Estranged


Another angle on Doctor Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams, written before his execution:


[M]embers of the Owens family say their anger and pain have become more pronounced as Williams' supporters, in their clamor for clemency, appear to forget the lives Williams stole. They say they have been irrevocably shaped by their loss; some family members have grown estranged in trying to find some peace in the 26-year-old tragedy.

In 1979, Linda Owens was in Willmathsville, Mo., washing the dishes when the phone rang.

"Linda, I want you to sit down," Chuck Owens, her ex-brother-in-law, said. "Al was killed."

Eight-year-old Rebecca and 5-year-old Andrea were standing behind their mother in the kitchen. They watched her crumble, crying over the dishes. About 15 minutes later, Linda Owens explained to her girls that their father had been killed and that police had arrested the people responsible.

"What the hell do you say to kids at that age?" Owens said in an interview this week.

"I felt the kids were upset. I felt it best to leave it alone. They never asked," said Owens, who asked to be identified by her first husband's last name out of lingering concerns for her family's safety....

Years later, Linda Owens said it was a mistake to not tell her daughters the entire truth about their father's murder.

The oldest daughter, Rebecca Owens, now 35, remembered that she and her little sister, Andrea, were allowed just one day to grieve for their father. The man who had briefly married their mother at the time of Owens' death had told the girls in vain to call him their dad. She said they were not allowed to talk about their father again. They could not attend his funeral in California.

"As a kid," Rebecca Owens said, "I didn't have time to mourn my dad."

Growing up, she was led to believe that the man responsible had been put to death. Then, in 2001, she said a representative from the California attorney general's office called to gauge whether she would be willing to speak with reporters about some news: Williams had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Rebecca Owens said she didn't know who Williams was.

"What I had been told growing up was not the case," she said, "and then to be told that the man who killed my father and three other people was now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? I was aghast."

The phone conversation lasted more than three hours, followed by years of probing, reading court transcripts and other legal documents on the case and following press accounts of Williams' "redemption." She has not spoken to her mother since then.

"Over the past four years, it was like losing Dad all over again; the anger was there. All the anger I couldn't feel as a kid, the atrocity of what had happened."

Now, "this guy wants clemency? Maybe my father wanted the same thing; maybe the three members of the family wanted to get up the next morning; maybe the daughter who was here for only a week wanted to see her children again. Why didn't he think about that?"

Andrea Owens, 32, said she has no clear memories of her father....

When she learned that Williams, her father's killer, was still alive decades after a jury had sentenced him to die, she said it felt as though he had gotten away with murder.

"He's done something wrong, and I've been punished for it," she said. "I had to grow up without my father."



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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