We all have childhood memories that are so indelibly embedded into our minds that it seems they have become part of our DNA. These are the events that mold us into who we become. I have a handful of such memories, one of which I am sure accounts for my passion for helping victims of violent crimes. It begins with me as a 6 year old, standing in front of a west Texas church building watching my father, who was a minister, and a couple of other men, work. As I recall, they were adding onto the structure while I supervised. The mood was upbeat but grew dark very quickly as word of our tragedy arrived without warning.
On Sept 10,1964 my mothers cousin was a 20 year old divorced mother of two small boys. Carolyn was attending night school in order to better equip herself to provide for the needs of her little family. As she had done many times before, Carolyn left her two sons, 2 ½ year old Richard (called Dicky by his family) and 1 year old David, in the loving care of her mother while she attended class. On this evening she retrieved her children, told her mother that she loved her and went out into the night to pack the boys into her car for the short trip home.
But this night, as she was placing her sons into the car, she felt the tip of a knife as it was pressed into her side and a voice that ordered her to get in the car, with the promise that no one would get hurt if she did as she was told. She was assured by the male that he was only interested in stealing her car. Not seeing any other options, she complied.
Her captor, a 16 year old neighborhood thug named Charles Roy Heffley, Jr, drove them to a secluded spot on the banks of the Trinity River. Stopping the car he ordered her to get out. She agreed to obey as long as he promised to leave her boys alone. He told her that he had no intention of hurting her children and as she got out of the car he struck her on the head with a lead pipe, knocking her to the ground.
While she lay barely conscious and bleeding he assaulted her. At some point he tired of hearing the children cry so he took them from the car and tossed them, still crying, into the river. David sunk immediately beneath the water but Dickie landed on the bank and began to cry. The crazed teenager found him and threw him in the river where both children drowned.
Finished murdering her two children, Heffley then returned to Carolyn who was lying unconscious in her own blood. He resumed his vicious assault, stabbing her multiple times in the head, face, chest and abdomen. When he was finished, he left her there to die.
But, he wasn’t done yet. After driving a short distance in the car he had just stolen he began to fear that he might have left her alive so he returned to stab, beat and assault her again. Now, believing her dead, he again drove away.
He was wrong!
During brief moments of lucid thought Carolyn spent the night slowly making her way approximately 200 yards where she lay naked and bleeding within sight of the highway. She was discovered by two farmers near the intersection of Precinct Line and Randol Mill Roads, on the far east side of Ft. Worth. The two men summoned police and Carolyn was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors labored desperately to save her life.
Still believing her babies to be safe in the care of their grandmother, Carolyn gave the police the best information that she was able to provide. Barely holding onto life and being aware that she had lost one of her eyes, she uttered words that were recorded by those nearby. She said simply, “God forgive him”.
Fearful that her recovery would be seriously hindered, the doctors advised that she not be told of the murder of her children. It was not until days later and after many questions that they finally broke the news. She wept. And then according to those present, she repeated her earlier prayer; “God forgive him”.
She wasn’t suggesting that her attacker and murderer of her children not be punished but, as everyone who knows her will attest, bitterness just isn’t in her character.
Carolyn, who now lives in Aubrey with her husband, just celebrated her 71st birthday. Her bubbly personality and positive attitude is contagious. Carolyn has suffered as much as anyone I have ever known, but she is no ones victim.