Victory for Vicki

On September 13, 2017, our family was notified by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal had denied Atwood’s Writ of Habeas Corpus. 

The defense had a small window of time to appeal this ruling back to the court. 

On November 3, 2017 they filed a motion for a Panel Rehearing or Rehearing en banc before the 9th Circuit, meaning they were asking to have another chance to plead their case in court in front of a panel of 11 judges. 

The State of Arizona filed their response to this motion on December 5, 2017.

Today, January 11, 2018, our family was informed that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion for Rehearing en banc.

Denied. Home Stretch.

After almost 20 years since the Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed (March of 1998), we are truly on the home stretch. This case has moved at such a glacial pace for so long it’s reassuring the momentum it has gained.

So, what does all of this mean?

In layman’s terms, the defense has 90 days, with one extension of 60 days, to appeal this to the United States Supreme Court. 

150 days.

And, the United States Supreme Court can do one of two things.

  • Grant Oral Arguments in the case
  • Deny the petition 

IF the Supreme Court grants oral arguments, the court would hear arguments and rule by June 2019. 

IF and When they deny the claims presented, a Writ of Execution will be issued. 

Yes, I am going out on a limb and wagering that they will NOT hear Oral Arguments in this matter and a Writ of Execution will be ordered. 

I could give you a list till next Tuesday of the reasons why the court won’t hear this case, but the reality of the claims left to argue in an almost 34 year old case, presented to them already in two other instances with the miles of paperwork, rulings and hearings that have already taken place, I just can not imagine our nations highest court taking this on. 

As the last chapter writes itself, I hope that you know how very much our family appreciates your love and support. Who would have ever imagined a beautiful little 8 year old, blue eyed girl, who loved riding her bike, playing softball & watching her Papas race cars, would impact the hearts of so many? We are Vicki’s voice. Our strength continues to grow with her memory and with you.

Love Never Forgets. 

September 17, 2017

The afternoon of September 17, 1984 the world of my family, friends and community was forever changed. The disappearance of my sister, Vicki Lynne, would become so much more than we ever knew.

In the days and months that she was missing, people tied yellow ribbons to everything as a symbol of hope for her safe return. On February 7, 1985, Vicki had been missing 143 days. To bring a positive token of love and hope for her safe return, our family with students & teachers from Homer Davis Elementary School, planted a Palo Verde tree in the courtyard. Yellow ribbons were tied to the branches of the tree. https://youtu.be/v0W4U0GLhDo

For the next 30 years the tree grew tall and strong, blooming yellow flowers, still representing hope as we fought to bring justice to her. In October of 2015, the tree was uprooted and blown over in a storm. We were devastated that the beautiful symbol of love and hope was forever gone, and although we thought to replace it we knew we never could properly do so.

With the help of some amazing men, we were able to have a bench made from the wood of the Palo Verde tree and just a few short days before school started this August, the bench was placed in the front office of Homer Davis Elementary bringing back to the school the beautiful symbol of hope in Loving Memory of Vicki Lynne.

My mom and dad were able to take a special part of the tree which they will hang in their dining room, it will have the scripture “With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26 placed with it.

I’m so very grateful for all those involved in making this possible. What started out in February of 1985 to be a positive tribute to my sister, still gets to be part of our lives for years to come.

A very special thanks to Jaime Sirminski who spearheaded the project and was able to put it all together, Rob Assenmacher, of Kevin Stout Operations who did the the CAID laser cut of the butterfly backing, and Matt McDonald of MHM Resources for milling the wood. I hope you realize what an incredible gift you have made by taking something so important to so many and making it beautiful again. 

To Dr. Baker, Superintendent of Flowing Wells Unified School District, Mr. Dunbar, Principal of Homer Davis School,Chad Miller, Principal Flowing Wells Junior High School, and all the staff, thank you for encouraging us to keep a piece of Vicki’s memory forever part of the school.

Vicki lives on in so many of us, our hopes are to continue to honor her in a positive and beautiful way. I encourage you, today especially, on the 33rd anniversary of her disappearance to share any stories you may have about her. If you never had the chance to meet her, share how her life and death impacted you… we will never be able to know all those who she has touched, but we do love to know her voice in strong in us all.

If you happen to stop in and sit on the bench, be sure to share a picture here or via Facebook. 

Today we will honor the beautiful little freckled face, blue eyed girl who lives in our heart forever.

Don’t forget Vicki Lynne.

September 13, 2017

Ever have things happen but you don’t share because your busy, don’t think they would make sense to anyone else or just don’t share because its just a moment, you laugh along with and not think much of it?

First thing this morning I was scanning documents at work, when I pulled up the file to review before I attached it in an email, all the pages had a yellow line stripe through them.

I went back, scanned them again, to still find the yellow stripe on all the pages. I forwarded the file with an added note that I apologized about the yellow stripe and was looking into why this would be happening.

I did a few other things and went back to the copy machine and found a yellow “sign here” tag stuck on the inside of the feeder portion of the lid. I took it off… then sent an email to my fellow office mates that if you ever have a yellow stripe on your scanned documents to look for a “sign here” tag in the document feeder… truly I must have over looked the tag the first few times I opened and shut the lid to the copier and document feeder and missed the obvious yellow tag…

We all cracked up about it … it was silly to be honest, and I wouldn’t really think much more about it until a short time later when I hung up the phone with Attorney General’s Office.

And then I thought about all the “things” that may have been happening lately that I wasn’t paying attention to but should have been…

And the conversations to follow with my parents and siblings sharing similar stories about signs, feelings, things that have been going on with them lately too.

When Vicki disappeared in September of 1984, yellow ribbons were everywhere, from mailboxes and car antenna’s to people wearing them pinned on their shirts… there’s still one in the window of my Tahoe today.

So the yellow stripe on the documents this morning still has me giggling…

Today the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the original appeal was filed in March of 1998. A copy of the opinion can be found here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/09/13/14-99002.pdf

Nineteen years to get to this day, its so serene knowing that that something you’ve waited for for 33 years is possible. It’s reachable. It WILL happen.

The defense has 14 days to file for a motion to ask for a rehearing, which we know they will do, its up to the 9th Circuit to give an extension timeline, and we will remain confident based on the ruling issued today, they will deny this motion.

Once that is denied, the defense has 90 days to file for the Writ of Certiorari, basically appealing to the United States Supreme Court to hear their case, which can only be extended once, for 60 days.

Vicki’s case has been presented before the US Supreme Court on TWO other occasion’s, both ruling in her favor, and we are confident that they will do so again. The timeline for that is unclear, but once they do make a ruling, a writ of execution can be issued.

… “A writ of execution can be issued” its actually strange to write that.Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, 4

We know he will fight like a coward to the last possible moment he can, it’s a given in the 33 years …

Tonight, I’m grateful that we have turned the page to the last chapter.

As we live through this last chapter, we will be her voice, and relish in the fact that we get to see the twinkle of her eyes in the faces and smiles of her nieces and nephews and will cherish the gifts she continues to send us…

Love Never Forgets.

June 7th, 2017

On Wednesday, June 7th, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in our case.

It’s been two months since that hearing and I’ve written this and walked away, trying to find the right words to say what I wanted … The brutal truth is that I feel that the hearing on June 7th was the opportunity for the defense to have their final moment in the sun and they failed miserably.

There were three points brought forward that day:

1. Law Enforcement Misconduct. 

I was shocked they brought this out as I thought this argument had been previously ruled on and settled. I could give Mr. Hammond a list of software and apps I can use to enhance photographs. What he is trying to bring forward is “new photographic evidence” to argue that multiple law enforcement agencies collaborated across states in September of 1984 to frame Atwood in the kidnapping of a child whom was not recovered at the time, with photographs that are not date stamped. This seems to be one of the furthest stretching plots of a bad B movie I’ve heard. I actually feel bad that they still want to argue this theory, it was 1984. Why would any one person, let alone multiple Law Enforcement Agents from multiple agencies try to frame Atwood just days after the disappearance of my sister? If I were going to give the defense any advice, I’d say give up on this one….

2 & 3. PTSD and Ineffective Counsel.

It’s easier to group these two together for me, my brain hops back and forth with the two points, because I feel they actually meld together.

The claim or question is, did Atwood suffer from “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” at the time he drove through our neighborhood, kidnapped my sister as she rode her bike innocently on a sunny afternoon, sexually assaulted her and then left her for dead in the dessert? And, why is this diagnosis important for the defense?

If it’s proved it would alert the sentencing that was handed down in May of 1987.

In 2013, in 3 days of testimony in the district court by Mental Health Professionals brought forward by both sides, they testified that Atwood did not suffer from PTSD until Post Incarceration, meaning after he had been in prison for the kidnapping & murder of my sister.  The Mental Health Professionals also agreed on the fact that they could diagnose him with Sociopath, Antti-Social Disorder & Pedophilia,

During the trial, Atwood’s attorney successful suppressed from the jury Atwood’s previous offenses that included the “groping and kissing” of 10 year old girl, the more violent sexual misconduct of a 4 year old boy, and I’m not sure if it is shown in any of the pre-trial or trial documentation but it was reported at one point that Atwood’s first offense was actually against an 18 month old baby, but because of his age and that of the child’s it was not presented in court.

Atwood does not think sex with children should be illegal. You should STOP reading this if you think sex with a child is ok….

At the time of trial Stanton Bloom had 2 of the 3 aggravating charges dropped. I’m not sure how people who have been through traumatic event’s in their life remember things, but for me, I remember things in parts and pieces like a putting a puzzle together, I was 11 when my life was ripped apart by Atwood’s crime. And my memories are often triggered by events like the hearing in June. What came out for me were raw emotions similar to what I felt in the days probably close to the time when Bloom successfully had 2 of the 3 aggravating charges dropped…  knowing the jury wouldn’t hear everything I thought they should, knowing Atwood is guilty of the murder of my sister, knowing it’s been proven, knowing the horrible things he did to children prior to taking her life, and knowing that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could rule today and he could walk a free man. 

It’s a fear that is crippling in unexplainable ways to my family and I….

What I didn’t understand back from the time Bloom came to represent Atwood was that he was a pioneer in his field, Atwood’s parents went to the best to represent their son in one of the most notorious crimes in Southern Arizona in the 1980’s and his parents banked their money and prestige would once again free their son from yet another crime. They hired the best. They paid the best. And even though Atwood would swear he wanted his attorney to do something different 30 years ago to save his white ass from the punishment he’s going to receive in the murder of my sister, I didn’t understand that what Bloom would do all those years ago, his work, would actually help us today. And I believe that the Justices will agree with us on this point.

I haven’t spoken to one person in the years following that would say that Bloom did anything less than fight with passion to represent his client, by the law, even if he knew the truth. And I find it hard to believe that a defendant would beg their attorney to please make sure the jury knows they think it should be legal to have sex with children. Oh, and please please tell them about how I have been institutionalized and the crimes I’ve committed prior, and let me read the letter I wrote to my lover in Oklahoma in which I stated I would make sure the next child I sexually assaulted wouldn’t live to tell. Because anyone in their right mind listening to these arguments would not find sympathy in any defendant.

Which brings us to the ineffective counsel claim.

I’ll be honest, as a child thrusted into this reality, I thought Bloom was the most vile man aside from his client until many years later when I realized how hard he fought to defend Atwood would actually help us. He was a pioneer in his field, and continued to lead a very successful career up until his death. Regardless of his clients guilt, he fought tooth and nail to defend him.

And, I’m not surprised that Atwood would throw Bloom to the wolves now to save his own life, even though Atwood was uncooperative and adamant that Bloom make sure his history wasn’t revealed in court then, he’s been sitting in prison a long time, on Death Row, getting a college education, being married and breathing every day. He’s had a lot of time to reconsider what should have been done…. it boils down to the fact that Bloom represented Atwood in a way no other attorney was capable of in that era. And, I feel very strongly that the money that Atwood’s parents paid to have Bloom represent him has paid dividends for us now. His parents just banked on their money freeing their son once again from the punishment he rightfully deserved.

The most comical point of Hammond’s arguments from June 7th was when he emotionally claimed to the court that his client was “the most vilified criminal” in Southern Arizona. I could NOT believe my ears… literal jaw drop.

Sociopath. Pedophile. Anti-Social Disorder. Those are diagnosis by “Mental Health Professionals” given to his client, but he graveled to the court how his poor client had been “Vilified” and compared to Charles Manson. Pathetic argument at best. If I was a friend to Mr. Hammond, I would have felt very sorry for him watching …

But it lead me to wonder if Mr Hammond is successful in this appellate process to free Atwood, his poor vilified client, would he move Atwood into his neighborhood to roam freely, unsupervised? Better yet, I wonder if he would invite Atwood stay with The Hammond Family and their grandchildren, without supervision, of course, and prove to all of us that this poor vilified man won’t harm anyone.

Who am I kidding? Hammond isn’t gonna have Atwood over for dinner or let his client near his grandchildren. He represents one of the most vile people to walk this earth, but we wouldn’t want this man free in his neighborhood…

I’d like you to raise your hand if you could walk into a court room and be juror and know:

  1. The defendant has had sexual misconduct with children as young as 18 months.
  2. He was institutionalized and released because he wasn’t rehabilitatable (How is this even possible?)
  3. He thinks sex with children should be legal
  4. Even in prison he has tried to contact children
  5. He promised the next child wouldn’t talk

And not convict him on the scientific evidence that was presented in court without knowing his confession of the crime down to the details of her last cries.

What it boils down to, as we wait of the 9th Circuit to make a ruling is this:

  1. Can the court find truth in the photographic evidence?
  2. Does the court believe that multiple agencies collaborated to frame Atwood in the days following my sisters death without a body to prove she was even dead? She was missing a few days while this was going on.
  3. Bloom did not effectively represent his client.

In the weeks following the hearing the most common thing people said about it, aside from details that they never realized about his criminal history, was that in the hearing Vicki was never referred to by her name but as the victim.

I didn’t really know how to explain it to people other than to say that in the eyes of the court & attorney’s, she isn’t their daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend…. she’s just another case… and it’s not to say they don’t care, they just still aren’t living this nightmare like we continue to.

So, we will remember her wisdom eyes, those glossy blues that were bigger than life. That she was a competitor whether you met her on the playground to play tether ball or on the fields to play softball, she meant business and you better be ready. That she may have wondered why you slept with socks on. That she didn’t like pizza but Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, 4tacos weren’t safe if she showed up at the table. That we drove the yellow Barbie jeep around the house what may have been a 1,000 miles and when we got in trouble we would still play together passing our things through our secret hole in our closet wall. She captivated an audience with her presence …. she just had this magic about her.

Vicki is more than a case to so many people, we are her voice, she will never be forgotten…

The Dugout.

The Dugout.

Where new friendships are formed, hardships are overcome, laughter is shared, encouragement is given, and memories of a lifetime are made.

When I think back to my days playing softball, I honestly can’t tell you how many games or tournaments we won. How many times I struck out or made the game winning hit. What I can tell you now is the friendships that were formed behind the chain link fences of Jacob’s Park, in the “dugout” came something so incredibly special.

As I listened to Coach Beau talk to the girls Sunday after a tough lose to the Avalanche, I knew he saw so much more than most as we were putting the tough weekend we had behind us. I kept thinking about the quote, “The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, but the ones who don’t give up when they lose.”

Let’s face it, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and not be able to move forward. What I love about this game is the ability to take teachable players exactly how to do that very thing. Move forward. Inning by inning. Hit by hit. Breathe. Let it go.

Regardless of the tough weekend, our girls show so much GRIT when they come together. We did show our age, we are a young team of mighty Emeralds, and we made rookie mistakes. I know I look forward to watching them continue to grow.

I just know that these last weeks the girls have shown me (I’m sure many will agree) more than I expected … it speaks volumes for the potential that lies within. That is what is truly more important than any win, is the desire within. Not to be the best, but to always give your best. All things our girls are learning inning by inning in the dugout.

Shout outs to:

Taylor and Nakia in the circle last weekend. WOW. Just WOW! These two girls stood in and pitched their hearts out. They both lead their team into the weekend and kept us in the games.

Charolette had a great play stopping an infield hit and throwing to Kyleigh right out of the box Saturday morning. She also had an excellent infield pop fly catch against Polson later in the day.

Ellie grabbed a bunt and threw to Ky at fist to get another infield out in that first game Saturday morning. She had a great play catching an infield fly ball Sunday against the Avalanche to get the out and end a tough inning.

Rylee grabbed a hard hit and making the out with Ky, continuing the spree of great plays in a tough game Saturday morning.

Kyleigh had great plays defending first with her team.

Nakia snagged an infield pop fly Sunday morning against the Avalance that had us on our feet. 

Kiera, she’s a fighter in the batters box. This girl is one to watch, I am still putting my money on her for a homer before anyone else. She’s hungry, I know she will get it.

Addison and Madison are battling every inning in the box and in the field. I’m not going to ever call favorites with any of these amazing girls, but I will say these two have the best smiles and those smiles are contagious whether we are winning or losing… they are gifts we all need on and off the fields. 

As for Mackenzie, I think she’s found what she loves, and it’s behind home plate. She caught 6 of the 12 innings we played last weekend and came into her own. She gave her heart, and we will nurture that fire that’s there…

My favorite moment of the weekend was Sunday mornings opening cheer the girls did. I didn’t record it, it’s the first one I’ve missed, but I was coming back from the ladies room and was late to the punch. The game starting cheer included the girls bringing their coaches into it… it shows a lot about what they think of them and I hope that years from now they have these men in their life cheering them on.

Most importantly, I hope that they form a lifetime of friendships in the dugouts they share now.

Great Falls, Gophers and Friendships…

Last week one of my softball coaches tagged me in a post celebrating our “Friend-iversary” of being connected on Facebook.

As we drove to Great Falls last weekend to play in the Electric City Heat Classic I kept thinking about that post. It may seem so silly to most, to me I was feeling so grateful for the fact that he took the time to celebrate our social media connection but most importantly that someone who was there in my early years of life still plays a part in my world today, he’s a special man and so is his family… I hope that our little mighty team of Emerald’s have the same experience in the time they spend on the fields with the coaches who they get to play with.

Last weekend, we took our 10U team to Great Falls without our fearless leader. Coach Beau stayed behind to be with family and friends to celebrate his God Daughters wedding. He had a tribe to rally in his absence, but I know sending his team of girls off without him was hard.

Starting off Saturday morning against the Billings Bombers, this mighty little team pulled ahead in the first inning by 7 runs and ended up winning out of the box 13-3. They would go on to win the next game against the Great Falls Select team and losing the 3rd game of the day to Cody’s Pride out of Wyoming.

Shaking off the loss to Cody, the girls headed to the pool for pizza & giggles. They spent some time together just being girls and bonding, it was the eve of Mackenzie’s double digit birthday and Saturday’s performance seeded the girls #3 into the Gold Bracket for Sunday play.

Sunday morning’s game was tough, the Great Falls team we faced came away with the win but it wasn’t without a lot of try and heart from our girls.

What I love the most about this team is their resilience… they are gamers and they seem to rally and shake things off faster than most. It’s a really special combination, and I feel like its one of the things I love about watching them play together.

Shoutouts to EVERY girl in the batters box last weekend. Madison brought in a double Saturday to seal a win, Ellie dropping a beautiful hit to the outfield to start off our game Sunday, Addison digging in and hitting away, girl you’ve got big things ahead! Taylor, Nakia, Kiera, Olivia, Kyleigh, Charolette and Mackenzie were hungry for the right ball and batted with heart. Seriously, I was SO SO SO proud of them… and I know everyone cheering from the sidelines were too!

Jaidyn in the circle. She lead the team and battled like a rock star, I love her determination the most… when she smiles she is most dangerous, I don’t think her batters know that that smile means business. We should keep it a secret…

Rylee took at hard hit to her wrist playing 2nd base, she powered through by standing in the box to bat for her team and I know it took a lot of courage to do it. We were happiest to know she didn’t break anything during the play.

Electric City Tournament

These girls have GRIT. It’s hard to explain until you watch them come together and play. They have fun together, they compliment each other and like I said about Jaidyn, when they smile together they are unstoppable.

Special thanks to Coach Dan for taking the lead in Beau’s absence. You did an amazing job with the girls and I am so very glad we had you to take charge. It was fun to watch you work with them and see your passion, I will never let Mack forget the “dance” on 2nd base when she should have been running to 3rd. It wasn’t funny at the time, but we will have that to laugh about for years to come! To Mike, Doc & Matt, thank you for helping Dan, it is fun to watch how each of you worked so differently with the girls. It takes a village and I really think we have a good one.

To the parent’s, families (Siblings and Aunties included!!!) who were up at 5:30 am to get to the fields and cheer the girls on you are the special part in helping make the best memories for our team. I still feel so very lucky to be part of such a good group of people and giving our girls this opportunity to play together.

The funniest thing about the weekend was the Gophers. Yes, Gophers. You haven’t played ball until you have been told that if a ball lands in a gopher hole do not touch it, it’s a dead ball. I thought they were joking until the gophers were looking for their homes Sunday am and running for their lives while we were doing our pre-game warm-ups.

As we head off to our next tournament I’m so excited to watch them play. I love watching our team of mighty girls grow, and am grateful for the people who are making an impact on their lives each and every inning from the friendships being made in the dugout to the coaches I hope they have a lifetime of friendship made this summer.

Saturday’s are for Softball… Sunday’s too!

Softball. I love the game, growing up playing, I know gained more than just the love of the sport along the way. Some of my very best friends are girls I shared a dugout with or played against more than 35 years ago.

Both our girls have played, Mady enjoyed a year with the Bruisers (loved that season & team of girls!) but horses are her first true love. She has now officially taken on the role of “Most Supportive Sister” to Mackenzie (aka Big Mack or Mack Attack, depending on who you ask) who is all about softball. 

Big Mack made the Kalispell Emeralds 10U Travel Softball Team and we kicked off our first summer tournament this past weekend at the Zootown Fastpitch Softball Classic. 

Saturday was tough, the girls lost all 3 games they played but learned a lot. It was their first time playing together as a team, and knew going in they would need to take each play, each inning & learn how to work together & give their best. The most important thing about Saturday was the hard fought battles did not take the spirit out of our girls, they truly grew together.

Sunday’s first game had us paired up against a team out of Spokane, and our girls showed up with all heart. They rallied to win the game! 

First Win as a team!

We went on to beat Electric City Heat from Great Falls for the Silver Bracket Title. It was a tough battle but the girls rallied to beat them and bring home the win having the fans on their feet. 

Heart. They played with all of heart coming together in a way that I didn’t anticipate.

Shout outs to Jaidyn in the circle. She lead the team pitching her heart out. I loved the way her eyes smiled through her face mask, she was having fun and it made it so fun to watch! Ellie squeezed more pitches behind the plate then I could count, she worked with Jayden pitch after pitch, protecting her turf and working hard for her team. 

Kyleigh and Charlotte for battling through, Charlotte took a ball to the eye and walked away with the best black eye of the weekend. It didn’t stop her from catching a fly ball and making a double play.

Kyleigh had an excellent play Saturday against a Columbia Falls team, with bases loaded, batter hit foul ball to 1st base dugout, Ky caught it, tagged 1st base and then threw to 2nd getting runners out who didn’t tag up. She went on to have a collision at home plate that left her with a fracture to the tibia but she stood in the box to start off our last inning hitting rally to win Sunday. 

Taylor and Rylee had great pop fly catches. I love Taylors job at the plate, that girl is gonna send one for a long ride before this season is over.
Rylee, Addison & Madison for starting the weekend shy in the batters box and swinging away to all have hits in Sunday’s games.  

Kiera truly embraced her fielding position, making key stops and her beautiful hit Sunday sparked the fire that spread throughout the inning & leading the team through the batting order.
 

Nakiah worked so hard in the field and at the plate, she shows up and she is ready to play something you just can’t teach.

Addison is a true joy, she really shows her heart the most, she cares for her team and her sweet spirit is contagious to be around.

As for Big Mack, she did a solid job in the field and was aggressive at the plate. We joked about “no high cheese” until she has two strikes on her.  I have feeling we will see some power hits from her too.

Special thanks to Coach Beau, he took on the role of coach for our girls out of pure love for the sport. What impressed me most this weekend watching him with our girls, was excitement and fire that came out once the game started. When first meeting him, he seemed so quiet and shy, but when the girls hit the field he didn’t stop, he used many moments to teach the girls while encouraging them in such a positive way. And to Assistant Coach Dan, for giving the same positive and encouraging attitude with our girls. I enjoyed how well you and Beau worked together to bring out the best in all of our girls, and I know I’m not alone when I say that I am really looking forward to watching you continue to work with our girls in the coming weeks. 
To all the “fans”, the parents, families and friends who cheered the girls along each step of the way, your love and support made the weekend the best. I think we are all pretty lucky to have such a great group of girls. Mack was lucky to have an extra big group of fans with her Papa & Mina, Aunt Renee & cousin, Tyler, and Uncle Jason, Aunt Holly & cousins, Bo & Bellamy cheering her on. Kalispell’s Emeralds Softball Teams were well represented. 

Winning the Silver Bracket for the weekend wasn’t the sweetest part though… yes, there’s more! The icing on the cake to finish off Sunday was our other 10U Kalispell Emeralds Team won the Gold Bracket, beating out the hometown favorite, Bitterroot Sparks, and making it a sweep for the Kalispell girls. I know that their is a lot of pride in the hearts of many coming home on Sunday!!

Silver Bracket Winners

As for this mighty team of girls, they have three more big tournaments ahead, I’ll keep you posted on their progress in the weeks to come, I know in my heart we will see them continue to flourish. 

#beYOUtiful #campbrandt #bigmack8

Purpose.

Purpose

Noun 1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something existsa person’s sense of resolve or determination

I have thought a lot about this word lately in trying to search for answers to questions no one will ever be able to answer for me. I honestly think it is our human nature to have answers, to know things, so we can fix them or at least understand them and when we don’t it leaves us searching…

Vicki Lynne 1984

The searching that started in September of 1984. The day my sissy rode her bike through our neighborhood to mail a birthday card to my aunt, to the days, weeks and months that followed that we searched desperately to bring her home. The day we laid her to rest. The day that the man responsible for taking her life was sentenced to death. And the weeks, months, years and decades we have been fighting him.

Who would have ever thought we would be here now? In May of 1987, when the sentencing was handed down and the process was started that has lead us to now, I bet, if you asked anyone then, they would never guessed we would still be battling legalities in court now…still waiting for answers, justice for a little girl without a voice.

Purpose. What is the bigger purpose?

Today we were notified that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hold an Oral Argument in our case on June 7th at 9:00 am at the William K. Nakamura Courthouse in Seattle, Washington. The hearing will be in front of a panel of three judges, names who will be released when they take the bench. The hearing is slated for an hour, giving 30 minutes to each side to answer the questions the judges bring to court that day.

This hearing will be streamed live on the courts website, which you will be able to find the link to here under Audio & Video. http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/calendar/

It is unclear how long the panel of judges will take to issue a ruling in this regard, and I feel as though this hearing is not only a win in our case, but it also gives us forward motion again. I remain faithful that the court will find in our favor, issue a ruling that will send our case on to the United States Supreme Court who have ruled in our favor twice previously. Once the US Supreme Court rules in our favor, a Writ of Execution can be issued. The end of the road for this case, justice for my sissy.

We may never know the bigger purpose, but it’s there. And we may never know the answers or why this has traveled the road it has, but the end is coming. And we will never know the lives one little girl impacted, but I know her spirit lives on in the hearts of so many and that gives me faith in the unknown purpose.

What will you write?

Well, it’s time to dust off this ol’ blog of mine and get back to writing. It’s been far to long since I have shared or published anything. Why do we put things aside that fuels our heart? If you know the answer to that question, please please please let me know.

I love this Brad Paisley Quote: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

What will you write? What would you like to achieve, accomplish or change this year? What about in the next 9, 6 or 3 months? What about in the next 30 days?

I woke up with a fire in my heart this morning, and… I did need some fire because it was COLD outside! But, all kidding aside, it is the first day in #operationblackstatus. You will see this Hash Tag a lot from me in the 364 days to follow, including my “WHY” and what this all exactly means.

Today, I just had to start. And “to start” meant writing again, sharing my heart, and documenting the journey of 2017 with all those who will walk it with me. I can honestly say that regardless of what happened yesterday, last year, or the last 10, 20, 30 or 40+ years of my life, it has shaped me to who I am today. And I am proud of the imperfect, gracious, stubborn, driven, giving, passionate and strong person I am.

I believe that this year will be UH-MAZING, I know it holds so many opportunities for us all.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you, but still wonder, what will you write?

All my love,

Steph

The Tree

It’s page 18 of 365 in 2016. One of my favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” How true is that?

It’s been a busy 3 months since the last update to my blog, but really there has been no forward motion from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in our case since September. Frustrating? Yep. I’ve learned that a 30 year old case with a guilty defendant and miles of boxes full of documents just seems to bog down a very broken system with nothing we can do but keep looking to the horizon…

To be honest, I’ve struggled to write this blog for more than a week. I’m not sure why, when it comes to writing or conversation, I’m not usually a loss for words… those who truly know me can insert your comments and laughs here…

Looking back on all that has happened, both wonderful & amazing and heartbreaking & trying, and I feel I’ve really needed to stop and listen more … Who has truly had “ahhhh haaa” moments? I’ve had quite a few lately…

Vicki Lynne's Tree planted at Homer Davis Elementary School Arbor Day, 1985

Vicki Lynne’s Tree planted at Homer Davis Elementary School Arbor Day, 1985

See in February of 1985, we planted a tree in the courtyard of Homer Davis Elementary School where Vicki & I attended school to bring hope that she would be found alive. When Vicki’s remains were recovered in April of 1985, that tree continued to grow and bloom for 30 years. Last October (2015) it was uprooted and blown over in a storm… it was as if a piece of what we watched grow through our journey was gone and we were absolutely devastated. And, I feel we started to mourn again.

Our initial reaction was to replant a tree to replace it… and in time we realized we could never do that, it would never be the same. Honestly, I know with all my heart Vicki blew the tree over for a reason, and we may not be able to understand it right now, but in time, we will.

We were able to recover a substantial amount of the wood from the fallen tree and have plans as a family to have something made with it and rededicate it to Homer Davis at a later date. We will take the fallen pieces and make them beautiful again… just as we have done with our lives.

I want to make a very public thank you on behalf of myself and my family to Flowing Wells School District. From Dr. Baker, Mr. Miller, Governing Board, and the entire staff with a big SHOUT OUT to the Grounds Crew, each and every person has been so protective, caring and sensitive to us as we have moved through this process. The love that continues to shine in our community is extraordinary and comforting.

I will continue to keep my blog updated as we begin forward motion in the appellate part of this story, and as each day of 2016 unfolds, we will continue to look ahead and embrace our past as it is the seeds that continue to grow our future.

#dontforgetvickilynne #loveneverforgets