I have written exhaustively about Paula Cooper, the 15 year old girl who brutally murdered 78 year old Ruth Pelke in Gary, Indiana on May 14, 1985 by stabbing her 33 times with a butcher knife. Paula was sentenced to death in the Electric Chair. Time and world outrage, along with the forgiveness of Bill Pelke, Ruth Pelke’s grandson, resulted in her sentence being commuted to life, which at that time was 60 years with the possibility of parole. After a rough start in prison Paula made parole in 2013. You may read more about this on my web site by clicking here
Paula’s story in part is at the bottom of the page.
Paula committed suicide last week.
Paula left a note. The police are holding it confidential. It is known that Paula really struggled hard to “make it” on the outside. The longing for acceptance as an adult forgiven of horrendous teen crime eluded her. Most people held back on offering the comfort of forgiveness. Paula’s mother, who had attempted to murder Paula and another sibling, would not/could not show any warmth to Paula. Her longing for matriarchal acceptance was never fulfilled. Indy Star columnist John Krull, summed it thusly, “According to her family Paula suffered unrelenting remorse.”
It is my observation and experience that getting over prison is much tougher on the outside than behind the fences. Paula’s longing for her “Mother’s touch” must have hurt constantly, as did the thirsting for recognition as a redeemed woman. Our faith makes much about sins being buried in the depths of the deepest sea, of sin being vaporized by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This works fine with our “little” sins compared to the very “big” sins of people like Paula and her male equivalent, Paul The Apostle. You do recall he held the coats of those who murdered Stephen.
Paula gained a bit of respect and reward for her work ethic, developed in prison, becoming a manger of a major burger joint and then getting a job with a law firm. I say WOW to that. But no amount of WOW compensates for the inner void felt by constant confrontation with the cold shoulder of public rejection.
Both the Pelke and Cooper families are suffering pain due to this latest event. We should covenant with the Lord Jesus to hold them in our prayers.
Like many forgiven sinners, I find a tendency to get on my high horse about terrible people making a decision for Christ, and then I recall the compelling passage by Paul in
1Co 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Copyright © 2015 Larry Lilly
Great IT work by Oral Deckard