“And I will stand over your grave until I am sure that you are dead” –Bob Dylan
When I was 9 years old I got braces. I built a go-cart with my dad and named it after my soccer team. I went to bed each night thinking of how to build a better fort, or what I wanted for my next birthday. The days came and then they went. Then, like everyone else, I turned 10. Well, just about everyone else…
Jessica was 9 in February of 2005. Asleep in her home, unsafe in her own bed at 3 a.m. when she awoke to a man who’d snuck in through an unlocked door and whispered in her ear, “Don’t yell or nothing”.
He told her to follow him out of the house. Frightened and 9 she did.
She followed him out the door and only a football field away to a trailer where he lived. Once in his trailer, Jessica did as she was told. She went into his bedroom where she was raped. She was 9, he was 47. This wasn’t his first time, only hers. He went to the kitchen and cooked her a hamburger. She ate what would be her last meal, then she slept, or at least we pretend there was that moment of peace. He was shady on the details, but one thing is certain; first thing the next morning he raped her again.
Now it was time for him to go to work. My guess is it’s hard to juggle raping little children and holding down a full time job but some how he managed. He put Jessica in the closet and asked her to remain there. Raped, terrified and 9 she did.
For those of you that have or have had 9 year olds, you know 5 minutes is a long time for a child. She spent 3 days in that closet. She didn’t get any more food, and while that dark closet in a trailer 100 yards from home must have been a nightmarish hell, I’m sure she felt the other side of that door was far worse.
I wonder if she heard the police come into the trailer while she was there to look around the place. Like a scary movie where everyone yells at the movie screen in unison “LOOK IN THE CLOSET”, the police bumbled around the trailer looking for her. They passed the closet door without a peak, stepped out of that trailer and went to search elsewhere. They’d search the trailer again, but not when it mattered. This wasn’t a movie.
For Jessica, it was dark, she was terrified, hungry, raped and clutching her favorite stuffed purple dolphin she’d grabbed a few nights earlier when the boogey man took her from her bed. She could see a TV through a crack in the door where she watched news reports of the search for her.
After 3 days it was getting too hot for the boogey man. He opened the closet door holding two garbage bags. “Let’s get you home” he told her, as he held open one of the bags in front of her. Out of the frying pan and into the fire she went as she stepped into the first bag still holding her purple dolphin. Darkness again, as he put the other garbage bag over her head then tied the bags togehter in a knot. She thought he was carrying her home. He was carrying her to a hole he’d dug just outside the trailer.
Alone again, dark again, still terrified, still raped, still starving, still alive, still nine and now tied inside two garbage bags and buried in a 2 foot hole outside a trailer 100 yards away from her own God damned bed, Jessica poked 2 fingers through the bags trying and failing to get some air. That’s how it ended for Jessica and her favorite purple dolphin.
A beautiful girl, with a beautiful life, that ended before she was ten. Forever nine and taken by the boogey man as she slept unsafe in her own bed. Jessica Marie Lunsford is the namesake of “Jessica’s Law” now known nationwide thanks to the work of her determined father, Mark Lunsford. There’s really no telling how many lives he’s already saved, but his mission continues.
Wednesday, the boogey man John Couey died in prison from anal cancer. Mark Lunsford learned about the death at about 2 p.m. He said he didn’t have any immediate reaction and was going for a ride on his motorcycle.
Enjoy your ride Mark. Your boogey man is forever dead.