Photograph is not to be copied, published or saved without the express written permission of Richard Thornton

Monday, January 5, 1998

It is a sound that you will always remember. You may not remember exactly what the words were, but you will always remember where you were when the policeman told you that your wife was dead. Murdered. Your mind races to grasp the concept but it refuses to do so. There must be some mistake, you say to the officer. You explain that your wife is simply staying with a friend for a few days. Your daughter is quietly crying in the other room. She knows. The policemen leave you to stare at the ceiling fan going around and around and around. You are sure that a mistake has been made and that your wife will soon call to tell you that she is OK, that she just forgot to call. Then one by one you feel them creeping up into your throat. The sobs, the cries of anger, the shortness of breath as you gasp for air and a reason. There is none, you say to yourself. This is all a big mistake.

Then you hear it for the first time. It is on the television news. They are showing pictures of people draped with sheets and you think you hear that they have been killed with a pickax. That couldn't be her, you say to yourself.  Then you remember what a pickax is and you are sure of it; there is no way, they must have misspoken. This must be some kind of science fiction show, it isn't really the news. They aren't really talking about a real murder. Then, out of the comer of your eye you see it. It is blue. It is nothing out of the ordinary, just an old pick up truck. Except for the license plates. Oh my God, those are her plates, that is her truck, oh no, oh my God no. It is here that you think your life has ended. It is now that you know what a broken heart is. It is from this terrible well of anguish and pain that your first question comes. Who? How is only a moment behind it. It is at this moment of realization that you start to think about the why.

From inside all of this pain and anguish comes your first sane thought. You are sure that "they" must know who did this thing. After all, this is not something that happens every day. "They" will surely know what to do and how to do it. "They" will tell me what it is I should do now. In your mind's eye you see a crowd of people rushing towards you, some with open arms waiting to comfort you, others with guns drawn, ready to protect you and your family from any further pain. Still others are in the distance holding the hand of your loved one, comforting her, helping her, protecting her.

"They", don't exist. This comforting thought of what you expect the government to be like is simply another fable from your youth, smashed backwards into the memory of your childhood. "Always run to a policeman" my mother had told me. "They will help you, no matter what."

In 1983 there were no organizations to help victims of crime and their families. "They" did not exist. The dreams I had as a youth of the government wrapping me in a warm blanket of help when a disaster such as this came along were just that; dreams. I was unable to find out anything. I was not made to feel like I was a part of anything that was going on. When Karla Faye Tucker and Daniel Garrett were finally arrested and charged with the murder of Jerry L. Dean and my wife, Deborah Ruth Davis Thornton, I was made to feel like an outsider, someone who had absolutely no bearing on the incident. I could not believe it. I could not get anyone to even tell me when the trial was. Everything that I learned about the case I learned through the media. There was no one who was advising me as to what was going on, or what would happen next. I felt like I was farther down on the list than the criminals themselves.

To this day I still have trouble being notified of anything concerning with this case. Without the interjection of Justice For All, I seriously doubt that I would be told in advance of anything, including Karla Faye Tucker's execution. This organization is the kind of organization that no one wants to belong to. Look at the reasons we all have for becoming active in JFA. Murder, rape, burglary, sodomy, and the list goes on and on. It is a downright shame that this organization has to exist at all. That it does exist is testament to the total lack of responsible government that is prevalent today. Without JFA, a whole lot of us would be sitting outside of various government offices still waiting to find out what we wanted to know several years ago. I have been a silent member of JFA since its inception in 1993. I am silent no more. It is very gratifying to know that JFA has been responsible for many of the victims' rights legislation that has been passed by the government in the last few years. I can only hope and pray that there are many more folks out there who are as concerned for the treatment of victims and their families as these folks are. I am very serious when I say I do not know where I would be without them. I will continue to support JFA in all their endeavors so that others like myself will not wonder where "they" are. "They" will be right here, at JFA.


Richard A Thornton

Husband to Deborah Davis Thornton, murdered by Karla Faye Tucker on June 13, 1983

Dreaming in a deep sleep
See comfort of my soul
Dancing in the moonbeams
My heart it takes control

Moving like a sparrow
That flies in softest flight
The world is in it's slumber
My heart has touched this light

Dancing in the darkness
Moonbeams cast a glow
Searching I find peacefulness
This place I'll always go

Quiet of this beauty
It fills my heart with love
See my shadow sparkle
It shines from up above

Moon and I are rising
With joy of so much bliss
Casting light upon my heart
With gentleness a kiss

Bowing to the earth now
Looking at the moon
Smile upon my dreaming face
Moon and light attune.

~ Francine Pucillo ~
Šused with permission




This is a copy of the full painting by Mr. Whitaker.


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