Linda, was like everyone else, she wanted a family and home. There
was no way to know she would die in that home. The same week she
married, she came back home, running naked through the woods. It was
cold and dark when she showed back up that night. She was scared. I
had never seen her scared. She went back after a couple of days. You
see, he was sorry. She didn't come home for a few weeks and when she
did, she acted like that night had never happened.
Linda was a pretty girl, 5'4", green eyes, high cheekbones. She had
dated only a couple times before she married him at 17. Every time
she left the house, I had to go. Linda was my protector. Our Mom had
a bad temper and it seemed I was the one that got it most. One day
when I was being beat with an extension cord and was cornered in the
bed, she grabbed the cord and told her NO MORE. So when Linda left,
it probably affected me more than the other girls. She was MY Linda.
Her husband continued to beat her through the years. One day he told
her to get a 9/16th wrench. She found several but he wanted the one
he wanted, not the others that were just as good. He told her "I'm
going to town, when I get back, you better have it." She knew what
would happen. She went to the medicine cabinet and took 4 or 5 pain
pills and waited on him to return. He made her hold her arm on the
kitchen table and he broke it in two places with a ball-bat. My
brother beat him up for it a few days later. Her arm always bothered
her after that and she took steroid shots in the elbow until the day
Another beating that stands out vividly is when he gathered a
handful of cockroaches up and made her eat them. She said he would
tell her chew them or you'll get more. She said that for ten years
after, whenever she thought about it, she would get sick.
He never called her by her name; he called her "Old Lady". They had
two boys. The husband beat them also. She would take the blame for
whatever they had done because she was, as I said, a protector.
I saw the oldest son coming out of the house with two Nehi bottles.
He dropped one and went to pick it up and his Dad ran over and
stomped his hand into the gravel, cutting about three fingers. He
didn't take him to the doctor. He went inside, got a needle he had
stolen from the doctor's office and sewed it up.
He stole antibiotics and gave them all shots when they were sick. If
anyone refused, they got two. He pulled a gun on Linda one time and
told her "You're going to take that shot or this one." So it was a
natural thing for a gun to be thrown in her face around there.
He would get his guns out and play with them all the time. He was
cleaning a .44 Magnum one day and he had a epileptic seizure. The
gun went off in the living room floor and blasted a big hole. The
next day he blamed her for it.
He kept her away a lot between beatings. He didn't want anyone to
see her like that, I guess it made him look bad.
Our Dad died after she was newly married. She was crying at the
funeral and he told her, one more tear and you won't come back here.
Then he took her outside and slapped her around for proof that there
would be a beating.
Years of the abuse went on. Excuse after excuse - she had fought a
woman, she had ran into the doorknob, she was either this or that
all the time. Yet, I never witnessed her being clumsy.
The boys lost respect for her because I guess they saw their Dad do
her so poorly. They too called her Old Lady. When the dad was gone,
they turned into demons. They used to tell her "When Daddy gets
home, he's gonna beat you old lady, you'll be sorry old lady, you'll
be sorry. They boys were in school one day and the school called and
said the youngest boy had gotten into a fight. They drove to the
school and in front of the teachers he proceeded to take out a
wooden club from behind the truck seat and he beat the boy in the
school yard. He was arrested. He was sentenced to about a year in
the local jail for child abuse.
So now she was alone with them at home. I called her quite often and
she told me that the boys were getting real bad, that they were
coming in at 3 am and taking things from the house. Televisions,
radios, anything for money. She said they were on dope. She told me
she had called and called the police and they could do anything. I
told her to have them put in a mental health program. She had the
youngest one committed. I called again and she said, "If I come up
missing, tell them to look under the house. That's where Jr. (the
oldest boy) said he was going to put me after he killed me." She
told me she took all of their guns to her mother-in-law's house and
left them there. She felt like she was safe from the guns.
October 18, 1991. Linda went to our baby sister's house at
5 pm. The boy was with her. He had borrowed a .20 gauge from a guy
to "go hunting with". While they were at our sisters house, he put
the gun in Linda's face and says "I'm ready to go, bitch". She told
our sister she had to go anyway, she would see her tomorrow and they
The next day, at 7 am she was laying dead on her kitchen floor,
her brain was a foot and a half from her head, and there was a
puddle of blood between the two. Her eyes were open and her right
hand was extended fully and her left hand was pointing over her
face, as if maybe she tried to say something. She had blood
splatters on her face, on the walls, the ceiling was taped off.
Sausage was cooking on the stove and she had been washing dishes.
The crime lab said her fingernails were remarkably clean.
He took a shower and washed his clothes before he went down the
road to my half-brothers house and called the police. They didn't
investigate very good, I felt. I told them about the past abuse and
her taking the guns from the residence the week prior. They
investigated further. Going out for the second time, they found a
pair of bloody shoes hid way at the back, under a bed. They
questioned him again and got 3 different stories. One was, "I
tripped; my leg went up and I accidentally shot her." The next was
"She saw someone outside last night and I shot out the door and
didn't realize it was her until morning." Another was, "The gun
jammed as I was putting shells in it, and when I brought the barrel
up, it misfired." The state crime lab stated "Numerous attempts to
make firearm discharge in this manner were unsuccessful." The gun
was in operable condition.
Although they knew what happened, they let him go with a
manslaughter charge, a $130 fine and 5 years probation. Know what
happened next? He went on to kill a State Trooper the following year
in Missouri and at least they valued the trooper's life and
sentenced him to 40 years this time. I feel strongly that the
trooper did not have to die at all. I have never met the troopers
family, but I would like to. I don't even know their name. I do feel
I spoke to him after he was released from jail. I wanted to know
what she was doing that morning, what did she do the night before,
what did she have on? Personal things that only meant something to a
sister. He gave the phone back to his dad who asked me could we not
always talk about the Old Lady. I let him know, the only thing that
brings me in contact with you is LINDA and her name was LINDA not
Old Lady. He didn't want to talk to me after that either. I didn't
want to talk to them either, I wanted to talk to my sister's family,
and they were not that family. I think a total stranger killing her
would have been better, at least we could have been around her kids
and got some memories from them.
Her insurance paid them $80,000 in cash. I cussed the company out
so bad over that.
After all this, I became a crime victims' advocate and was
elected President of Parents Of Murdered Children. Helping others
helped me more than any single thing I had done. I drew insight from
their stories. I resigned from both jobs after a year. I think,
looking back, maybe I should have taken another year before I
started working with victims. I miss my families. I may have lost a
sister but look at all the people I gained. I cant go back and make
her life return. I can look at the people around me today. If there
could have been a way she could have met these Parents, she would be
alive today. We didn't know what to do about the abuse in her home,
especially when she kept going back. The reality of being beaten to
death is so unreal to the victim. They think the person loves them.
And maybe they do, its not for me to say what is in someone's heart.
I just know its not a "right" kind of Love.
If you know someone that is being beaten, please make it your
business to learn about domestic abuse, to be literate about what to
say and do and what NOT to say and do is so important.
Linda's voice as told by her sister, Carolyn
I wish you all peace in your journey.
Love That Bonds
She married him before she turned 18,
How could this tragedy have been foreseen?
They had two boys that threw fits of rage,
The oldest took her life with a .20 gauge.
She'd go to church on Sunday nights,
When she got home, they'd start a fight.
Sometimes I wish her here like before,
But she's not beaten on anymore.
Our love for her still remains,
Although our hearts are filled with pain.
written by Carolyn for Linda ( a month too late)