"Life was not the same for Jack, and I after we had lost Sally. I can remember it so well, even today. Jack and I, I being myself, Sally's mother had just moved into a new neighborhood of 67 homes. Custom built homes in a quiet rural neighborhood with huge oak trees lining the two-lane road that lead up to the entrance of the tract. We lived in a country town. Brookfield, it was called, named after the huge prairie land the city was built on top of. It was a quiet city of about twenty thousand people. Brookfield was the center for Illinois' agriculture. The town was made up of farmers, and those few families that worked out of the city to make a living. That was what Jack did. He was a financial planner for Washington Mutuals biggest branch in Springfield, also in Illinois. Jack, and I had been married fifteen years, and then he had a mid-life crisis; that was after Sally left us.
Jack's height was what attracted me when I first met him. He was about 6' tall and weighed about 210lbs, and being the small woman I was, at only 5'7" and 120lbs, one can imagine what kind of couple we made. But Jack was different. He was rough on the outside, with his dirty blond hair, and glimmering black eyes, but when I got to know him I got to know the sensitive, gentle side of Jack. The Jack I married. We got married and had one beautiful child, Sally. We named her after my great grandmother who passed away only a year before Sally was born, in 1979. Sally was really tall, taking after her father. At only 10 years old she was 5'3." But she was slim and had beautiful long blonde hair, just as I did when I was her age. Jack, and I raised Sally with a strict attitude. However, we tried not to take over her life. She grew up in a small city, and it was important for us not to move, despite Jack's multiple Job offerings outside the state. Sally was my little girl. We went shopping together, and always studied with each other. She was what I called a "ÃÂstraight-A-student.' Of coarse, as it does with every child, Sally hit her teenage years. This is when we had problems"ÃÂ¦" "Sally turned 15, in 1995. And with every girl, becoming 15 meant she was able to date. And so that's what Jack, and I let her do. This is one of many things I regret doing. Sally began to date many guys, dumping them and getting new ones in a matter of days, sometimes even hours! However, this wasn't the worst of it. Sally began using drugs at school and hanging out with the wrong crowd. We heard about it happening to other children, but not to our Sally. She came home everyday with something new attached to her body, a piercing, a tattoo, and one day I knew I had enough. Sally had just come home from High School, a little after we found out she was using drugs, this was the crucial point of our relationship." " "ÃÂMom, I want to dye my hair black.' Sally told me.' Of coarse I thought it was a joke and didn't take the time to even think about answering such a question.
"ÃÂSure, you do, Honey' I replied to her.
"ÃÂCome on, mom, everyone at school is doing it, you gottta let me.' "Sally was mad, and I had to take a stance! "ÃÂYou are going to do what I say, Sally, I am your mother and there is nothing left to argue about.' I was serious this time, and she knew it, I guess that's what made her explode! "ÃÂMom, that's not fair at all! I hate this! I am always treated like a little girl, like your little momma's girl, but I'm not mom, I'm not! I hate this, and I hate you, and by the way, I am going to dye my hair, no matter what you say at all!' Sally was angry, and she went to her room, but I, I was hurt. Hurt that someone I loved so dearly, and showed so much affection for would turn around and tell me such horrible things. "ÃÂIt was OK though,' I thought. "ÃÂShe is just a teenager.' But it wasn't ok. This kind of fighting went on for hours, which turned into days that turned into weeks and ended up in a bad relationship. Sally, my little girl, was no longer speaking to me. She had gone out of her way to Dye her hair black, spent one hundred dollars to buy herself red colored eye contacts, and wore only black, from now on. She was what her friends called her, a "ÃÂgoth.' This wasn't the worst of it. Sally began rebelling against us, and finding ways to leave the family. What I mean by leave the family is exactly this: Sally was trying to run away from the family. She tried twice unsuccessfully by running to her friend's house, but the third time was the charm, but in this case, it is what caused Sally her life.
A week before she left Sally began talking about a "ÃÂmaster plan'"ÃÂ¦.
"ÃÂMom, I know I have been treating you and dad very badly lately, and haven't given you guys the respect you need but pretty soon it will all change! Pretty soon, you and dad will be happy, and so will I because I wont have to deal with this anymore' Nothing Sally had told me was true, and I wasn't going to begin believing her now.
"ÃÂOk, Sally, I am glad you feel this way, but what ever you plan on doing, please don't get in trouble, please?' The conversation lasted of about one hour until we began fighting, again.
"ÃÂSo I am telling you mom, you and dad will never have to make me suffer again and I will never look back on this day and regret it, because I know you hate me and I know you want me out of your life.' Speaking like this to me had got me angry. I don't know what I was thinking, but I retaliated without knowing what I was getting into.
"ÃÂSally, how dare you tell me that kind of thing. I am your mother, and always will be and as long as you live with me, we will have to respect each other, no matter what! I really don't appreciate what you have been telling me these last few days and want you to go in your room to think about it." I thought sending Sally to her room was a little harsh, and yet again I regret doing so. However, Sally retaliated in a way that made me glad of all the times I had sent her to her room, just to think about what she had said. Sally told me with no emotions in her words, "ÃÂDon't worry mom this whole respect thing is about to end!' That was, actually, the last actual conversation we had. During the next few days, in just her appearance, Sally began showing signs of victory of her plan. She was always telling Jack and I about it and I didn't know what to think of it. Jack kept telling me it was just a phase, but then it happened, Sally's plan followed through.
It turned out that Sally was logging onto her computer every time she was sent to her room. I had known sending her to her room wasn't doing any good, rather giving her the opportunity to put such a thing into play. On her computer, Sally was meeting people online and devising a way to run away with them. The sad part was that she was open and willing to do anything with anyone. She was a vulnerable 15 year old willing to do anything to get away. This is what made her plan so easy to fulfill, that she was ready to do anything. However, the computer acted as a wall between Sally and who ever she spoke to. Although she thought she was speaking to a man of 20 years, named James living in Rose Valley, a city just 10 minutes away from Brookfield, she didn't see him, and had no way of finding out the truth. It turns out that Sally was actually speaking to a forty year old man. He was taller than Jack, at 6'4" weighing 320lbs. He had dark brown eyes, inundated with violence and craze. His name was Maven. A computer hacker, he was charged with multiple counts of fraud and theft. He stole the money from a major company, the type of company my husband worked in. How did I know this? The police had told me after learning of what happened to Sally. It turns out that Sally agreed with Maven, or James to meet. My daughter had met with Maven on a Friday. She was telling me how she had changed from her old ways, "ÃÂOh, mom, I love you so much, and I cant believe I have been acting so selfish and Rude to Daddy, and you. I'm so sorry.' Sally was all but serious. She was successfully making me feel bad, and had me take her to her friend, Marissa's house. After dropping her off, it turns out that Sally had visited with Marissa for about and then left her house. Three hours after dropping Sally off at Marissa's, Jack, and I went to pick her up at Marissa's home, but Marissa told me she wasn't there. "ÃÂWhat do you mean she isn't here. Marissa, I dropped her off here, what could have happened?' "ÃÂI don't know, Mrs. Cooper, she left the house hours ago.' Marissa was worried, and came with Jack and I to the police after leaving her house. The police were on full alert and looked all day until the next for Sally.
After visiting with Marissa, Jack and I had learned that Sally had walked to a place called Turning Hill Road, right outside the Brookfield Pharmacy. This was located on the border of Brookfield and Rose Valley. When she had got there, Maven had already been waiting with the engine of his Red '82 Mustang already running. Sally was exited and ran to his car. She was so vulnerable, and so forgiving. She didn't know what to do in a situation like this, and she got into the car. Maven looked at my daughter and pulled out a knife. "ÃÂWhat is that for?' Sally had said, and without finishing her words Maven lounged himself at Sally. His full-grown body had smothered Sally and left her helpless, and without any defense. He took the knife and as Sally looked into his eyes, her eyes full of mercy, Maven killed her. Sally's life was over, her own decisions had killed her, and I wasn't there to protect her. I wasn't there to comfort her. I wasn't there to be her mother, and she was gone. Sally and I had spent all of our time fighting and arguing and now she was gone. I would have done anything to turn back time, anything at all, but Sally was gone.
The police report had said that she had been stabbed 13 times. Twice across her legs, five times into her abdomen and after she had died Maven had stabbed her, yet another four times in her back. The police had found her in a ditch off of Turning Hill Road right as it entered Rose Valley. With Sally, the Police found Maven. Curled up next to her body, Maven was in a state of tranquility. He was proud of what he had done. The police took Maven into Custody, and without even checking knew Sally was dead, and sent her to the hospital.
The police had entered into the Lounge located on the second story of the Police station, where Jack Marissa and I had been waiting.
"ÃÂAnything new officer?' I had asked.
"ÃÂMrs. Cooper, you gotta sit down for this one.' At that point I knew something was wrong and my stomach has ties itself into a knot of a million knots. I had so many emotions running through my head, and wasn't expecting to hear what I did.
"ÃÂMrs. Cooper, we found Sally inside a ditch off Turning Hill Road in Rose Valley. We couldn't do anything to save her and we have sent her off to the Brookfield Central Hospital. I am so sorry.' This is what I had dreaded. I felt a sharp fain inside my head. It was as if my conscience was telling me that I had done the wrong thing in raising my daughter. I began crying uncontrollably. It felt as if more than half of my own life was gone, half of my own soul. Only did I wish this was the case, rather than my Sally, my little "straight-A-student" to be gone. I couldn't handle it and although it was the same for Jack, and Marissa it was I who dealt with it in the worst possible way. I had stopped eating and couldn't sleep. I was left without a daughter and the rest of my life to think about it.
After we found out what had happened, Jack and I went back down to the station. The police had us pick Maven out of a mug shot just so there was no doubt involved. This is when I saw his face for the first time. Maven was harsh, and while looking at his mug shot I could do nothing but see his rage and obsession with violence. His very presence in the Police Hall caused me to break down in tears and cry for my daughter. I couldn't handle it anymore and had to do anything possible to bring justice in my daughters death. We tried Maven for man slaughter and he confessed to it all. This is how I knew what had happened. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection or 148 years in prison without bail. However, the situation was like no other. Jack and I were to control what happened to Maven, and that is exactly what we did. We chose that Maven was to spend his life in prison, but we would have him go through rehab for that slight chance of Maven regaining his sanity. When he did so we would remind him of what he had done and he would live his life in a prison cell with this knowledge. Maaven would know that he had killed an innocent 15 year old girl and he would be stuck in that room, to "ÃÂthink about what he had done.' Our situation was submitted and accepted by the official jury of this case, and Maven is still spending his life in a prison with the guilt of taking my daughters life, but I have to spend the rest of my life thinking that I am the one who killed my daughter, and the time I could have spent with her could have been cherished instead of dreaded. This though is an imprisonment of my soul. I will continually think of this to be my fault and the rest of my life is to be lived without Sally.