Monday, March 26, 2007


I am having a really, really hard time. It has been almost 8 years and for some reason I can't breathe when I think about Andi. Don't get me life is good, but my heart just does not seem to be mending like I feel it should. I don't think one can ever recover from the loss of a child.

I am making a video of Andi for a presentation I am doing in April. I will post it one here in a few days for you all to see. So far it is so powerful. I can't wait for you all to see it.

God my heart hurts. I am posting this song on is so much how I feel right now. I know this blog is supposed to be all about child advocacy, but this is how a parent who has lost a child feels inside when this happens. You can say, "You are just depressed," or "It will all be okay." But, no it won't. Ever.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Jurors on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for John Evander Couey, who was found guilty last week of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.
The majority of the jury -- 10 in favor of death, 2 against it -- rendered the decision about 5:30 p.m. ET. In Florida, the vote does not have to be unanimous to recommend the death penalty.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Richard Howard will make the final decision on Couey's sentence, but judges typically follow a jury's recommendation. (Watch the jury announce its sentence )
As the sentence was read, Couey, 48, sat in the courtroom, fiddled with his tie, and interlaced his fingers.
"This is justice for Jessie, but not just Jessie," said Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, who cried and hugged supporters after Couey was escorted from the courtroom.
"I'm sure there's other victims out there that they didn't get justice," Lunsford continued. "You crossed paths with Couey and he hurt you, today is justice for you regardless of who you are, whether you're a stranger or a relative."
Asked if the recommended sentence brings him closer to healing, he said, "I'm still not too sure about closure."
She clutched a stuffed toy dolphin
Jessica Marie Lunsford was abducted from her Homosassa Springs, Florida, home February 23, 2005. Her body was found nearly a month later, buried within sight of her own home and behind the house where Couey was staying with a relative.
She was found wrapped in garbage bags, holding a stuffed toy dolphin, her hands bound with stereo wire.
Investigators said Couey abducted Lunsford from her bedroom. Jessica died from asphyxiation after being sexually assaulted, according to a medical examiner's report.
Police arrested Couey in Georgia in March 2005 during the search for Jessica.
His confession helped lead investigators to the girl's body, but a judge ruled the confession was inadmissible in court because he had asked for a lawyer the day before he told police he committed the crime.
Evidence at the trial included Jessica's fingerprints in a closet in Couey's trailer and DNA from Jessica's blood and Couey's semen on a mattress in his bedroom.
Although Wednesday's decision may have seemed quick, "we did have to discuss it," juror Thais Prado, 20, said.
"It was something -- of course it's not an easy decision ... it is a person's life. It didn't seem like it was quick, going through it," said juror Marvin Gunn, 38.
Prado said much of the testimony and evidence was emotionally trying.
"Pictures of the victim, once she was recovered, what was used on her body to tie her -- those are pictures that are very alive in my mind, images that are going to be very hard to forget, if I ever do."
"Jessie was taken from her home, that's the hard part," said alternate juror Osvaldo Pradere, 47, who said he has two small children. "Unfortunately in our society, kids aren't even safe in their own homes, in their own bed."
He said he would hold his children closer now after serving in the case. "Honestly, it will change my life forever."
Jurors noted Couey's lack of remorse or reaction, but said they focused mostly on the evidence presented.
Fueled by anger
Mark Lunsford appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" recently and was asked if he hated Couey.
"Yeah, definitely. Most definitely," Lunsford said. "But that's what fuels me ... that's where I get my energy to do what I do. It's the anger."
Wednesday, Lunsford said he felt "relief, but still angry."
The death penalty, he said, "Will never compare to the misery that [convicted killers] caused their victims, never."
Lunsford has led a push for stricter sex offender laws since his daughter's 2005 death.
Gov. Jeb Bush signed the Jessica Lunsford Act into Florida law. The legislation calls for prison sentences of 25 years to life for sex offenses against children under age 12, better registration of convicted sex offenders and a Global Positioning System notification mechanism to track down probation violators.
Lunsford read a statement outside the courthouse the day the verdict was handed down, asking that his daughter's death serve as a wake-up call to legislators across the country.
"We have gone through hell and come out the other side with a mission: Before the next family loses a child to America's failed system, we're going to hold lawmakers accountable for allowing this open season on our children," he said.
"We are coming to Washington. We are bringing with us a dedicated plan for a federally funded, federally strategized and nationally waged war on child predators. We will force them to listen."

Jessica Lunsford

Man convicted of killing Jessica Lunsford faces sentencing today

MIAMI (AP) - A Florida jury reconvenes today to consider the fate of a sex offender convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. John Couey was convicted of first-degree murder, sexual battery on a child, kidnapping and burglary last Wednesday. The jury will deliberate whether he should face life in prison or the death penalty. Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, has said in interviews that he's "all for the death penalty." A psychologist for the defense testified during the trial that Couey has signs of mental illness and mental retardation. Those are mitigating circumstances that could spare him the death penalty. A judge will ultimately decide Couey's sentence, taking the jury's recommendation into consideration.
Photo Copyright Getty Images

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Message from Rebecca

In an effort to keep this blog with a human touch and not all just news stories copied from the AP wire I will do my best to comment on things.

I spent some time on the phone yesterday with Jessica Lunsford's father Mark, as well as other parent's who have lost children to abduction and or murder. First of all I must say that I just want to give Mark a hug. I can tell you from personal experience what he is going through is something a parent should NEVER have to endure. To sit in an open courtroom and hear all the things a predatory monster did to your child is torture. So, if you want to send an email or some encouragement to Mark please visit The Jessica Lunsford Foundation website and send your thoughts and prayers his way. Trust me...he needs it.

To the other parent's I visited with yesterday. I am so proud of all of you. Together with our War Against Predators we will change this nation. I am so happy that we are uniting with one voice. There is strength in numbers and each and every one of us have a powerful story and message to share. Let's do this thing.

And just a personal message to my daughter, Andi (don't mean to sound weird here):

Andi...I will never give up. I will fight for your memory and legacy forever. I love you.


Ex-Con Guilty in Fla. Girl's Slaying
Thursday, March 08, 2007
By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI — A sex offender was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl and burying her alive in a case that led to a crackdown around the country on people convicted of sex crimes. Jurors deliberated about four hours before returning the verdict against John Evander Couey in the slaying of Jessica Lunsford, who was snatched from her bedroom in February 2005 about 150 yards from the trailer where Couey had been living.
Her body was found in a shallow hole, encased in two black plastic trash bags. She had suffocated and was found clutching a purple stuffed dolphin.

Couey, 48, was found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery on a child, kidnapping and burglary. The jury next must decide whether he should get death by injection or life in prison.
Couey stood staring straight ahead and swaying slightly as the verdicts were read. Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, who has helped push efforts for tougher monitoring of sex offenders, showed no emotion.

Outside the courtroom, Mark Lunsford said that he believed all along "that justice would prevail" in his daughter's murder but that the case wasn't complete until a sentence is imposed.
"This is only the first part. We've still got the second part," he said.
Circuit Judge Richard Howard will ultimately decide whether Couey should be sentenced to death. He is not required to follow the jury's recommendation, but judges give the recommendation great legal weight.

Couey admitted to investigators shortly after his arrest that he committed the crime, but the confession was thrown out because he did not have a lawyer present as he had requested.
"I felt confident that we had an overwhelming amount of facts we could present to the jury," said Brad King, chief prosecutor in the case, outside the courthouse after the verdict.
The evidence at trial included DNA from Jessica's blood and Couey's semen on a mattress in his bedroom, as well as Jessica's fingerprints in a closet in the trailer.
Jail guards and investigators testified that Couey repeatedly admitted details of the slaying after his arrest and that he insisted he had not meant to kill the third-grader but panicked as police searched for her.

Couey had a record as a sex offender. In 1991, he was arrested on a charge of fondling a child. In 1978, he was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth and kissing her.

But authorities had not known that Couey was living near the Lunsford home even though he was required to tell them he had moved.
Jessica's killing prompted Florida and a number of other states to pass new laws cracking down on sex offenders and improve tracking of them through databases and satellite positioning devices.

Sentencing is to begin Tuesday. A psychologist testified for the defense that Couey has signs of mental illness and mental retardation, mitigating circumstances that could help spare him the death penalty.

Couey spent much of the trial drawing with colored pencils.
The trial was moved from Citrus County in central Florida to Miami because of intense local media coverage.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


National and State AMBER Alert Information
National Coordination.

On April 30, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 into law.
Building on the steps already taken by the Bush Administration to support AMBER Alert programs, this Act codified the national coordination of state and local AMBER Alert programs, including the development of guidance for issuance and dissemination of AMBER Alerts and the appointment of a national AMBER Alert Coordinator.
In anticipation of the passage of this national legislation, on October 2, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft appointed the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs to serve as national AMBER Alert coordinator.
For more information about the national coordination of the AMBER Plan, visit the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Program's AMBER Plan web site.

State Legislation.

In the fall of 2001 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) launched a campaign to encourage the development of AMBER Alert plans across the country. The success of the program has led to the creation of more than 100 known plans nationwide. NCMEC’s goal is to offer technical assistance and training, in concert with the U.S. Department of Justice, to all AMBER Alert plans throughout the country.
The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) has developed a legal database of AMBER Alert statutes. This database is operated and maintained by FVTC. Please direct any questions or feedback to FVTC.
Search the AMBER Alert Legal Database.

A Message from Erin Runnion

Dear Friends and Fellow Survivors,

This letter is intended for parents who share the horror of having a child abducted and sexually assaulted. For many of us, this nightmare ended with the discovery that our baby was murdered. For far too many, we simply do not yet know what happened or where our child is…they are still missing. Whatever the details of our child’s experience, we share a passion that is undeniably powerful…especially when we work together.

Tomorrow, barring further delays, Mark Lunsford will be going to his first day of the murder trial of his daughter, Jessica. He would like to ensure that this last onslaught of national media attention be put to the best use possible – further laws to protect our children and greater awareness of the prevalence of these crimes. Over the years we have all talked about working together and have done so here and there, but never like this.

The trial is expected to end within the month and Mark would like for us to join together to announce a Parents Coalition to wage “War on Child Predators.” We, the parents, have become the face of both tragedy and protection for millions of Americans. It is time for us to take control of the debate over child safety. Before one more child goes missing, and one more parent is thrust into the whirlwind of national media under those circumstances, we believe it is time to form a united front and demand national action.

The National Association for the Protection of Children ( is working with legislators to draft and introduce two bills before the verdict in the Jessica Lunsford trial. The first law is a full disclosure bill to ensure that we make Prosecutors and Judges accountable for plea-bargaining and lenient sentences for crimes against children. The second law will fund the fight against the growing multi-billion dollar child pornography industry. Attached is a one page summary of Protect’s proposal to you for the parents coalition. In short, Protect will continue to lobby hard for these bills all year and their efforts will be expedited with the pressure from the media’s coverage of our coalition. The folks at Protect do not intend to promote this coalition as their own, but rather would like us to use this opportunity to join forces and fight for these important measures.

Mark is inviting us to join him after the verdict, when every media outlet in America is tuned in, to announce our parent’s coalition “War on Child Predators.” After reading the summary please let me know:
1) If you will sign on as a member of the parent coalition;
2) If you would like to attend the press-conference (probably the third week of March – yes, that soon!)
3) If you would need financial assistance in order to make it to Florida or DC and
4) If you are wiling to speak to the media and/or legislators.

You may join the coalition by signing on even if you don’t think you’ll be available to go to Florida at the end of the month. The extent to which you participate is entirely up to you, but the impact will be the result of our collective representation of the reality of these crimes.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. This could be a historic step for the cause of child protection.
Warmest regards,

Erin Runnion
Samantha’s Mother and Founding Director
The Joyful Child Foundation - In Memory of Samantha Runnion
PO Box 12680
Westminster, CA 92685



If Law Enforcement or Crime Victims are Intrerested in this Seminar Please Email Us at:

Andi's Safe Place


Training for Those Who Protect and Serve
APRIL 27, 2007
0800 - 1700

Meinders School of Business
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106

Training Includes:

An Overview of Victimology
Victims' Services
Criminal Investigations
Incorporating Victimology into Criminal Investigations
Speak-out Session With Crime Victims
Q&A Session with a Panel Including Police, Victims, Advocates, and Academics

Registration will end April 6, 2007
This seminar is limited to the first 150 registrants.

Please Mail Registration Information to:

Beth Green
Department of Criminal Justice
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
OKC, OK 73106
This seminar is open to anyone, but will be geared toward Law Enforcement.


May 15, 1999 my life changed forever. My beautiful 12 year-old daughter, Andria “Andi” Nichole Brewer was kidnapped from her father’s rural Arkansas home. After a three day state wide search for her that included hundreds of volunteers, state, local, and federal law enforcement her abductor confessed to the FBI that he had abducted Andi. He had waited for her father to leave the house then he went to the door, told her that her grandparent’s were ill and that she needed to leave with him. He then drove her 10 miles away to the town of Cove, Arkansas down an old logging road where he raped and strangled her. We learned from his confession that she fought him and begged for her life. She promised not to tell that he had raped her if only he would take her home. He didn’t. He strangled her to death. After he murdered her he pulled her 400 yards further into the wooded area and covered her small nude body with scrub brush and disposed of her clothing into the raging Buffalo River.

The murderer, Karl Roberts, was a relative by marriage, so none of us found it odd when he helped all of us search for Andi for the three days she was missing. When we finally learned what had happened to Andi I wanted to die with her. There is no other way to explain the loss of a child other than to say that dying by slow torture would be better. I have never experienced such great pain emotionally or physically. Unless you have lost a child there is no way to for me to explain it in a way you may understand. There was a little relief when Karl Roberts was found guilty of first degree capital murder and was given the death penalty. For a time that seemed to pacify my rage and hate for him, but soon enough he began to consume my thoughts again. I hated him. I wanted to blow his brains out. I wanted him to suffer long and slow. I even gave him a nickname “Spawn of Satan” and prayed to God that he was being raped and tortured in prison.

Hate and un-forgiveness consumed me. My thoughts were only on ways to kill Karl Roberts myself. Then one morning I was watching Katie Couric on NBC when the story of Gary Ridgway , the Green River killer, was broadcast. Ridgway was sentenced for the murders of 48 women making him the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. He was to receive 48 consecutive life terms for the murders of the women he killed. I watched with great interest as the crime victim’s families were each allotted 10 minutes to give a victim impact statement. NBC showed clips from several statements: "I hope you rot in hell, you son of a bitch.” and “You are not God. It was not your right to decide who lived and who died.” Ridgway sat stoic and hard, eyes squinted seemingly full of hate.

It wasn’t until Bob Rule, father of 16-year-old Linda Rule, stood and faced the killer that something inside of me and Gary Ridgway broke. Bob Rule looked straight at the Green River killer and said."Mr. Ridgway, there are people here who hate you, I'm not one of them. I forgive you for what you've done. You've made it difficult to live up to what I believe, and that is what God says to do, and that is forgive, and he doesn't say to forgive just certain people, he says forgive all. So you are forgiven.”Ridgway’s face softened and his lips began to tremble. Then he began to cry. At that precise moment, I realized that the only way I would be able to go on living was to stop hating. I had to do what Bob Rule had done and let it go, let it quit killing me, let Andi rest in peace.

I had been consumed with hate for the man who had murdered my daughter. My heart and soul had been filled with blackness and it nearly killed me. It had almost destroyed my family, too. I knew that if something didn’t change I would be in the graveyard, dead from a broken heart, next to my little daughter. What Bob Rule had done that day by taking back the power from the Green River killer was life changing for me. It was then that I felt sorry for the other crime victims in the Ridgway case. I knew exactly what they had been feeling because I, too, had been in a courtroom and faced my own daughter’s killer. I remember seething with hate as I looked at him. I wanted to scream profanities at him. I remember feeling the anger as he sat there looking much as Ridgway had, stoic and hard. But, now sometimes wish I had said the things in court that Mr. Rule had said. “I forgive you for what you’ve done.” I sometimes wish I had taken the power back then , when I gave my own victim impact statement.

But I didn’t and I’m okay with that. Because now I have and I don’t hate anymore