September 17… 30 years later

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Vicki Lynne 1984

Vicki Lynne 1984

September 16, 1984, we were an average American family, normal as far as I knew. My parents had divorced, both had remarried making my family larger. Vicki & I lived with our mom who had married George (dad), he brought his daughter, Carie, from his first marriage into our lives, together they had my brother, Brian. My dad (Ron) married Tammy, who was pregnant and expected to deliver my brother, Larry, in October of 1984.

As kids, we spent many of our Saturday nights going to the race track to cheer on our Papas, and our weeks playing softball, a sport we both loved! We enjoyed trips to the lake, playing in our neighborhood with friends and going to school.

Sunday, September 16, our mom, dad, Vicki, Brian I were out looking at campers we were going to purchase for our family. I remember being pretty excited about one we had looked at! I was sure my parents would go back and buy it!!! Funny, how some of the happiest moments can be replayed in our minds…

Monday, September 17, was a normal school day. Vicki & I got up, and she went on to Homer Davis Elementary where she was in the 3rd grade. I had just entered the 6th grade at Flowing Wells Junior High, both schools were just a few blocks from our home. Little did I know that that morning when we parted ways to school that it would be the last time I would ever see my sister alive or that the events of that afternoon would still be such vivid memories in my mind today. 

I had joined the Cross Country Team at FWJH, we generally had practice daily after school. But during my last period of the day I was informed that practice had been cancelled. 

I can still close my eyes and see the girls locker room of FWJH. There was a big glass window in the office that looked into the locker room, it was where I used the phone to call my mom to tell her cross country practice had been cancelled and I would be coming straight home after school but the line was busy. No call waiting, no call waiting caller id. It was 1984. 

I headed home after school with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.

I still remember the look of surprise on my mom’s face when it was me walking through the front door… Mom told me she had let Vicki ride her bike to the mailbox a few blocks away to mail my aunt’s birthday card. My mom never let us go out alone, but was growing concerned because Vicki should have been back by now. I could ride my bike and find her, she probably stopped by to see her best friend, Jen.

And the innocent sense of freedom I felt riding my bike for the first time alone, knowing Vicki would be in BIG trouble for stopping off at Jen’s house (her best friend) and losing track of time, when she got home…

And how puzzled I was when she wasn’t at Jen’s…

And the sense of panic I felt the moment I found Vicki’s bike in the middle of the road, she was no where to be found…

And the faces of my friends as I road my bike frantically through our quiet little neighborhood calling for Vicki, them asking me what was wrong??? 

And my mom’s utter distress when I came back home without her…

It was 1984… and when I learned pure evil exists. 

I have struggled these last weeks, searching for the words to properly convey the emotions that this day brings but I have honestly come up short… 

And as much as I wanted to post a blog filled with loving memories about Vicki on the 30th anniversary of her death, I can’t. 

I can’t because there has been no justice in our failed system. The monster that took Vicki’s innocent life that September day still sits on Death Row in Florence, AZ. 

Because we are NOT battling whether or not Frank Atwood is guilty of the kidnapping, sexual assault or brutal murder of my sister, but whether or not his counsel was “ineffective” at the time of his trial and if he actually suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time he murdered my sister. 

And we are still waiting to see if his defense team will actually file an opening brief by November 21, 2014 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or file yet another extension that could possibly be granted by the court. 

Because I have to explain to my children the evils of the world; not because they exist, but because it happened to my life and still continues to happen, 30 years later. 

And because 10,957 days is a really, really, really long time for a family to not have closure and be able to move on…

So, today, I will do my best to to smile through the tears, and continue to fight for justice for my sissy…

Comments

  1. Bert Hoselton says:

    I lived in Tucson at that time, I was a junior at Amphi high school then. My dad raced with your grand father Carl. My Ex wife Charley was a friend if yours back then. I remember it like it was yesterday. So many things changed that day for all of us as kids. We all used to ride our bikes through the neighborhood or go to the Tucson mall for the day, but that all stopped on that day, Our parents wouldn’t let us out of their sites after that. We never thought anything like that would happen to us or anyone we knew. It was a terrible tragedy! That son of bitch needs to pay for what he did to Vicky! God bless your family & prayers for your healing

    • Bert,
      What a small world!!!! Funny how our lives intertwined!
      Life as we knew it changed, there is no doubt, and it is so amazing to hear from so many how they were affected and remember this time. The son of a bitch will pay for what he did to Vicki… I can promise you that.
      God Bless to you and your family!
      Steph

  2. Ellie Schwarz says:

    Gerald told me about this a few years ago. My heart goes out to you and your family. I will pay again for Vicki and continue to do so until we find out if this monster files papers. GOD is so good that I don’t think this man will get out for any reason.

    God bless you and your family. I can’t imagine how I soul live thru this terrible tragedy.

    God be with you and give you comfort.
    God

    ELLIE SCHWARZ

    • Ellie,
      GOD is good and we will have justice for Vicki!
      Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support… they are all so appreciated!
      God Bless,
      Steph

  3. Julie Cardwell says:

    I remember the day Vicki went missing and the trial . I am so sorry you did not grow up with her at your side. There has really been no justice served and there needs to be. That predatory monster needs to be executed as per his sentence. 30 years is too long.
    Vicki Lynn Hoskinson is remembered by many. Her story brought awareness to the very real dangers that lurk just outside our door. That is her story but her legacy is a family who continues to fight for change and for justice for a little girl who could have been anything and who’s memory means everything.

    • Julie,
      Thank you so much for helping us keep Vicki’s memory alive…We will make sure that justice is served for Vicki and your support helps us in our fight!! Our family so appreciates your love and support to a little girl you never knew but will always remember!
      All my love,
      Steph

  4. I hope you get the justice your sister deserves. I have no words that could possibly make any emotion or emotions that you have better or gone but I can pray that your whole family can get your sissy justice and are able to move forward and think nothing but some of the happy memories you all shared with your sister in her short life. Instead of still trying to get the justice deserved!
    prayers for you all

    • Olivia…
      Your prayers are so appreciated… we are blessed everyday by all the memories Vicki left us with…
      Much love,
      Stephanie

  5. I still remember that day – can hardly believe it has been 30 yrs. ago. As one of Vicki’s teachers, I still remember a vivacious, sweet girl who always had a smile! Your and your family are in my thoughts and prayers! Give your Mom a hug for me!!

    • Jan…
      I still see your big beautiful smile and so appreciate the kind loving memories you share about Vicki as one of her teachers…We love you! And I promise to give mom a hug for you!
      All my love,
      Steph

  6. Suzette Gonzalez says:

    I also remember our innocence bring taken when Vikki Lynn went missing. I remember our freedom as we knew it was gone. I lived on the west side of Tucson. We weren’t allowed out of our parents’ eyes. We could chase the foul balls at the park…only our parents could. We all knew about the little girl Vikki Lynn. Although I was only 11 years old and I didn’t know her personally—I have never and will never forget her. Praying for justice.

    • Suzette…
      I continue to be so humbled when people share with me their experience growing up in the time of my sisters murder…
      amazing to hear that it was not just my life that changed that day but the lives of so many and that I wasn’t the only child who was hovered over and held closer…
      There will be justice for Vicki, I can promise you that!
      All my love,
      Stephanie

  7. Donna Warren says:

    I remember that day like it was yesterday, I was rocking my then 3 week old son when a friend called and told me.. I was shocked and I prayed that she would be found alive and every lead we heard about I prayed a little harder then when she was found I sat down and cried,Cried for a little girl I never met, Cried for a child that would never grow up, I cried as a new mother praying I would never feel the pain that you all felt and today as I have continued to follow your sisters story I still pray that some day justice will be yours, I will continue to pray until that comes ! How you have found the strength to carry on is unbelievable, Vicki Lynn has always held a special place in my heart and always will ! God Bless

    • Donna…
      Your heartfelt words are humbling… thank you for always holding Vicki’s story in your heart..
      All my love,
      Stephanie

  8. Sharon Stites says:

    I so vividly remember the fear, sadness and later, while following Atwood’s trial on TV, the rage I felt because so much of the evidence was suppressed, leaving the jury with only part of the story. I was so angry that they had cleaned him up so much that he looked like a respectable citizen during the trial–so different from how he looked in real life. My husband, sometime later, happened to be on an elevator with Atwood’s attorney and said he felt physically sick even looking at someone who tried so hard to get his client found not guilty. Our hearts went out to your whole family during that awful time and ever since, knowing that it still is not really settled. I remember sitting beside your Mom at an event at Children’s Memorial Park (we lost a 16 year old daughter to cancer) and being almost tongue tied knowing her awful loss. Our daughter lived for 2 1/2 years after being diagnosed, so we had the opportunity to say and do things and to say goodbye to her–an opportunity your family never had with your precious little sister. You are all still in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Sharon,
      You are so right in that the jury only knew part of the information during the trial, and I agree that it was utterly disgusting that they didn’t leave Atwood looking like the monster he is. I will be eternally grateful to the panel of jurors that sat through those hours and only heard part of the story to have enough sense to know the truth…
      Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers…
      Much love,
      Stephanie

  9. I have somehow just learned of this monster and the atrocity he committed against this poor innocent 8-year old girl, and how he and his scuzzy lawyers have manipulated the legal justice system for over 30 years now. How can anybody claim this man has a “defense?” I am so sorry for the family’s loss of this sweet child and add you all to my prayer list. I hope that you can find some peace and that this sick ba***ard is executed soon. “Vengeance is mine, sayth the Lord.” He will get his due one day – I don’t care how long it takes the “legal system” to execute him.

    • Cindy… You are so right, he will get his “due” one day… and it won’t matter how long the legal system takes. God Bless!

  10. I’m utterly sickened to my soul on behalf of you and your family for the undeserved theft of Vicki’s life by this grotesque creature. And now to learn he STILL LIVES is an utter OUTRAGE! Not only left to suffer the loss of Vicki, your family has been downtrodden for DECADES by a system which caters to Atwood! All this consideration for HIM; Vicki receives NONE. Deplorable! However, you AREN’T entirely powerless. He’s built this lovely little life and if the state won’t take it in the literal sense, by God you can take it in the figurative one. ANY accomplishments made by him belong to VICKI. Any benefits or advancements belong to VICKI. I suggest you consult an attorney and for starters, file a wrongful death suit against him. Published books has he? Why the hell should he and the wife he loves enjoy the likely money they’ve received when the sister you love was denied the very enjoyment of life? With all due respect I believe you and your family should throw at him even the most menial of civil complaints! Everything he has should be given in recompense for the life he stole. Perhaps for once, HE will know what it is to have his life attacked. Again, my heart positively aches for you and yours. May justice for Vicki be served, and served SOON!

  11. Sue Miller says:

    Stephanie,
    I saw a bumper sticker on a Truck on my work this morning. It was a new bright yellow one saying Remember Vicky Lynn. I Iooked it up to see what was going on now. Its awful that your family is still dealing with Atwood. You went to school with my niece Angie Murphy, I remember taking her to your sisters funeral it was heartbreaking. Angie has 3 boys now and is getting her Nursing degree . I’m sure I speak for her too that our prayers are with you and your family.

    • Thank you for your prayers… I LOVE to hear when people share that they see the yellow bumper stickers, and how your lives are still touching by my sister. Please give my best to Angie and her boys…
      All my love,
      Stephanie

  12. I was 10 in Tucson the year your sister disappeared. My dad worked at the public defender’s office during the trial and years after. Her disappearance changed him & changed us. I am sorry you continue to fight this ordeal with the monster who did this but I wanted you to know your sister is still thought of, as well as your family! Prayers from Houston, TX.

    • Thank you for your prayers, and sharing who one little girl changed you… it is always comforting to know that as we continue to battle, her short life and memory are still held in the hearts of others.
      Hugs from Kalispell, MT!

  13. Bret Linden says:

    This blog entry is one of the most powerful I have ever read. I hate to say that you were articulate enough to make me feel what you were feeling, because that would be unfair to you. So, I will just say that your blog entry moved me very deeply.

    As to blaming lawyers…in fairness, that’s their sworn duty. They’re supposed to do whatever they can do to get their clients off, or delay their fates, whatever. You shouldn’t blame the lawyers. You should blame the judges. They’re the ones who are supposed to be smart enough to know better than to buy in to these ridiculous excused and hair-brained theories. They’re the ones who are supposed to say “Look, this case has already been one huge unnecessary delay. No more continuances, no more delays, no more hearings.”

    • Brett,

      Thank you for sharing … I hope that when I write, I can help people have a look into the horror we have endured for over 30 years, not because I want them to feel our pain, but to help them continue to understand our frustration and despair that we still have to fight for justice for a little girl who had no choice at the hands of a murdering monster.

      I can only blame the man who made a horrible awful decision each time he harmed young children and when he took Vicki’s life. I will forever be amazed at the luck he has had in our very failed justice system. I hope and pray each day that the panel of judges who will decide his fate from this point forward will join us in recognizing the failure and ridiculous length of time this has taken and help us have some closure on this chapter of the story, until then we can not start a new one.

      All my best Bret, Thank you for your continued support!
      Stephanie

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