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…