(I hadn't thought of this in a long time, but mentioned it last night in referring to my extended family in Idaho. Today I'm thinking about it because of Destiny Norton being found murdered.)
It's been 13 years since my second cousin went missing one evening while collecting for her paper route.
Her name was Jeralee. She lived in Pocatello, Idaho. Her family was the "J Family". All the people in her family's names began with J. I remember them visiting our house in the summer, and she and her older brother Jamen would pick cherries from our magnificent cherry tree.
I can't say I knew them all that well. I only knew them in the way that you know their names, you know what they look like, and you usually see them once a year. We'd play at family reunions, but she was always the younger kid, hanging around us older ones. I was 15 that summer she disappeared; she was 11.
I absolutely remember the drama of the whole thing. She was abducted; the highway patrol was putting up check points; and I even remember hearing about it on the Salt Lake news. I can't remember how long it was until the whole thing ended. Like a week? We couldn't do much, living so far south in Utah. But our family kept us posted, and we grieved and worried right along with the more local family and friends.
When I learned her fate, I was wracked with sadness. I remember that as the first time I had feelings of support for capital punishment. And I still have them. This triggered my first attempt at raw, emotional writing. I cried when I wrote a story about her and her killer. I have a copy in my night-stand still.
The fucker who kidnapped and molested and murdered and dismembered her, and then threw her into the Snake River in a trash bag inside a cooler (if I remember correctly) was named James Wood. This is him:
He died in jail in 2004, from a heart attack. I just found that out this morning.
Well, my purpose in writing about this is only to memorialize my cousin, and to share deep sympathy for the families of kids who don't come home to their own beds at night.