Monday, March 22, 2010

It would profane her name

The March 20th issue of the Toledo Blade has the story, "Murder victim's mom speaks out against the death penalty":

When a kidnapper cut a slit in the Jaeger family's canvas tent in the middle of the night and stole off with 7-year-old Susie, the girl's mother was thrust into a whirlwind of emotions.

Her initial feelings of fear, frustration, and dread that dark summer night in 1973 in Montana eventually gave way to rage - a feeling that Marietta Jaeger-Lane had always suppressed.

"I had been raised in a home where we were never allowed to show anger. We were told it was a sin. If we wanted God to love us, especially as females, we should never be angry," said Mrs. Jaeger-Lane, who will speak Sunday at St. Rose Catholic Church in Perrysburg. "So I became very adept at repressing my feelings or expressions of anger."

But after two weeks without any sign of Susie, the youngest of her four children, and just one brief, confusing phone call from the kidnapper, her anger was too strong to keep bottled up.

"My rage just came roiling up through all the inhibitions I had placed on it," Mrs. Jaeger-Lane said in an interview this week.
She desperately needed God, but at the same time was afraid her anger was sinful.

"I thought, 'Am I offending God?' Then I felt, 'Phooey, I don't care. This is an innocent, defenseless little girl. I'm her mother. I have every right to be furious.'"

It was then, Mrs. Jaeger-Lane said, that the rage took over.

"I would have been happy to kill the guy with my bare hands and a smile on my face. I just didn't know who he was," she said. "That's a normal, valid human response. But if you stay there, you end up giving the killer another victim. Hatred is not healthy."

Mrs. Jaeger-Lane, a Roman Catholic, said her Christian faith helped her move "from fury to forgiveness."

"I began a major wrestling match with God … and when you wrestle with God, you know who wins," she said with a laugh. "What I came to understand was that killing somebody in Susie's name would profane her name and violate the sweetness and beauty of what she was."

Mrs. Jaeger-Lane, 71, a Detroit-area native now living in Three Forks, Mont., travels around the world, sharing her story and calling for compassion instead of capital punishment.

"I'm only a country bumpkin with a high school education, but I have had opportunities to testify to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and to speak in Japan, Korea, India, Central and South America, and throughout the United States," she said.

"The bottom line is: Do we really honor the victims by taking on the same mindset of resolving our problems that the murderer did?"

Read the rest of the story.

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