Sunday, May 4, 2008

Frustration with justice?

Jeff has asked me to write this as an account of his experience the last two and a half years.

When the sentencing of Matthew Vaca was over in July of 2000, we asked if we (Jeff and I) could have a private word with the man that murdered our daughter Liz. We were ushered out a door at the side of the courtroom, into a very small hall. There, amidst several deputies, a lawyer, Matthew and Jeff and I, we took a moment to speak with the man that has forever changed our lives. We had a few questions for him that only he could answer, and there in that small hallway he apologized to us. He also asked Jeff to come and visit him in prison. We were never quite sure why he asked Jeff to visit, but Jeff said he would.

Therein is the problem. In the fall of 2005 Jeff felt that he needed to keep his promise to Matthew, so he contacted the "proper officials" to help make this happen. After several phone calls, we were contacted by prison officials that we would need to have a meeting to discuss the reasons for the requested meeting. The meeting was scheduled, and a couple of weeks later we met with facilitators from the victim services at the prison. We met in October of 2005, and were told they would get the ball rolling. Well, it is now May of 2008, and the meeting has not happened yet! Jeff received a few phone calls in between, but nothing else until last week. On Thursday he met with the same two facilitators from the prison. They informed him that they had had more meetings with other people, meetings with Matthew, meetings with other family members, meetings to have more meetings, all this to "arrange" for Jeff to keep his promise. There is really no reason for Jeff and I to go to visit Matthew other than keeping a promise made almost eight years ago.

So, with that said, Jeff is now going to meet with Matthew...sometime. He was informed that there would be two facilitators, their boss, Matthew, a family member of his, Jeff and I and who knows who else will be asked to be present at this "visit". Frustrating? You bet! Why? Who knows! It is just another waste of our tax dollars to have meeting after meeting, to have who knows how many people present, to be able to make sure that when we "visit" Matthew that he (Matthew) won't have any problems. We aren't going to cause him problems, we have no desire to do that. We aren't the ones that requested this meeting, it was Matthew. We are only keeping a promise. It won't change the situation. It certainly would not bring Liz back. It won't change Matthews mind about what he did. That is done.


The thing that is most frustrating is how SOME of the people involved in this "visit" are treating Jeff. Like he is the perpetrator, and Matthew is the victim. Jeff has no desire to see Matthew suffer, or to cause any problems for him. He only wants to keep a promise. He knows that Matthew is in prison for life, with no chance for parole. He doesn't want to see Matthew be raped, or killed by another inmate. Matter of fact Jeff asked Matthew not to take his own life after he (Matthew) stood in that hallway and cried and said he shouldn't live.

Why is our justice system doing this? What is wrong with Jeff and Matthew and maybe one other person meeting for 10 minutes, and then getting on with life? Why all of the un-necessary meetings, all of the involvement of "other people" needed?

We have not changed our minds, we have not revoked our forgiveness, we have not done anything other than attempt to keep a promise. Yes, we are frustrated, and a little agitated, ok, maybe a lot agitated. Why does this have to be such a HUGE ORDEAL? Maybe one of you readers can explain this? Maybe you can help us understand the "Justice System" of this state, and how a murderer is defended, and worried about his "welfare" and protected from us, when we wish him no ill. We didn't seek the death penalty (which would have been our decision to pursue because of the charges of murder and abuse of a corpse) Actually the decision was left up to the county prosecutor. We believe that decisions like that are to be made by the "elected officials" (Romans 13). We would never try to take justice into our own hands. Yes, we believe that the Bible is clear when it says "an eye for an eye" (Exodus 21:23-24) The death penalty was not sought because the prosecutor did not want this to drag on for years, appeal after appeal. She wanted it to be over!

Matthew will have to answer to God for his sins, just as we all do. We have prayed for this man's soul from the moment we knew what had happened. We have never hidden anything from the public in reference to this case. We have been honest and truthful, and thought that we had been upstanding citizens. Are all good Americans treated with disdain?

I am thankful that we live in a free nation, except the cost to do the honest thing seems rather expensive to me!?

We are hurt, and feel that our justice system should perhaps look at things a bit differently than they are. Please pray for us as we continue on this roller coaster. We still want to take the high road in this situation, but for some reason the road is being blocked.


Tina said...

Wow, Becki,
I will certainly be praying. I have more questions than answers on any given day so I have no comforting words to offer, but you are lifted up in this situation.

Jeff said...

I just watched the "I Survived..." episode about your daughter. I am so sorry about this. I am taken aback at how evil this act was. And I am amazed at your reaction. I am a Christian myself. But I am still amazed. It is a testimony to God that you even want to meet with this man. Did he ever give any motive for this? Our prayers are with you. Hang in there.

Jeff said...

PS I was surprised to see you are in New Philadelphia. I used to work for Athletes in Action, and we did some school assemblies there in the 90's. Then last Sunday, a new couple in our church told me they just moved to Phoenix from there. Anyways, hang in there.

Jim N. said...


I also have just seen the episode regarding the murder/assault of your young daughter. Of course, I am sorry for your loss, it was traumatic to even watch let alone to experience. I have experience with Criminal Law and have also read and followed True Crime cases all my adult life. I have read about all kinds of cases and justice processes. One thing that gets me after all these years is that if I was a young child watching the media today, I would think that it must really stink to be the victim in our justice system. It does not seem so bad to be the criminal though, or so it would seem.

The criminal is the one with all the rights, has all sorts of avenues and doctrines of protection. Hey if I kill someone, chances are I won't get caught if I am careful. If I do get caught I will more than likely be offered a plea bargain. Hey if I have money I can pretty much buy my freedom if I don't do anything stupid, like talk to the cops when they want to know what I did to my victim or other such details, but lucky for me I have a whole host of people looking out for me to prevent me from telling the cops the truth and to make sure I keep silent until I can get into a more advantageous situation, like a jury trial, if it even comes to that, if I don't like my "deal".

And if it does go to trial and there were any surviving witnesses, chances are that they will be tormented and have their lives picked apart by the defense attorneys looking for something to work with. Not to mention the million different technicalities that I could get off on. The rules of evidence and litigation suit the criminal, not the so called "victim".

If I do get convicted, chances are I won't get the death penalty, and depending what state I am in, I could be out in as little as 10 years with good behavior and being in the right prison. You see the prisons are all filled with people with drug problems mostly, and instead of needing to be locked in a cage with real criminals, they need treatment, but the government has too much invested in penal profit so that won't happen.

If I do get the death penalty, I will more than likely die of old age first anyway due to the endless appeals I am granted, being the privileged criminal I am. And hey if I die in prison that won't be so bad either, I can get an education, have a full-time job, exercise, socialize, play games, have conjugal visits, even participate in Boxing Matches and if I was in Alabama I could even go to the Rodeo. Not too bad huh?

Sorry to ramble, not to sound bitter, but just making a point. I think that murderers and other offenders that will never get out of prison do not deserve any luxuries, no education, no perks. Ones that eventually get out could use those services but otherwise I dont see their worth. Just a waste of our tax money, the hard working people that these criminals prey upon.

Anyways, again sorry for your loss, I don't know if you agree with my opinions but I can imagine that as a victim yourself that you have experienced some of these things.

Anonymous said...

Dear Becki, I am also a Christian and I think, in all honesty, you and your husband have gone above and beyond by meeting with this man and forigiving him. Only God knows if he is truly repentent in his hurt.
But why are you allowing your selves to go on being upset by this person? Okay, so your husband made a promise. Obviously the Lord hasnt made it happen in 8 years, maybe the guy doesnt deserve another visit. Maybe God wants you both to put it to rest.
Please stop wasting your energy on this guy and worrying about a promise and instead move on with your life. He is just a reminder of what he did to your daughter.
You both don't owe him anything.
You made efforts and it is not working out. Case closed, move on.

Glen said...

Ms. Becki,

I am a GySgt in the U.S. Marines and teach Interviews and Interrogations to Apprentice Special Agents in the U.S. Army's School for Criminal Investigations. I have taken particluar interest in this case for mulitple reasons. Those reasons aren't nearly as important as why I felt compelled to write to you in this post. I am first and foremost a Man of God, and as your Brother in Christ, I want to let you know that to say you and your husband are inspirational would be the most extreme of understatements. As I was reasearching additional information for the case study we are working on for the students, I happeded to come accross your posting regarding the "visit" with Matthew Vaca which has not happened yet. While reading your words, I felt the Holy Spirit compell me to let you and your husband know that you both have carried the burden of this meeting long enough. You have demonstrated in your words and actions from the moment he was first identified (when you and your husband privately prayed for him) the positive ministry of the Holy Spirit working through God's humble servants. Please release yourselves from the burden of this meeting and know that in very real(unseen) spiritual realm, you have already brought light into the darkness he has dwelled in for many years. I will pray for God's peace in the matter for you both and I will also pray that Matthew comes to know our precious Savior the way we do. Blessings to you Both.
Your Brother in Christ
Glen Waldow

omark51 said...

I hope Matt suffers a miserable death. I wish I could be alone with him in a small room for 10 mins. Thats all I need.

Becki said...

Dear omark51,Jeff,Jim N,Glen,E, and everyone else,

Thanks for leaving your remarks. I almost missed them since this comment was left on a post done in May of 2008 (a year ago)

I want you to know that even if you feel that this man (Matt) needs a different punishment than what he received. He is being punished for his crimes. He will never get out of prison. We do not wish him dead by the hands of someone else or by his own hand. God will have the last word in this entire situation, I hope it will be to Matt he is forgiven.(through repentance) That is something that Matt will have to decide for himself. We have NO RIGHT to push our own punishment on him, we would be just as guilty as he is.

We have forgiven him and do not intend to EVER change our mind. I realize many people are angered by what he did. Yes, it was horrible!I do not deny that! However, justice is God's not mine. We miss Liz, but would never wish her back to this sin filled place.

Also, we will not be pursuing the visitation. He does not remember asking Jeff to visit, so we feel that the Lord has freed us from that commitment. Thanks for your prayers and comments.

Elizabeth Saxxon said...

Dear Becki, I always felt that you and your husband were unecessarily tormenting yourself over this "promised visitation."
I felt it was sort of manipulative for the guy to even ask the father of the girl he killed to" please come visit me" Some nerve...and it is quite common for sociopaths to cry or ask for forgiveness or with self pity say" I dont deserve to live, I am going to kill myself"
Only God knows if he is TRULY repentant. Sociopaths are extremely manipulative and can cry and will try to make you feel sorry for them and make themselves the victim. They are very deceptive. What they say and how they act when they are "remorseful" is usually an act. They are actually sorry that they were caught. As I said don't owe that young man anything. You don't even owe him forgiveness. It is something you did to obey Christ and he is blessed to have your forgiveness, hopefully he appreciates it.I am glad you can forgive. I feel so sorry for the parents who cannot and are tormented with rage every day for the killer who took their precious child. I think you can REALLY help those parents with your testimony. Have you ever thought of having a ministry for the healing of parents of murdered children? I am sure God can use you as a instrument to bring healing to many parents who are tortured by bitterness and unforgiveness towards their children's murderers.

Anonymous said...

This bastard does not deserve your forgiveness nor the good Lord's. There is nothing he can do to save him from Hell. He is a waste of our tax money, he is a disgrace to all humanity, and it is OUR DUTY to punish him. I'm reading a lot of bullshit here about "justice being God's". Matthew Vaca deserves one thing: to be publicly castrated and bleed to death.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter and Son. We should be proactive in eradicating scum like this. Support concealed weapons. And quickly kill these bastards like the DC Sniper. People w/ no belief in god don't play by the same rules. They don't empathize. They look at us as sheep. I bet if the law was more swift to punish, the only promise you would have made is to watch him die.
Very sorry for your loss.

Becki said...

Dear Anonymous,(s)
I understand your frustration! Prison is a waste of our tax money. Unfortunately, our government does not see things in the same light that many of us do. Punishment is a must, and swift punishment is best. We would have felt the same way no matter what the outcome for Matt was. If he had been given the death penalty that would have been FINE with us, but that was not to be.We believe in the death penalty. Just because we forgive the man, it does not mean we did not want him punished.

I agree with the fact that people with no belief in God do not play by the same rules!It would be swift justice indeed if all were taken care of like the DC sniper. But even that took five years. Which is virtually the shortest time I can remember that happening in.

I am a proponent of concealed weapons. We have the right to own guns.

I realize that we all have our own ideas of justice. We chose forgiveness, and we have not regretted our choice. It has preserved US. We are not bitter or angry. God has allowed us to move through our grief, and help others.

dayna said...

hello my name is dayna mackey and i know matthew vaca's son his name is freddy and i just recently found out about his father. he made me promise not to tell anyone about his father because he is to ashamed to be known as his son. you must be a very good person to forgive the man that killed your daughter and i respect you for it.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with the fact that people with no belief in God do not play by the same rules!It would be swift justice indeed if all were taken care of like the DC sniper. But even that took five years. Which is virtually the shortest time I can remember that happening in."

It has nothing to do with the fact that he does not believe in god. Its the fact that the guy is garbage and the best thing for him would be to death. The fear of knowing it will be over soon and not knowing what will is next if anything.

I do not believe in god but that does not make me feel like I can go out and hurt people. I would not forgive the person who hurt my child but best believe that rapist do not hold up well in prison.

He has been raped already and is in probably more pain than you can imagine. My older brother went to prison for seven years (drugs) he let me know that even in prison they have a code of conduct and morals

Anonymous said...

I just watched the epidsode of "I Survived," and I don't understand why they changed his name for the show. Was that at the request of the families? I don't understand why they would protect his name otherwise.

I have a very good friend whose sister was murdered by her husband, and I just recently saw them go through the trial. I was amazed at their composure. They have too forgiven their daughter's killer, and admire their family and yours for that attitude. I wish you all the best! Thank you for sharing your story.

Becki said...

Dear Anonymous,

No one requested the name be changed as far as I know. I never asked Brandi. I believe it was a mistake. They gave his last name and anyone can Google it, and find articles from our local newspaper about Liz's death and who killed her, and what happened to Brandi.

I think that forgiveness is the key to being able get through trials, and anything else involved in a loved one's death! Good for your friends. Thanks for commenting!

Tim Fortune said...

Becki, I understand what you all have gone through not in the way of having someone take your child but someone taking your sister. Around the same time as Liz, my sister Vicki was taken by a man that at one time I too wished to spend a few minutes with in a small room where only I would come out. After the pain of the loss you start to feel a bit of pity for such a lost soul and figure out that their death wouldn't make you feel better because it is not going to bring your loved one back. I started to feel guilty when I wanted him dead, like God was disappointed in me. That is when I decided why waste my time full of anger when there are so many great things in life to smile about and appreciate. Knowing that he is in prison for the rest of his life and never getting out is ok with me. You and your husband are much much bigger people then most and I only wish the best for you both. Have an outstanding day!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of respect for you. Like many others, I watched the show about your daughter Liz. It is important for everyone to remember her not for this murder.. but for the wonderful girl that she was. I know people are consumed with hate for this man who caused such a terrible tragedy. But I also know that Liz is home with God now. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for being an amazing woman yourself!

Becki said...

Dear Anonymous,
I had no idea that was still even being aired. Thank you for your comment and kind words.


Nicole said...

Hey Becki,

I'm a normal 19 year old girl who live in Sweden, and I have a question I can't stop to think about. I have just, this morning, seen the episode of "I survived..." (have almost seen all episodes of it) when Brandi tells about that horrible day in May 2000

I just wondering if M.Vaca has told you why he did it? There must be a reason to go from just want to rob two teens, to what he ending up doing instead. Was he furious on everything in his life and just wanted to hurt someone, no matter who is was? Do he feel sexually satisfyed when he is in control or hurt people?

I have, as I wrote above, seen "I Surived" many times, but it is rare they tell what the perpetrator is thinking or why. It's rare (I think?) that the only reason is money or that he/she just was horny and wanted to have sex.(sorry for my choice of words).

I'm reading my second class in Criminology so therefore I'm into this crime-subject.

Hoping for your answer!

Yours sincerely,
Nicole Camnert

Becki said...

Hi Nicole,
Yes we did get an answer, although from a letter I was given Matthew has since changed his story. He practices wica. He has said on many occasions that he would like to do a human sacrifice. He used to go up to girls in school and threaten them, and he even said it to his wife.
The first explanation he gave was that he was high, drunk and listened to the music of Insane Clown Posse, Marilyn Manson and other horrid bands that promote cutting, bleeding, killing and sacrificing. He told my husband and I to our faces that he was going to tell anyone that asked that they shouldn't listen to that kind of music because of the message it sends. I don't think he ever followed through with that promise. We honestly believe that his intention was to kill someone that night. Premeditated action, just not premeditated victim. I hope that answers your questions.

Jan said...

You speak only with the peace a Christian carries. Although I can not relate personally to the devastating pain that comes with the loss of a child, I get it. God's blessings to you and your family. Your example of forgiveness is admirable.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian, but upon seeing this story on the above mentioned television show I feel some disappointment and dissatisfaction with God. I realize that this is not helpful to the parents of either of the women, and the moderator can delete the comment; no problem there. I know about the free will defense of God. He allows terrible things to happen to His own children at the hands of evil people...and demonic angels too. But this is a problem for me: He ought to protect His own from hideous violence. Since the women were both Christians, His inaction to prevent them from coming into contact to begin with this killer really bothers me. I guess this man was going to kill and rape some woman, starting from that store. Surely in God's estimation no one should suffer this, however. It doesn't help me though, for the two were His own and so young and should have been steered away from this guy. Was he acting on impulse? He saw them come into the store, at random. Absurd timing. That's my problem in this tragedy. God does not spare His own followers from all sorts of chaotic sufferings, even horrible ways to die. I hope my death is a good one - IOW, a relatively painless and fear free one.

Becki said...

Dear Anonymous,
I do understand your feelings. I often wondered why God would allow such evil, and allow His children to suffer. It is at those times I must remember that God not only told us that in this world we would have tribulations, He promised us that we would. But, He promised that He would always be with us! He would never leave us. Yes, He could have intervened, and stopped it. Yet He knows what the outcome may have been if this man had not been stopped. There could have been many killed rather than just my daughter. God alone knew that my husband and I would allow this senseless tragedy to be turned into something that is glorifying His name. Be sure to check out the book that I have written that has the entire story in it. Through My Tears-Awash in Forgiveness. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Perhaps it will give you some answers to your questions. Thank you for voicing your opinion!

Becki Reiser