Today has been one of the most difficult days of my life. For almost twenty years, I knew Dennis Bradford was out there, somewhere. In my heart, I knew in due time, I'd find him. People would often tell me after all of these years, my attacker would probably be dead, or that I would never know who had attacked me...I could, at times, even see the doubt in others faces when I'd say I would find him one day. But, I kept on. I knew he was alive, and I knew I'd one day find and face the man that so cold-heartedly attempted to murder me. I made it my goal to find him no matter what obstacles came my way. I've had good days, and I've had bad..but this day is by far the WORST. I've said from the very beginning that I've never had an angry heart about what happened to me as a child. Obviously, a person capable of thinking up a plan and going through with it... such as taking an innocent 8 year old from her bed, raping her, and then cutting her throat and leaving her to die... is sick in the head. Even though my heart was never angry with Bradford, I did always want him to be punished for his actions in the court room, and taken off of the streets so that he could not ever hurt an innocent child again. After him being captured last October, I wanted him to spend every single day of the rest of his life in a jail cell, thinking about what he had done to me. But, today...he took his own life in that cell. Knowing I will never be face to face with Bradford in a court of law, reading aloud my victim impact statement, that I've spent months writing, countless late nights perfecting for my moment in court.. is extremely hard for me to forgive and accept. I have beenleft feeling as though I've been cheated out of an opportunity for ultimate closure. Please try to understand that I have worked so hard for almost 20 years for the moment of facing him and showing him what I've become, and letting him know how what he did to me affected my life, and I'm heartbroken and disappointed that my opportunity to do so has crumbled right before my eyes, and will never come.
On a happier note, I couldn't be more grateful for Tim Cromie of Dickinson Police Dept., and Special Agent Richard Rennison with the FBI for all of their hard work and dedication. Both of those men looked me in the eyes two years ago and promised they would catch my attacker and never give up, no matter how long it took...and they followed through on their promise to me. I am forever indebted to these two men, and couldn't have asked for a more diligent, hard working team to put their ALL into my case. I am working hard to keep positive thoughts, and keep reminding myself of how far I've come in my journey..eventhough I didn't get the full justice or outcome I wanted. Ultimately, I am able to rejoice in knowing I've potentially saved the lives of children and encouraged many to speak out, which does give me an overwhelming sense of comfort.
I made a promise to myself years ago that I would never quit using my voice to speak out, and never stop encouraging others to use their voices to tell their stories...no matter the outcome. With that said, I WILL continue on, doing what I've been doing, and hope that I can continue to show others the strength they may gain from sharing their own stories. I know there have been many of you that have prayed for me over the years and I ask that you please continue to do so, as I take some time to try and make sense of and accept what happened yesterday and then continue on my journey in life. No amount of words could ever express how thankful I am for each and every supporter, card, flowers, e-mail, text message, or phone call I've received. Knowing there are so many that care about my well being is an unexplainable feeling...thank you.