A Hand For Hailey

I can barely sit and write this blog, I'm full of so many different emotions, because I am just so overjoyed and proud of a brave little girl, named Hailey.

Hailey first wrote me on October 20, 2009, just a week after the arrest of Dennis Bradford. I was so elated with the news of his arrest that I had been unable to sleep, and it felt like I was in some zombie-like state as I was inundated with phone calls, text messages, and e-mails. I had literally received thousands of e-mails from all over the World, people congratulating me, sending encouraging and supportive messages, and also I had received letters from crime victims, sharing their stories. I had been staying up late every night, unable to sleep, and I took that time to make sure I read every single message, whether it was one word, or 5,000 words, I wanted to read them all. I came across and clicked on Hailey's message, and finished reading it, I couldn't help but sit and stare at the computer screen, with tears streaming down my face, and felt compelled to write her back. I had to know more, and I had to know how I could help this little girl, and let her know how amazing she is for sharing her story.
I won't share the whole message, but I will tell you that at the time she wrote me, Hailey was 15, and living in California, a small-town girl, with big dreams and a big, beautiful smile. As she said to me, in her own words, as she began her message, "I have what seems to look like your average teen girls life, but from my past, it's not." All I could think about was how often this is the case. Everything seemed perfect on the outside, but on the inside, behind closed doors, there were things going on in Hailey's life that I wouldn't wish on anyone...she was living in Hell. Hailey went on to share with me that she was raped most of her childhood (age 3 to 12) by her birth mom's boyfriend (who was already a registered sex offender). Feeling scared and threatened by him, she was too frightened to tell anyone, (as is the case, more often than not, of those preyed on by these sick creeps) and the abuse continued for years. After gathering up the courage to confide in her aunt at age 12 about what had been going on, Hailey was taken out of the home, and then adopted by her aunt and uncle, and the process of convicting this monster began. As she ended her message, she wrote "I heard about your story, and it made me think." "Thank you for helping me and every other girl out there...you saved us."

I had the chills. I wrote Hailey back and we began to communicate, back and forth. She has grown so much over the last six months, and has really opened up and shared many private details with me about her horrible experiences, which are ones I wouldn't wish on anyone. Just last week, her attacker was sentenced to 14 more years in prison by a judge, because after being released from jail on other charges, he was required by a judge to wear a mandatory GPS tracking device, and began to stalk Hailey, calling her, driving by her new home and school, telling her he knew where her bedroom was, and that he watched her run track at school. Hailey USED HER VOICE and told the police he had been calling her, and told them what he had said. After pulling the records from his GPS tracking device, it was shown he had infact been within 500 ft of her home and school.

Hailey, I hope you know that you are truly an inspiration to me, and I am so proud of you and honored to know you. I know you have had an extremely hard time dealing with the attacks and unfortunate memories of your past, but you are safe now and have amazing strength and courage and will make it through. You have impacted my life, forever. As I always tell you, no one can tell you how to feel, or make you be silent. You have a right to USE YOUR VOICE and speak out, and the chance to help so many others along the way. You deserve nothing but the best in life, and just know that I am thinking about you and praying for you, as I know in just short of two weeks, you will have another difficult day in court, as you get to read your Victim Impact Statement. Stay strong, little Hailey, lift up your voice, and don't be afraid to say all that you've been feeling. Thank YOU, Hailey, for writing me and reminding me of why I continue to share my story, and Thank YOU for helping every other child out there....YOU have SAVED lives by Using Your Voice!

It is now my mission to try and change the laws in Texas to have all repeat and high-risk repeat sex offenders wear a mandatory GPS tracking device ankle bracelet, upon release from jail. I know this will take alot of time and effort, but I am willing to fight to protect the children in our state. In my opinion, sex offenders already get light sentences to begin with, and we need to make their lives hell just as much as they make ours. I believe these GPS tracking devices will prevent further victimization, and the fact that they record whereabouts of the individual helps in court with convicting them of being in areas they are not allowed to be. Stayed tuned. Petition in progress!


Crime Victims' Rights Week 2010 brought me the honor of meeting families of crime victims by sharing my story during two seperate ceremonies this week. Last Sunday, I was invited to speak during the Texas City Crime Victims Candlelight Vigil & Bench Dedication Ceremony. There was a great turn-out of families who came to honor their loved ones, eventhough the weather wasn't necessarily on our side that day. It started to rain, so the ceremony got moved inside the police department. I don't know why, but I was fine until I was called up to the podium to give my speech..and then completely broke down. I didn't want to cry, but I was just overwhelmed, I think. Jonathan came up to comfort me, and that was good, because from then on, I was able to compose myself and complete my speech. During open mic, families shared their stories with the crowd, and it just saddened me to hear them talk about the senseless murders of their loved ones. There were many tears in that lobby that day, but also an overwhelming sense of unity. Once the weather cleared, we all (about a group of 100) moved outside and each got a balloon, which we wrote whatever we wanted on, and released. It was an amazing sight! The pastor lead us in a prayer as we stood with our candles lit, and then there was the bench dedication. I'm so thankful that I was able to spread my message of "Use Your Voice!" to this group, and hope I may have inspired those who still, after all of these years do not have suspects brought to justice..to never give up. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends who were able to make it out and show support! I love and thank all of you from the bottom of my heart!
Click this link to watch portions of the ceremony: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrnSrMT8I5w&feature=player_embedded

On Tuesday, I attended and spoke at a Brick Dedication Ceremony at Dickinson PD, and I did much better giving my speech there, and didn't even cry this time. I also got a standing ovation, which was very unexpected and nice! I couldn't help but think of how just 6 months ago, I stood at the very same podium, in the very same room, giving a statement just hours after Dennis Bradford was arrested in Arkansas. These past six months have really flown by, and it's just amazing to me all that has happened within that short period of time. At the ceremony in Dickinson, I met a little girl who is 9 years old, and at the age of 2, both of her parents were murdered. She is being raised by her grandmother, and was crying during the ceremony as her grandmother spoke up and told the story. It was very emotional, as they still have not caught who murdered this little girl's parents. It was heart-wrenching, to say the least. Afterward, I talked with her, and she drew me this picture: This is the reason I continue to share my story. If I could, I would bring her mom and dad back...but that isn't something I'm capable of, so at the very least, I was able to use my voice in sharing my story and showing support.. comforting her and giving her and her grandmother hope that day. As we congregated outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather, with our lit candle roses, Chief Morales unveiled a brick on the walkway of the police department, dedicated to Crime Victims.

Saturday morning, Jonathan and I got up early and headed to Galveston Island for the Crime Victims' Rights 5K Walk/Run along the Seawall. We were both excited to participate, as neither of us had ever done anything like this before, and now look forward to participating every year! Over 200 people showed up for this event, and God is so good. The weather was supposed to be awful, with over a 60% chance of rain...and honestly, we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for the run! It was 84 degrees, full of sunshine, mixed with a cool breeze, and we finished our walk in about 45 minutes. This was HUGE for me since I do not like to sweat, and I don't even walk to my own mailbox, lol. I ran into many supporters along the Galveston Seawall who were wearing their "Use Your Voice!" t-shirts, and I was just elated to see everyone out there and see so many familiar faces!! At my half-way point, there was an especially familiar face giving out water :) Thanks, Cromie - for all that you do to support crime victims!

April 13th marked the six-month Captureversary of the arrest of Dennis Bradford in my case, and it was definitely a day to celebrate! Jonathan and I spent the day up in Austin, because my friends at AMW were there filming for another case and invited us up to visit! "The Yogurt Shop Murders" is an awful cold-case out of Austin in which four teenage girls were murdered inside the "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" yogurt shop back in 1991. I was honored to have the chance to have met the families of the girls, and also meet with John Walsh for a second time, and see all of the wonderful people on the AMW crew. My thanks AMW & John Walsh, for yet another day to remember! I believe that America's Most Wanted will capture those responsible for the deaths of those 4 beautiful, young girls.

National Crime Victims Rights Week is coming up, April 18-24th. The theme this year is "Fairness. Dignity. Respect." I couldn't think of a better theme, and I'm proud that I'll be speaking at two events during National Crime Victims Rights Week. I'm Using My Voice, what I am set out and destined to do, and ecstatic about it. I hope that I can make a difference and give victims and families hope and inspire them to never give up. Here's to conquering CRIME, one VOICE at a time...

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