April is AmyPosted: April 4, 2008
April 2003. I’d moved away from the Maplewood subdivision and hadn’t thought about Amy’s death for years. But then that first week of April, the memories started coming back and were persistent. So persistent that come April 5, I knew I had to go to the cemetery and leave a flower on her grave. I’d gone to her funeral and remembered the location of her grave. But I couldn’t find it and had to ask for help. The funeral home man looked it up and took me to the grassy hillside, looked around for the marker, shrugged, then shook his head.
“There’s no marker. She’s right here, though.” He pointed to the spot.
A chill went over me. No marker. Nothing to show that someone lay beneath the cold spring grass. Nothing to show a life was lived, a young woman was gone. You couldn’t even tell a grave was there. It was seamless. Amy was lost to the world.
Before I left the graveyard, I placed a yellow tulip on the grass above her head, then went back into the office and asked the exact date of her death.
“Ma’am, she died April 5, 1993. Ten years ago today.”
Oh God. My lips formed the words, but the sound didn’t come out. Amy came back on the tenth anniversary of her death because she wanted someone — me — to know her plight. Her husband got away with murder and left her in an unmarked grave.
April 1993. One night as I slept, Amy died. She drowned in her bathtub one week before Easter when the rest of us were thinking about new white shoes, chocolate bunnies, and marshmallow eggs.
It was an accident, her husband said. This 31-year-old white female was found in the family hot tub…Foul play has not been ruled out, the police report said. Her husband was the prime suspect. Detectives couldn’t prove he did it. Her death was ruled accidental.
I believed he was innocent. After all, he was a church-going man, an editor of religious books, he told me. I was such a fool.
In her casket Amy wore her wedding dress of white satin and lace. Her hands were crossed on her chest, her shiny red fingernails stark against so much white. Her dark chestnut hair looked out of place against a pillow of white satin.
Amy’s widower went on with his life. He took up with the young widow across the street. Ten months later they had a mock wedding. President Clinton spoke of them once when he addressed the nation, how the husband at 17 had placed an ad in worldwide newspapers, beginning a search for a life-long mate, how he eventually got discouraged and gave up. Then miraculously, he found the woman of his dreams.
Two years later the woman of his dreams went missing. I saw the story on the 5 o’clock news, her picture plastered across the screen. Her body was found eleven months later buried in their backyard, entombed in concrete under landscaping stones and timbers. She had been strangled with hands.
The husband was tried for murder, given a life sentence for this act. Amy’s case was re-opened.
The husband made a surprise appearance in Circuit Court and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He pleaded “guilty in best interest,” not an admission of guilt. The plea kept him from getting the death penalty.
He never said he did it. Amy never got her day in court. Justice was not served in her behalf.
April 2004. I went to the courthouse, pulled the records, spent a week reading through them all. Seven months later, the husband called a reporter from Channel 4 News and confessed to Amy’s murder.
It turns out that in less than a decade, four people with ties to the husband had died.
April 2005. I visited Amy’s grave and saw that someone had placed a marker there. Two years earlier, I had contacted old family friends I’d located on the internet and wondered if they were responsible.
Amy finally got her due.
April 2008. It is now 15 years since that night in the Maplewood subdivision when Amy was murdered.