My name is Zach. Kari was like a sister to me, though by blood she is my cousin and by law she is my aunt. I grew up with her always around and she lived with us for a couple years. She was 19 when she was murdered. I was 16. I will not forget her laughter or her wisdom.
Kari Ann was born a fatherless child, never even knowing who her biological father was. The soul of the "fatherless child" is protected by our creator:
-"He (Creator) executes justice for the fatherless and the widow." - Deut. 10:18
"You (Creator) are helper of the fatherless." - Psalms 19:14
"Creator is father to the fatherless..." - Psalms 68:5
"Creator watches over the fatherless..." - Psalms 146:9
"Do no wrong to the fatherless..." - Jeremiah 22:3
"Do not hurt the fatherless..." - Zechariah 7:10
"True devotion to Creator is to look after orphans..." - James 1:27
"Bring justice to the fatherless." - Isaiah 1:17
Just after birth, Kari Ann's biological mother gave her to be adopted by her mother, Nancy and her new husband, Wes. Kari's biological mom, Jamie, (my aunt), says she was duped into giving her up. It is hard to tell. I never heard of Jamie trying to be in Kari's life.
Grandma Nancy was hit and killed by a train when Kari Ann was 6.
People, like Kari's sister of sorts, Tammy, and my mom, Sandy and others helped Kari as her adopted father was a bartender with a mean streak, and was not always able to be there for Kari. I always assumed he loved her very much.
Kari came to live with us for a couple years when she was about 12. We became very close. We were close before that and I always adored her. In third grade I published a book at Arizona State University. I dedicated it to "My Aunt Kari Kat".
She had a deep and hearty and sometimes mischievous laugh. She was so smart and talented. She also had a mean streak, but only when pushed, which I liked to do. Once she took Wes's rifle and trained it on me as I ran across the yard yelling for her to stop. To be fair, I had a very awnry streak myself. We had a lot of history of fighting and being best friends, back and forth. Ultimately I respected her and she was a rock to me. I could always count on her wisdom.
I miss her terribly. Life would be so much different with her alive.
When she was 17? she met Eddy. According to letters, she was in love and they eventually had a simple wedding. He was a few years older. Soon baby Ashley came along. She was adorable. She would come visit us for a few days at a time to give her mom a break. Sometimes me and my brother would go stay with Kari for a few days to give my mom a break during summers. She lived in East Helena, like my dad so I would see her when I saw my dad too. She was a big part of our lives.
My mom, Sandy, loved Kari desperately and always tried helping and advising her. My mom was the closest thing Kari had to a mom, from the time she was little.
When Eddy and Kari started fighting and separating, my mom tried offering advise and support. Ashley was to come with us for the month of August 1989. On July 28, 1989 Eddy shot and killed my aunt Kari Kat, and then himself.
The aftermath was horrible. Ashley was at Eddy's mother's at the time so she had the upperhand in retaining custody of Ashley, but the fight was hard and bitter and ugly. Our family courts were ice cold, having no consideration for the suffering that the families were enduring as a result of this tragedy. Ultimately custody went to Eddy's mom, who, according to documents, had already raised 3 very unruly and dysfunctional children. Yet somehow the courts figured she would get it right this time.
After the trial, my mom never spoke to Ashley again. I was always the mediator and I saw her on occasion. Now, its been so many years. I speak with her but we don't know each other very well. She is her mom, but she isn't. I am writing all of this for her mostly. I wish I could have been in her life and carried out what her mother wished for her, which is just to be loved and treated right. Ashley would have grown up as my sister if family courts had ruled the other way and also if my mom had handled things differently.. But such savage murder brings out the worst in us.
Below is all the stuff I found in the box with Ashley's name carved into it, made by my mom's husband at the time - Kenny. He was quite a craftsman and made many things for all of us kids.