In February 2011, my husband – the sole support of our family – lost his Senior Graphic Design job. We were like many other Americans at that time, applying for and trying to figure out how to survive on Unemployment insurance. We spent every day, looking through all the various on-line job boards, perfecting résumé’s, and applying… All totaled, we were spending about 11+ hours each day, 7 days a week doing this. Getting the occasional call for an interview, surviving the let down of not getting that position. And going on to the next.
Our finances suffered greatly. With three children, there was barely money to put food on the table, let alone provide clothes, shoes, and back to school items. Our middle child was beginning her Senior year, but we just could not afford ANY of the Senior year activities or items – like Senior pictures, year book, dances, prom…
The normal family life we had once led just did not happen this year. Now, we really only spent time together as a family at dinner. We had always played games or watched movies with our children after dinner before this, but these days it seemed we were working late into the night, continuing the search. We were not afforded our usual summer camping trip, nor a family outing to the beach.
In November, I had to return to Michigan to take care of my mother, who was experiencing severe health problems due to a car accident that occurred in 1998, in which my father was killed. I left a few days before my daughters 18th birthday, which was Nov. 6. I was gone almost that whole month, returning home just before Thanksgiving.
With Christmas right around the corner, always a most difficult time for me emotionally, as this is when I lost my father in 1998… I took a few days off from the job search during Thanksgiving, to spend time with the children putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house. With our finances on the brink of disaster, I feared not only would there be nothing under the tree on Christmas morning, but we might actually lose the house before my daughter could make it to graduation in May.
So, that weekend I collected items in our home, put them outside and had a garage sale. At least I made enough money to put ‘something’ under the tree for my children. My two daughters chipped in their babysitting money, and my older daughter and I went in search of the best sales… This same daughter had been saving her babysitting money to pay for her Senior pictures, but decided it really wasn’t as important to her as helping to make Christmas better…
With those few precious presents stored safely under my bed, we felt somewhat satisfied that at least everyone had ‘something’ to open. We planned on wrapping them Christmas eve, just like I had done every year as they were growing up, in our special “Santa Wrap”…
That first weekend of Christmas break, we were supposed to drive to Ontario, to pick up my daughters best friend and her sister, who were spending the first week of Christmas break with us. But at the last minute, they called to change our plans to the second week of Christmas break…
I was awakened at about 4 a.m., that Tuesday morning before Christmas, by the most blood-curdling, heartwrenching, painful screams I will ever hear! It was my daughter, and every motherly instinct inside knew something was horribly, terribly wrong! I jumped out of bed and ran to the stairs, instructing my youngest child to stay put… Half way down the stairs, I heard my husband scream “you killed her!”
A letter to the mother of a murderer:
“You called me one morning when Gary was young at a little after 6 a.m., to yell at me and ask why I didn’t call you the second Gary showed up at our home after he had run away from your house. Maybe it was because he was sitting in our living room, explaining to us that your new husband had hit him… Maybe it was because he was trying to get us to believe his lies that his real dad didn’t know you were remarried… Ironic how that morning, too, he had come with a duffle bag and a sword, though at the time he only brought these items because they were his “belongings”…
I want to call you this morning, though it’s only 4:04 a.m., to let you know Gary showed up again. Only this time, instead of running away from your house, he intentionally came into my home. He brought with him a duffel bag this time, too. Only it was full of knives. For you see, he came with the intention of killing everyone in my home, even the other children who would be staying with us because it was Christmas break. He stabbed my beautiful daughter Saskia to death! I awoke to her screams, and the last remnant of her voice I will ever hear are her death screams as your son repeatedly slashed and stabbed her to death! He then stabbed my husband, and after wrestling the murder weapon away from him and throwing it outside and screaming for help, I came in and witnessed the horror as Gary stood over Connor and brought yet another knife down into his neck and chest!
The rest of the horror doesn’t matter, not to us at least, because you see by that point we all knew Saskia was already dead. And in that instant she passed, we had all really died too!
Emotionally, mentally, spiritually –
HE MURDERED US ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have wanted to call you every day since, to share with you the pain and horror of losing Saskia, and attempting to live without her. Because you see, none of us are really LIVING anymore, Gary destroyed OUR LIFE that morning! Now, we simply exist. And I’m sorry that he didn’t accomplish his task of killing us all! I really, truly am sorry that we can't all be together in that “better place”. For you see, the pain of living without Saskia, the horror of what your son did, is absolutely too unbearable!
I wanted to share with you, how I was detained for TWO HOURS in the garage, next door that morning… By the police, who said Saskia was still alive, and they were working on her, but knowing she was dead… Not knowing, if Gary had started his murderous rampage in Riverside, where my son Ian was staying: if in fact maybe Ian and Alyssa and her mother too, were all lying dead on the floor somewhere; because the police would not walk four houses down the street- even though I kept insisting over and over and over again that they do so during the first few hours—to ask Mitch to call Ian on his cell phone to see if they were alive, or in fact in need of help… Not knowing if Paul and Connor were going to survive their stab wounds—certain that Connor couldn’t, not after seeing his artery severed as I had reached in and pushed the pieces back together and tucked the fabric of my curtains under his skin around it…
And when the police finally told me the truth, that my Saskia was really, truly dead—realizing my life was over…
I called my best friend in Michigan, and told her what your son had done. I asked her to drive over to Paul’s parents house, and ask for his brother’s phone number. I needed her to call him, so he could be there to break the news to Paul’s parents—that their granddaughter was dead, and their son had been stabbed.
I also had to call my childhood friend from Michigan, and tell her what your son had done. I had to ask her to call the church that my mother attends, to ask them to break the news to my mother—and to make sure they sent an ambulance, as my mother has not been in good health since she survived the car accident that killed my father, and with her heart being so weak, I was afraid this news may kill her, too!
When I finally gave up that the police were ever going to inquire from Mitch to call Ian, I walked to Mitch’s house! I had him call my son’s girlfriend, to see if they were alive. I then took the phone, and asked her to go into a room where Ian wouldn’t hear her conversation. I had to tell her what your son had done, and ask her not to tell Ian yet. I had to ask her to lock her doors and windows, as your son was on the loose, with a duffel bag full of knives… I had to tell her not to leave, or let Ian or her mother leave, until the police arrived… Mitch, bless his heart, drove there to tell Ian in person what had happened, as we were all afraid of how devastating this news would be for him… His “friend” of over 10 years had stabbed his beloved Saskia to death… Stabbed his Daddy…
I wanted you to see my youngest daughter's face, when I finally had to sit her down and tell her Saskia was dead. The realization, as it dawned on her, that those screams she had heard—would be forever the last sounds of her sister's voice as she was so viciously stabbed to death that morning… How she can no longer sleep at night, and when sleep finally finds her—she screams out in her sleep! She awakens each morning now, shaking and afraid, and as I hold her in my arms she whispers “mommy, I’m so tired of the bad dreams”… And the helplessness of knowing there is nothing I can do for her!
How I wish you could have been there, when I returned to the house, to clean up your son’s mess. I washed the blood off the walls, off the floor, because I just couldn’t let someone else “touch” what was left of Saskia… I couldn’t bear to wash the blood off our furniture, so I had it hauled out of the house—I just couldn’t tolerate looking at it! This broke my heart all over again, with all the memories of my children growing up here in California with that couch, rocking my babies to sleep in that chair, and now…All I could see is the smiling face of your son, as I hit him and hit him, trying to kill him on that couch for murdering my Saskia!
I wanted to tell you about our dog, Archie, who had run down those steps when he heard his Saskia screaming. I wish you could have seen him as I did that morning, covered from head to toe in blood! How he had been so traumatized by what your son had done that he ran outside and hid—for two days. How when I found him, he couldn’t stop shaking! That we had to wash the blood off him, to make sure your son had not stabbed him, too… And how now, he becomes emotionally distraught whenever someone comes to our house, as he fears everyone is now a potential danger to his family! After all, he recognized the scent of your son; it was already in our home! How can he truly trust anyone now?
And for those days, just after your son did this? You knew where he was, while we continued to live in fear that he would show up again! You went and picked him up, and took him home, while we had to hide until his capture. And when the police finally captured him at your house, and we were finally allowed to return to ours? I can’t tell you what it was to bring my children home, into the place their sister had been murdered. Saskia was dead, the furniture was gone, our home felt surreal! And still, what your son had done continued for us… As Ian went to his room, to put his backpack and schoolbooks down, he discovered that Gary had been there, too! Gary had left behind another present for Ian, to further torment him with. There, on his mattress, under his comforter, was another knife. Gary had left it there to let Ian know that had he been home that morning, Gary would have killed him first! We had to call the police back out to the house to retrieve yet another weapon from your son’s arsenal… I am forever thankful Ian missed the bus, or I would have lost two children that morning!
I thought you should know that because of what your son did, the DA had to question Derek and Richard, simply because they are black too… And how upset Richard was after this, as we sat in the driveway, because he is "family", not a color...
I have needed to share with you, the physical PAIN of just existing!
For 18 years - 1 month – and 14 days, I had known that Saskia was safe and warm and loved. I stayed home, to be her mother! I had done everything for, and about, and with my children! And I failed to make it down those steps to be with her in her final moments!!! I failed to keep her safe from your son in my own home! I locked the doors, my OCD holds me to this behavior EVERY NIGHT. But that didn’t matter—your son came in, and now I must endure being without my baby girl, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! I am torn between two worlds, two plains of existence! I must endure here, in this ‘living’ world, this NEW LIFE WITHOUT SASKIA, for the sake of my two ‘living’ children. We are forced to exist now, in this painful, ugly life NEW LIFE!
But that will NEVER take away MY NEED to be with Saskia! Not knowing where Saskia is, not knowing what possibly happens 'after death', and not knowing if she is lost and scared and alone - HAS DRIVEN ME MAD! Is she with God? She didn't believe in him, nor do I, so what...The idiots who say you focus too much on one child, and not the others, and yet—CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT IS TO NOT KNOW 'WHERE AND HOW' YOUR CHILD IS? I HAVE TO LIVE WITH HER FINAL SCREAMS IN MY HEAD, AND THEY NEVER STOP! She is 'lost', and my need to find her consumes me, as it would any parent who truly "LOVED" their child. And yet, the selfish ignorance of others insists you simply let go—forget you ever had her, loved her, held her, don't worry about where she is or how she is— and just be happy and go on! How it truly IS - to go on for and with Ian and Kes, and try to live with my guilt in abandoning Saskia. I live a torn life, an overwhelmingly painful existence. Because what those ignorant, selfish people out there don't seem to understand is - I LOVE ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN – EQUALLY! And the selfish pain they inflict, because they want us all to be WHO WE ONCE WERE - their failure to recognize the TRUTH, that we can NEVER be those people again, they all died... And these NEW people we are now forced to become? It's like being reborn, unable to know or touch those things from the past life—because that life is simply gone! And, just like being reborn, you move on to new people, new things, and new experiences... Never to return to anything from that past life ever again, because to do so brings unimaginable pain and suffering—because their lives haven’t changed, only yours! I look at this life, this plain of existence now—and I wish to take my remaining family and simply leave this life, that we could all be with Saskia in a place that is TRULY better for each of us, now! FOR GARY HAS RUINED ‘THIS LIFETIME’! I love each of my children equally- and the physical pain of losing Saskia is equal to my love FOR HER! The pain I must endure makes me want to crawl out of my own skin each moment of each day!
...And still, NO ONE FROM Gary’s FAMILY HAS APOLOGIZED FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE! Instead, you smile at us in court.
I do not begin to understand this behavior. I don’t know whether to interpret your smiles as supporting what your son has done, by killing ‘whites’, and that maybe you too are only sorry he didn’t kill us all, because then there would be no witnesses against him? Or, if maybe you really think he didn’t do it at all—that we are falsely accusing him because he’s ‘black’, or because we hold some vendetta against him for not paying a few months rent? That we would accuse anyone other than the true “MURDERER” is ludicrous! We want to see the “ONE, TRUE PERSON RESPONSIBLE” for this brought to justice!
You could never really understand the fear we experienced for those four long days, the sheer terror of those nights, while Gary was loose – WE COULD NEVER ENDURE LIVING WITH THAT AMOUNT OF FEAR!"