Justice for Vicki Lynne – Part 2

Vicki Lynne, 4

Vicki Lynne, 4

Today was the second day in the Evidentiary Hearing in U.S. District Court before the Honorable John Coughenour.  The purpose of today’s testimony was for the defense to show that the attorney’s that represented Frank Atwood during his trial, sentencing and initial appellate phases of this case were all ineffective. The defense has a very difficult job in proving all his counsel was ineffective, as Mr. Bloom and Mrs. Ryan are both extremely respected attorney’s in their field, 1984 to the initial appellate phase of this case and now, these two attorney’s are regarding the best of the best. Both continue to practice law, with impeccable reputations.

The defense called Carla Ryan, counsel to Frank Atwood in the initial appellate phase; John Davis, the Prosecuting Attorney who successfully convicted Atwood of kidnapping and murder of Vicki Lynne in March of 1987; Frank Atwood, the defendant; Debbie Gaynes, Paralegal to Stanton Bloom who was Frank Atwood’s privately retained trial attorney; and finally Stanton Bloom via pre-recorded video deposition. Mr. Bloom was Frank Atwood’s private attorney who represented him from approximately August of 1985 through the sentencing phase of the case.  He is presently out of town with a prior engagement and was unable to attend the proceedings.

What I found most interesting about today’s testimony was that Frank Atwood’s team of attorney’s are attempting  to destroy the reputation of the people who represented Frank Atwood 29 years ago in effort to save him from the death penalty today. Again, there is NO disputing Frank Atwood’s guilt in this case. It has been proven and upheld.  (Please note, that Frank Atwood still maintains his innocence in this crime, however, there is a documented confession from him that was inadmissible in court in 1987. Since we are only focusing on his counsel’s lack of representation and his very disturbing criminal & mental history those are things that are not be discussed right now.)

Frank Atwood took the stand to maintain that he never refused any medical evaluation and that his attorney, Stanton Bloom, did not order any. He also testified to the fact that he wrote Judge Hawkins (presiding judge at the trail and sentencing phase, now deceased) a letter prior to his sentencing but he did not request that the judge seek a medical evaluation or take a further  look into his disturbing past. I realize that that was not necessarily Atwood’s responsibility as a defendant, but everyone was well aware of the fact that he was facing the death penalty, and quite frankly, if he felt that his attorney was not doing an adequate job to save him from the “chair” (method of execution in 1987) one would think he would have exercised his right to disclose that to the judge prior to the sentencing. Only because now it could save him from being executed is he concerned about it.

When Mrs. Gaynes took the stand, she could not remember anything. Pathetic, honestly. She is willing to participate with the defense that Mr. Bloom did not do an effective job, to save a child killing monster based on her defeat in losing the case. She testified to the fact that she saw the conviction as an ‘injustice’… honestly, I about threw up in my mouth.

I was 11 years old when my sister was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a habitual pedophile who is still seen as unfit to live among us even though he has been incarcerated for 29 years. What I remember most vividly as a young girl, was how infuriating Mr. Bloom made me.  I recognize, that as I listened to the people around us talk about the trial preparations one things rings clear in my mind and that was how extremely effective, efficient and thorough he was. Mr. Bloom did everything he could, had access to and beyond, in his representation of Frank Atwood from 1985-1987. That is without a doubt!!!!!

I have tried, on numerous attempts, to make eye contact with Frank Atwood, especially as he sat directly in front of me on the witness stand. He refused only looking to the ground or towards his attorney’s. He is a coward. A child raping,  murdering coward.

We will go back to court tomorrow am to hear the closing arguments in this hearing. They will take place at 10:00am.

When we left this mornings session, my husband and I were walking outside the courthouse when I saw a penny on the ground in front of me. When I picked it up I looked to see it was dated 1976… the year Vicki was born. Thank you Vicki… I needed that gift today!

National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victim’s Candlelight Vigil

Dont Forget Vicki Lynne

On Friday, September 27th at 6:30 pm Arizona Homicide Survivors is having a candlelight vigil to remember those we have lost due to murder. It is a way for us to honor our loved one, and meet other survivors. We are inviting our Arizona family & friends to attend not only in support of Vicki Lynne, but for all those who have lost their life in such a tragic way.  We encourage you to wear your Remember Vicki Lynne T-shirts or a yellow ribbon on her behalf.

The Vigil will take place at Reid Park, ramada #3, east of the rose garden by the big lake.  Candles will be provided by Arizona Homicide Survivors and they will also be displaying memory boards of our loved ones.

Arizona Homicide Survivors has supported our family for the last 29 years. They are a wonderful organization that helps people when they are faced with unspeakable tragedy. I hope that you can help us show our support back to them for all that they have given to us.

Follow them on Facebook or http://www.azhomicidesurvivors.org.


The start of fall, back to school and routines, which I love after a fun Montana summer and this one has been a good one! The days are starting to get shorter, the mornings are cool, crisp and smell like a little bit of heaven. We are harvesting our garden and enjoying the fruits of our labor. The leaves are starting to change, one of the things that I love the most about living here in God’s country.

We will celebrate birthday’s and wedding anniversaries, play softball, enjoy some day trips to explore in our “backyard” and hopefully get some fishing in. Life is really good…

But, as I reflect and enjoy all the amazing things around me, I still have that stinging sadness, as September marks another year that my sister has been gone… It’s hard to explain, because like I said, life is good. It just seems when the calendar turns and September comes my heart feels different, even after 29 years…

There is a lot happening right now, so I recognize that I am feeling a little more sensitive than most years, so today when I received an email from my cousin, Rebecca, I was really touched. She wants to pay tribute to Vicki this month and ask our family and friends to tie yellow ribbons to their car antennas, mailboxes or even wear them as a symbol that ‘we will not forget Vicki Lynne’. When Vicki disappeared, Tucson turned into a sea of yellow ribbons, yellow bumper stickers reading “Don’t forget Vicki Lynne” were on cars at every intersection and occasionally I have people tell me they still see them on cars driving down the road… 29 years later…

So, I invite you to join us in honoring Vicki this September as we mark the 29th anniversary of her death. Tie a yellow ribbon to your car antenna… your mailbox… or wear one. Share with us, stories, memories and make this a time of positive reflection on the little girl who changed our community. Don’t forget Vicki Lynne.

Tree Planting Broadway & Randolph,  Tucson, AZ December 1984

Tree Planting Broadway & Randolph,
Tucson, AZ December 1984




Vicki Lynne Mile Clean Up

It is time for the quarterly clean up of the mile in Memory of Vicki Lynne.

Vicki 1984

Vicki 1984

As you may know, our family has joined with two others to keep three miles of highway clean in north Tucson in memory of our loved ones. We break into groups, if you show up to do Vicki’s mile, you will actually be cleaning up her mile.

The date has been set for 7:00 am on Sunday, June 30th. 

My sister, Carie, has taken over the primary responsibility for the mile in honor of Vicki as our parents are now here in Montana. She has the support and help of our brother, Brian as well. We ask that if you can attend that you meet at Anthony & Crystal Cillittos house at 7:00 am. You can shuttle over to the mile sites from there.

Crystal will go over the rules with you before you start. Remember to bring gloves, a garbage picker upper (if you have one), hat, water etc. Safety vests will be provided. No children under 12 allowed. (State rules…sorry) wear good shoes, no sandals or shorts.*NOTE: It is snake season and likely that we may encounter one on the highway. Please be sure to wear long pants and boots/hiking shoes if possible!

Anthony’s address: 15431 N. Coronado Forest Dr. in Catalina.

The clean up normally takes about 1- 1 1/2 hours depending on the number of people who show up to volunteer.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Our family is so incredibly grateful for those who can help us give back to our community.

Thank you for your continued love and support!!!

Honoring Victim’s Rights

April is National Crime Victim’s Rights Month, it has been honored since 1981.

In September of 1984, when my younger sister, Vicki Lynne, was murdered, Arizona did not have legislation in place to protect us as victim’s of this crime or give us equal rights in the courtroom as we watched the conviction of her murderer take place.

In 1990, after years of hard work by people, including my mom, Debbie Carlson, Arizona  voters passed legislation to implement the Victim’s Bill of Rights, it went into affect in 1991. Today, the Pima County Attorney, Barbara Lawall, and her office still work passionately to keep this legislation in tact, and grow the Victim Witness Program to lead our nation in this movement. It has been a tremendous battle in the years since the changes in these laws have taken place, and such a crucial part of helping victim’s when dealing with heinous crimes.

This past Monday, I took part in a radio interview on the John C. Scott Show (Arizona), with Barbara Lawall to help promote Victim’s Right’s Week and talk about some of the things that happened to us as victim’s prior to the legislative changes that were made in 1991.

02 Stephanie (Hoskinson) Brandt Interview

(Audio Clip from John C. Scott Show, Monday April 15,2013)

During the interview we discussed the hours of depositions that my mom and I were subjected to by the defense counsel and the unfair treatment we had in the courtroom during the sentencing hearing. Two instances in which we, as victims, were treated so unfairly. Today, because of the Victim’s Bill of Rights, this would not happen.

There are many stories to share from our 28 1/2 year journey, many of them start out so inconceivable and end incredibly positive like the legislative changes that were made in 1991.

I hope that we all can take a moment to not only honor Victim’s Rights as a whole, but to also give thanks to those who give so unconditionally in the wake of crime and terror to make a positive impact to those, like ourselves, who are directly affected. There will alway be horrible, terrible people in this world, but the good will always prevail.


Yellow Ribbon in Memory  of Vicki Lynne

Yellow Ribbon in Memory
of Vicki Lynne

Reflecting Back on April 12, 1985…

Re-sharing last years blog about April 12, 1985…

Today marks a significant anniversary in my life. It is a day that is forever etched in my mind, a day to reflect and a day to be thankful for.

On September 17, 1984, my 8 year old sister, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, disappeared from our neighborhood. She had gone on her bike to mail a birthday card to our Aunt Lori for our mom. When she didn’t come home, I road my bike to find her. At that time, being 11, there was no doubt in my mind that she had stopped off at a neighbors or was playing with kids from the neighborhood and had lost track of time. We lived in a community and time when you left the house, played outside & people watched out for each other. Kids didn’t just disappear, and if they did it happened on T.V. and not on your street, let alone to your sister.

Vicki had been gone 6 months, 26 days…. or 207 days total. 

April 12, 1985 was a friday, and I was sitting in Mr. Abrams 6th grade core class. When the door opened and one of the ladies from the office walked in, I knew she was there for me.  Mr. Abrams paused, looking down and then up at me. He squeaked out the the words that I needed to gather my things and go to the office.

I sat in the yellow polyester cushioned chair against the windows that looked down the sidewalk and out into the parking lot. I was 11, and trying to understand the world that I had been thrusted into so many months before. There, in the office of the junior high school, everyone was quiet, and working just as hard at keeping it together as they were trying to act like they were working.

I can not tell you how long I sat in that chair in the window, but I knew when I looked over my left shoulder and saw my parents walking down the sidewalk it’s as if the world stopped.

They had found my sister….

Today, 28 years, 6 months and 26 days later, I can close my eyes and remember that day. The warmth of the Arizona sun through the window in the office, the look first on Mr. Abrams face, then on that of my parents, and the feeling of despair by those who surrounded me.

There are no words to express how incredibly grateful I am for the man who went looking for his dog that day and stumbled upon her remains, for at least we could have closure and lay her to rest.

If I had a penny for every time I thanked him, and those who gave so unconditionally those months we searched for her I would have enough money to buy the world.

Today, I miss Vicki just the same as I have in the 28 1/2 years it has been since she was taken from us. And I appreciate how incredibly blessed I have been in my journey between here and there…

Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Over The Rainbow Memorials

Almost five years ago, an amazing and beautiful friend named Krista entered my world. We have shared a lot in our short journey together, and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. Aside from being one of my very best friends, she is an amazing artist. I was immediately drawn to her work, and knew that being brought together was not a conciendence.

Krista, through her company Over The Rainbow Memorials, makes handcrafted glass memorials to help us honor and remember our loved ones.

I went to Krista and asked her to make me a pendant in memory of Vicki. Typically, she takes ash or hair from your loved one and uses it to create a memorial. I had neither to offer… just two trunks of Vicki’s personal things that mom had kept through the years. When we discussed what was in the trunks, I mentioned that I had the outfit that Vicki came home from the hospital in and her “Brownie” uniform.

Krista immediately had the idea to take snippets of her clothing, two things with so much meaning, and use them to create my memorial.

She made me a pendant with seas of blue that can take me right into Vicki’s eyes. Sparkles of pink, her favorite color, as the snippets of fabric run through the glass. Just holding the pendant in my hands fill my heart with an amazing amount of joy and comfort.

We have asked Krista again to make a few more pieces for loved ones, and when she finished this heart pendant for my sister, Carie, I was amazed again. She not only captured the blues of Vicki’s eyes, but colors that fit Carie’s style so well. I am anxious to see the rest of the memorials as she finishes them.

Krista continues to amaze me with the compassion and love she puts into the memorials she makes for us to remember our loved ones by. It is a gift and talent that is treasured.

You can view Krista’s work on her website at  www.otrmemorials.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OTRMemorials.

A heart for Carie in Memory of Vicki Lynne

A heart for Carie in Memory of Vicki Lynne

Vicki Lynne Mile Clean Up, Court Hearing Update

Just a reminder  SUNDAY, MARCH 17th is the quarterly clean up for the mile in Memory of Vicki Lynne.

I can not say thank you enough to our family and friends in Arizona who help us give back to our community in honor of Vicki.

I originally posted the information on this clean-up on February 28th. If you have any questions regarding this upcoming date, please feel free to contact me.

Last week there was a hearing in U.S. District Court on Atwood’s Motion for Reconsideration based on the Martinez vs. Ryan claim. The Martinez vs. Ryan claim has affected many death penalty cases, including ours. The court took the hearing under advisement and is waiting for a ruling by the United States Supreme Court in another case before it will issue a ruling in this case. It may be mid-summer before we know the outcome.

If the judge rules against Atwood, it will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and onto the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is a link to the article from the Arizona Daily Star on the hearing: http://bit.ly/YfW3pB

As we wait for the final months of this story to unfold, all we can do is pray and wait. I look optimistically forward, and feel so incredibly blessed by the amount of support we continue to receive.

I will keep you posted as soon as we have any new information.

Speck of Evidence

Tonight as I was searching the internet, I came across a show my mom & I did in 1999 for The Medical Detectives, Forensic Files Series. It covers the forensic science that linked Frank Atwood to the murder of Vicki.

It shows the series is currently being aired on TruTV.  I am not sure how long it will be available to view on TruTV or via this website.

http://www.forensicfiles.com/speck-of-evidence.html **This link is no longer available, sorry!**

It is another piece of the puzzle that has spanned the last 29 years and very informative from the scientific perspective.

Still difficult to watch when they show Vicki’s remains but then I think of this moment…


Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Will you share with me?

It is incredibly touching when people take the time to share their stories about Vicki with me. Sometimes it’s just a brief encounter, memories from school, the softball field or family events. She touched the lives of so many in her short 8 years!

And, I will never be able to fully understand the magnitude of how her death impacted so many.

It’s amazing after so many years, her story is still alive and that is very important to me. I am reminded everyday of the gifts that she left behind, those are the very things that keep me going.

I’d like to invite you to share your story with me, whether it be a memory during her life or how her death impacted you. These are part of the gifts that remind me how special she was.

Thanks in advance! Feel free to share right here on the blog OR you can personally email me at ssmbrandt21@gmail.com, I look forward to reading what YOU have to share!!

Vicki & I Ages 2 & 5

Vicki & I
Ages 2 & 5