended, I was left hanging on to a silent phone.
The kidnapper inadvertently gave enough information to be identified. Eventually he was arrested, and irrefutable evidence was found to charge him with kidnap/murder, a capital crime with a sentence of the death penalty.
But I realized that to kill him in Susie’s name would not restore her life; it would only make another victim and another grieving family.
So, I asked the prosecutor for the alternative sentence of mandatory life without parole. Only when he was offered that was he willing to confess to the murders of a 19-year-old and three children, including Susie.