Slain girl's family to gather for graveside prayers during execution
Jennifer Wilson was only 9 when she was killed by Richard Bible at the start of her summer vacation in Flagstaff in 1988. On Thursday, 23 years later, members of her extended family will gather at her graveside for a service led by Monsignor Richard O'Keeffe as Bible is executed in Florence for Jennifer's murder.
Jennifer's parents, Richard and Nancy Wilson, and three siblings will not be at the service. Instead, her parents, who now live in Palm Springs, Calif., will be in Phoenix awaiting the execution, while extended family and friends will gather in Yuma for prayers.
“That's all we can do,” explained Susan Wilson, who is married to Terry Wilson, Richard Wilson's brother. “Since we can't be there (in Phoenix), the best thing for us is to go out to her graveside.”
Susan believes the execution of Bible, 49, will bring the family long-awaited “closure” for an “evil act.”
“It's justice. It's sad it happened. It's not an easy feeling for any of us. We are just thinking about Jennifer. I wish it had never happened. We never got to see her graduation and the life things that should have been. It's very sad.”
Although the execution will bring closure, “we will never forget Jennifer,” Susan said.
“The pain is still there. The pain of Richard and Nancy losing their daughter will always be there. We have to just go on.
“Jennifer suffered and that's not right. The pain is there, but it's going to be over.”
However, Susan wished the process of bringing Bible to justice had been quicker. Bible has been on death row since 1990.
“After 23 years, I wish our justice system wasn't so long. It's hard on the family,” she said. “Richard and Nancy and their three kids have suffered. Our prayers are with them. Terry and I are just holding on tight.”
Susan also expressed appreciation for the community's support.
“Our family appreciates the concern and prayers for Richard and Nancy and their family.”
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 539-6856.