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10/10/1981 ~ 5/3/2001

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This is dedicated to Ms. Bethena Lyn Brosz. As a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, aunt, niece, cousin, friend—in every aspect of her life, she is loved & missed more than we know how to describe.

Bethena was born October 10, 1981 in Dallas, TX at Baylor Hospital. During her school years, she was in many Honors & Pre-AP classes and sang in Choir. She was selected for Who’s Who in American High Schools and graduated high school with a 3.82 GPA. She was working customer service for Web-TV subscribers & taking her freshman year courses at UNT in Denton, TX. She wanted to go to Colorado to study Astronomy for her degree.

One of the last things I remember Bethena shopping for was a baby’s bathing suit (with sandals to match) for her best friend’s little 8-month old daughter. Beth was a very giving person who was always helping others. If a friend needed a ride to buy groceries, to get to a job interview or to work, or to go to the doctor, often she would even rearrange her schedule so she could get them there.

I was working at home for the last year and a half she was alive, and she used to come home almost every day for lunch. Often she would work on her schoolwork and sing in her beautiful voice for me until it was time to go to work or back to class. I cannot find the words to explain how much I will miss her sweet smile, the warm hug, the soft kiss on the cheek, and “I love you, Mommy” that she gave to me every time that we parted (even if we were “disagreeing”, as we all do at times with our teenagers).

The last time that Bethena renewed her driver’s license, she had come to her sister & me very upset that she could no longer designate herself as an organ donor on that license. She was adamant that we make a promise to her.  If anything ever happened to her, she wanted us to make sure that her organs were donated. She said if even one part of her could save one life & keep one family together, that we should make sure it was done. 

Our Beth loved to write--especially poetry. She had 3 poems published, the first when she was only 15 years old, and the last in March 2001 at 19 years of age. There are probably hundreds that I have; this is one that I found in one of her journals. She used to say that was how she worked things out—to write about them. I think this is one of my favorites because it has so much meaning for me. 

Understanding does not mean that you know,

Knowing does not mean you understand.

Walk the path chosen for you

And you only have one way to walk.

Walk in many directions & choose your own path,

Yet you will still walk the path chosen for you.

Sleep seven hours a night to be healthy.

What is health, though, if you are not happy?

Feel dead and you are.

Feel alive and Live.

The world is your place,

So live in it like it is home, for it is.


 c. Bethena Brosz (written sometime between 2/7/01 & 4/01/01)

I like that—“live in it like it is home, for it is.” This world is still my home and your home. The highest hope she has for us just might be in this poem—to live & be happy. But the other lines explain exactly why that is so hard to do.  I know that she must have suffered beyond anything we could imagine, in terror & in agony, but I will never understand how anyone could do such a thing to another human being, especially one so gentle & kind as our Bethena. Too much has been taken from her and from us—her smiles, her wedding, her hugs, her children, and the carefree joy of a holiday that does not hold a bittersweet, black empty space where she should be. Murderers have forced this path upon us. Murderers have taken her from her home.

The men who murdered my precious daughter chose to use their God-given free will for horrifying evil. They shot her in the right knee, slashed her throat 3 times, slashed her shoulder, and shot her twice in the head. Only 5”1” tall & about 110 pounds, she could not have had the slightest chance against 2 men with guns & knives. But in spite of these mortal wounds, God made a miracle & kept her alive for a time, unconscious & unfeeling they tell me. Then He led 2 good Samaritans to find her & call for the Care Flight that arrived within minutes of their call.

Because of that miracle, at least Beth did not have to die alone. We will always believe that on some level she knew we were there with her in the ICU, praying for her & telling her over & over how very much we love her. Also because of that miracle, it was possible for Beth’s wish to be granted—7 of her organs were donated & 5 lives were saved. That would not have been possible if she had died in that roadside ditch. We thank God for this miracle—that He made sure her wish could be fulfilled in spite of what was done to her. Since we couldn’t change what had happened, fulfilling that wish was one of the last things we will ever have been able to do for her. For us it is the only silver lining in a very, very tarnished situation.

The other victim was found dead at the scene, his throat slashed, shot 6 times in the head. One of the few correct things that has been printed in the news is that everyone connected with the investigations has said that Beth was just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. But this is little consolation, because what happened to our Beth & the other victim should NEVER happen to ANYONE for ANY reason.

Beth was wounded May 2, 2001. She was pronounced brain dead at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2001. Even before she died, the police had received some very good tips & leads. The first suspect was in custody a few days later, and the second was arrested in another state in July 2001. A CrimeStoppers reward was issued to that anonymous caller that happened to see him & knew he was wanted in Texas. He was extradited back to our home county in Texas in August 2001. Our DA announced that they would seek the Death Penalty for the first time since 1993 in our county, due to the brutally vicious & preplanned way in which these murders were committed.

One of  the 2 suspects, Steven Woods, was found guilty of capital murder. The jury recommended & the judge sentenced him to the Death Penalty. He has been transported to Death Row in Livingston & will be showing up on the TDCJ Death Row website as soon as they finish the "intake process" (psychological testing, etc.) is what the DA's office tells me. See the link below for the article that was written the Sunday before the trial began and the article covering the final sentencing day--what was not reported in the paper was that Woods had been arrested when he was a juvenile--for making a bomb & leaving it on a neighbor's deck, and another time for aggravated sexual assault--for these juvenile offenses he had received only probation & mandatory mental health treatment (a whole 6 weeks worth).
When the social worker who reviewed his juvenile criminal & mental health history testified that his home environment & lack of proper treatment were mitigating circumstances, our lead prosecutor asked her if the other children that grew up in the same home had become murderers too. Of course, she said she had no way of knowing. But I am guessing that is why the defense did not even put Wood's mother on the stand in the sentencing phase--so our prosecutor couldn't ask her that question--I'm pretty sure I know the answer. If there were other children in that family who were murderers, if the home environment is truly what made it impossible for him to be/act otherwise, the DEFENSE would have already brought that information out--we would not have had to wonder at all.
We will find out more about when the 2nd suspect's trial will be in the next week or so. His name is Marcus Rhodes. He is still in the Denton County Jail.
We are very fortunate to have the support that we have from our DA's office in Denton County. Jackie Carpenter, Kathy Bomar and Erin Frewin from Victim Assistance were there for us in so many ways. Any time that we had to simply leave the courtroom because we could not bear it anymore, we never had to leave alone--one of them would always be right there for us so we had support. I really don't know how I would have made it through this horror tale that is our reality without them. The DAs on this case have been amazing throughout, considering some of the horror stories I have heard of what has happened in other places. ADA Michael Moore leads the prosecution team. We have been working with him for over a year, and I have never had to wait more than a few hours for him to return any call unless he was out of town, and then he would call me back on the first day he returned. ADAs Roger Jones (the head of criminal prosecution in Denton County) and Tony Paul completed that team. We really feel like Bethena did have someone representing her in that courtroom, and for that we are so grateful.
On Monday, August 19, 2001, when that jury recommended the death sentence, my husband Terry & I went to see Beth when we left the courthouse--to sit on that bench and let her know that we were halfway to that justice for her that she so deserves, but that we were wishing mostly that there had never been any reason for any of it--the only true justice would be if we were all home together that evening. But since we can't have that, this will just be the best we can do. Then we had to go to Beth's sister's house & give our grandsons big hugs, and whether they can understand yet or not, I had to tell them that the world just got to be a bit safer place for them on that day.
That trial was the second hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I am not looking forward to doing this again, but we will do whatever is necessary so that at least these particular criminals can never do this to any other person, any other family ever again.

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Our precious Bethena,

We will remember the huge smile when you caught your first fish, and the bigger smile when you released it & it swam away just fine, your love for our Earth & its preservation, and your beautiful drawings of fairies & butterflies & dragons in your favorite soft purples & silvers.

We will remember your unparalleled determination (your Nana said you were the most determined person she ever knew), the whirlwind you made when you dashed through your chores, and how you worked so hard at learning to take care of your car yourself.

We will remember your writing every day in your journals or on the computer, singing songs by Jewel with your friends, and your luminous beauty (no matter which hair color you had chosen that week).

We will remember how animals were drawn to you, how happy you were when you were playing with Molly or Moose or Lover Boy or Calvin, and how you sat in the front yard for so long one afternoon, playing with that stray dog so he would not go into the street where he might be run over.

We will remember the way you laughed & played with the babies you loved so much, how you used to say, “Every baby is a precious gift from God”, and how we laughed that first time you babysat your nephew Zachary, when you phoned & asked what in the world to do with that messy diaper (you did a fine job for the first time).

We will remember you every time Zachary hugs that huge Tigger you gave him, and every time another of the books from the book club that you started for all the grandchildren arrives, and we will continue to write in each one, “With Love from Aunt Bethena”.

We will remember you every time we listen to songs you loved--“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, any song by Jewel (whom you loved so much because she is a poet too), or all of the Christmas Carols that you would sing for us each year.

We will remember you every time we see your favorite flowers—shimmering purple sterling roses, stately calla lilies, or bright sunflowers. We will remember a funeral overflowing with those flowers, in a chapel full of so many broken hearts—family from near and far—so many friends—so many cars at the cemetery we could not see the end.

We will remember Pastor Charlotte’s beautiful story of your life—her sermon that brought words of solace & guidance for the unbearable pain. We will remember that our town’s pastor association wrote us afterwards, that 6 pastors who had quietly joined us there that day said it was one of the most beautiful sermons they had ever heard, even though it had to be one of the hardest to write. We agree, and will always be grateful to Pastor Charlotte.

We will remember also how unassuming you were, and that you would have been amazed to see it all—to see yourself having such a huge effect on so many lives.

We will remember every time we read another of your beautiful inspiring poems.


Dreamers of the Universe Unite

Starlit eyes follow “meaningless endeavors”,

As another dreamer soars through the universe.

Dodging shooting stars, rocks of all sizes,

As the world spins on and on at the center –

Or so we wish.

In her eyes lies a dream that will never die,

As I pass by with my own dreams tugging at my pants leg –

Thank God for belts.

I speak to her a thousand words

Without speaking,

As I float away on my vessel of dreams…

 c. 2001 Bethena Brosz

We will remember those dreams that were so brutally stolen from you, and we will continue to pray for justice every day. Rest in Peace in the arms of the angels, our beloved Bethena. Thank you for the gift of your sweet, precious, loving heart, which we will hold close to ours forever.

Endless love, Mommy, Terry, Marcia, Andrew, Tracy, Alicia, Nana, Grandpa Bill

*****January 9, 2003*****

At 7:36 AM this morning, Bethena’s older sister Marcia had her 3rd child, my 3rd grandchild—another baby that will never have the love & joy of her Aunt Beth in her life. We have a healthy, happy baby & mama resting as I type this, and we are so very grateful for that. But no matter what holiday, what happy event, we know now that each will be tainted with that bittersweet yearning for our Beth to be here with us on this Earth. Every moment of happiness that we manage to find always holds that heartbreak as well; we know this now. This newest precious little one in our lives is a girl—her middle name will be Elizabeth, after her Aunt Beth.

The trial of the second perpetrator, Marcus Rhodes, was scheduled to begin 3 days ago on January 6, 2003, but there will be no trial now. Our family and the family of the other victim agreed to the plea bargain that our DA office offered to Rhodes. He pled guilty to Capital Murder in Texas, guilty to Accessory to Murder in California (California is a 25 year sentence which would have to be served consecutively, not concurrently, if he ever were to be paroled after his minimum of 40 years were served in Texas), and also no Appeals.

The families agreed to this for several reasons. I will not say that I am speaking for the whole family—some may have other reasons of their own, but I want to share my own personal reasons for agreeing to this plea bargain.

By ALL accounts, Rhodes did not inflict any of the mortal wounds upon any of the victims—a mitigating circumstance. He did provide the weapons, the gloves and the transportation, with full knowledge of what Steven Woods planned. Under the law of parties in the state of Texas, we know this makes him guilty of Capital Murder. But I had a very hard time believing that a Death Penalty would hold up under appeal, if we were even to obtain that DP in the trial, due to that mitigating circumstance.

And then there is the most important reason of all. I am not ready to share all the details of it, it is so precious to me, but it quite simply is what Bethena asked me to do. Last year, long before Steven Woods’ trial, I was visiting Bethena’s grave at the cemetery. I prayed the Prayer of Jabez and begged God to let her please send me a sign—to allow her to tell me if I really should ask for the Death Penalty—if that was what she wanted me to do. I was blessed with an answer, and it was very clear—yes for the first, no for the last. Steven Woods received the Death Penalty in August, 2002. Marcus Rhodes agreed to the guilty plea in November, 2002. It is complete with this plea bargain. It is what she asked me to do. What more important reason could there be? None.

*****Additional update January 11, 2003*****

Last night we took Marcia and her precious little one home from the hospital. Two of Bethena’s friends came to visit, to see us & the baby. One of them we had not seen since Bethena’s funeral. She brought some pictures with her to give us—pictures of Bethena she had blown up for us. One in a smiling dance pose holding her favorite Chai Tea at a coffeehouse next to campus, and one where she is laughing & hugging 2 friends. That friend said she did not know why she had waited so long to bring us those pictures, that she had made them ages ago, but finally felt she really needed to bring them now. I think I know why—Beth wanted her to bring them to us on this day, a year & 9 months later, to show us that she is celebrating the birth of her new niece, and that she is sending us hugs the only way that she can. Thank God for allowing her to reach us! Thank God for these beautiful messages to remind us that the love we share is forever! I am shaking as I type this, the tears flowing down my face, with the sure knowledge that our Bethena does rest in peace now, and that her love will always be with us. There is truly an “Angel in Waiting” for us, and it is for her that justice is done.

May God Bless each & every one of you that has shared your sympathies, your own grief, and your wishes that we may find some peace someday. Janet—Beth’s mom

These few words are engraved on the back of Bethena's gravestone,
on the side facing the earth where her body lies.

You walked His Earth loving family & friends.

Your giving soul always held out helping hands

To others.

As your time with us ended, as your wish had proclaimed,

Five more lives were saved in your precious name.

Your life’s tapestry yet to be woven it seems,

Golden threads barely touching your vessel of dreams.

When our chores here are done, may we come to His Grace

And the beautiful sight of your sweet smiling face

In Glory.

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