10/10/1981 ~ 5/3/2001
Click on smaller photos below for full-size images
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.
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.
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
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,
live in it like it is home, for it is.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 &
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
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).
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
Starlit eyes follow
As another dreamer
soars through the universe.
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
As I float away on my
vessel of dreams…
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
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
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
These few words are engraved on the back of Bethena's
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
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
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