We Regret to Inform You ... Impact Video
This video is part of an online death notification training module for first responders developed by the FBI and Penn State.
Well, I had three children. The oldest was Charlotte. I have a middle child Andrea and my son Bill.
We were always a really close-knit family. Charlotte, she was so sweet, but she was a really quiet, kind of timid type of girl. She wasn't real headstrong, and I think part of that is that she felt she always wanted to please. She just was a really, really good kid.
I guess maybe in the back of my head I kind of had an idea that something really bad had happened. They told me that she had been stabbed 27 times and that she, by all indications, had been raped.
That morning she had been woken up by a thunderstorm that went through, and I heard it, too. It was a pretty violent thunderstorm. She actually got up around 4:30, 5:00 and decided to go out and get her papers delivered. I got a phone call from The Morning Call. So I got up and answered the phone and it was her district sales manager. He said, "Well, we have a little bit of a problem. Her cart that she pushes was found, but she was not found." We had the police involved now because we found a newspaper and her Walkman in the side yard, and she always did have her Walkman on when she was out on her route. And so at that point in time I knew that there was something drastically wrong.
I kind of pretty much shut down. I wasn't eating. I wasn't drinking. I just kind of sat in the rocking chair, and as people would come and people would leave, people would tell me things that they'd heard on the radio or—I just kind of like sat there and rocked, like unbelieving what was going on. It just doesn't happen, not in Allentown, not to us.
I was made aware that she was missing around 7:00 in the morning, and they came to do the notification around 3:00 in the afternoon. There were so many family members there in my living room at that point in time. We went out into our kitchen which had a French door that we closed, and they sat us all down at the table, my brother and I on one side and the officer and the coroner on the other side, and told me that it was definitely Charlotte.
And, of course, I didn't really know how to react at that point in time because I was—I think I had had enough information that I kind of knew that that’s what they were going to tell me. It had to be done. I had to know it. I had to get the answers that they were able to provide.
I know that they have to remain a little bit separated from what’s going on. In the death notification, there’s no easy way to handle that information, to either deliver it or receive it. It is an important piece. It has to happen.
And it seems like when the sun sets on the day that they die, it’s like a finality for me. It’s the last day that they were living and it’s done. I try and live with her happy memories. We talk about her often. We don't put her in the back burner. She’s not in a closet somewhere. She’s Charlotte. I had three kids. I still have three kids. Whenever anyone asks me, I have three kids. Some people will say, "I have two kids," because they don't want anybody to ask them about that third child. I'll tell anybody, "She was my Charlotte."
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