This page of my website is for publication of reactions and comments. I only publish your statements with your permission and without full name or e-Mail-address!

September 23, 2000

November 10, 2000

December 13, 2000

January 25, 2001

February 16, 2001

February 19, 2001

March 20, 2001

April 13, 2001

June 5, 2001

July 21, 2001

November 27, 2001

June 30, 2002

November 2, 2003

July 8, 2004

January 31, 2008

September 23, 2000

First may I say, I appreciate your compassion on the death penalty. I have always been an advocate of the death penalty, but in the past few years, I've questioned it. Our court system here is very corrupt. You are now guilty till proven innocent. A conviction is often made prematurely because the state is under pressure. Having little evidence or mainly circumstantial the case is brought to trial and all other leads are ignored because "THEY GOT THEIR MAN" the state will say, to release the pressure. If the convicted is poor, they virtually have no chance of getting a good attorney. At this point, he has no chance against the cunning of the state (an expert team of prosecutors). The state has a job to do, 1). solve the crime. 2). make an arrest. 3). prosecute and sentence. / At whatever cost. Although the system does work for some, for others it does not. The Gov. of Illinois has halted all executions till DNA testing has been done on each death row inmate. (Recently, many inmates on death row in the U.S. have been found to be innocent, through DNA testing.) This is the reason for the Governor's decision. He does not want to execute the innocent. Tx. Gov. G.W. Bush said during his presidential campaign that "all death row inmates that were executed in his state, were guilty and he knew this for a fact". I hope he's right!!!!!!

I thought I'd take the time to write and share my views with you. I appreciate the opportunity.

Sincerely, Lisa

September 24, 2000

Hi Lisa,

thank you for your mail and for sharing your thoughts with me! It confirmes the impression we in Europe have about the way the Death Penalty in the US is used. But it's really important to hear this from someone who lives there!

I know George Bush says he is sure Texas killed no innocent people, but I have serious reasons to doubt this. The story of James Beathard in my website is the best example. How can a new trial be denied because of a 30-day-deadline!? That's unbelievable for me.

Greetings from Germany! Gabi

November 10, 2000

I watched the film footage today. To tell you the truth, I supported the death penalty all my life, because that was the way I was raised. When I watched the footage on TV tonight 11/09/00 at 10:00 p.m., it touched me in a way I cannot describe. I feel for you. I feel for Cliff's victims and their relatives. Maybe if he was executed within a short time of the murders, it would be right. That is what I was saying inside of my mind. Then I came to realize, that because someone takes a life does not give the people the right to take their life, because then the people are no different from the murderer. In my heart I feel: Given the amount of time from the murder date and the time of death that Cliff did have time to change, and that by the government/people not taking this into account, they were doing an act of murder themselves. I do not know what you feel about this, but if someone would stand up and put his heart and life into this, they may be able to change it. I know that some prisoners die from the death penalty and they are not guilty and therefore they are murdered by the people of America, and when a man or woman is in prison for years and they have changed in their mind, they are murdered. It is logic that murder is taking place. But then why do the people still want it to take place? I do not know or maybe I do, but to think of it destroys everything I believe in. I don't know what a person is to do during a battle of this matter. I hear people crying out because of it, but no one does anything. I fear that the man who runs that state called Texas is about to become our leader...

God help us all. Larry

November 12, 2000

Dear Larry,

I guess the film you mention is the Frontline documentary "The Execution" about Cliff. I didn't know it was aired again these days. I'd like to thank you for your mail which really moved me, because it shows compassion or sympathy for both sides - and this isn't a matter of course, as many (not all) of the reactions to the film reveal. But some people are more thoughtful than others, and I like that. Obviously you belong to them!

Best wishes and greetings from Germany! Gabi

December 13, 2000

Hi, let me first start by saying I am so very glad I found your web site. I knew James Beathard personally. The girlfriend/fiancé he refers to was my best friend in school. James was a unique person and best described as a true teddy bear at heart, actually resembling a teddy bear with his thick beard. He could talk so far over my head I would have to ask him to explain what he had just said numerous times. I went motorcycle riding with him many times and the irony of listening to "Freebird" sitting behind him with outstretched arms is overwhelming. I would love to correspond with you to find out everything I can that you knew about him.


December 17, 2000

Hi Wendy,

thank you very much for your mail. It moved me to read that you knew James. Unfortunately I do not know so much about James - not much more than I published in my website. He was the best friend of Cliff Boggess whom I saw die in the Death Chamber of Texas. I exchanged only a few letters with James, he wasn't someone who did write very often as far as I know. Maybe a friend of Cliff and James in England can tell you more about him - she's very nice.  ...

A last thing: What moved me most in your mail, was your description of James. The picture of the teddy bear touches my heart. Would you give me permission to publish your mail or the sentences about James in my website? That would be a really good completion to his story, I think.

Greetings from Germany! Gabi

January 25, 2001

Hi Gabi, I've been reading your site with interest and I'm currently writing an article on the death penalty as it currently stands now in Texas, especially with the augeration of George W Bush as president. I am trying to gather people's opinions from the different sides of the spectrum. What are your feelings towards the families of the victims that the two men killed, who believe that execution is the only fit punishment? If you have any other comments, please let me know. Thank you for your time.

January 27, 2001

Hi Karla, I'm glad when I can help you with your article.

Well, my feelings towards the relatives are much sadness, I would say. I feel deeply sorry for the pain they had to endure through the murder of their loved ones. Most likely if I were in their situation I would feel the same: I can imagine the rage I would have towards the offender and maybe I would wish to see him die to satisfy my desire for revenge.

But I learned that it doesn't work that way. I saw the relatives of Cliff Boggess' victims on TV in a documentary half a year after Cliff's execution. I saw the more than 90 years old brother of one victim and this moved me very much. And I saw the granddaughter of the other victim who had witnessed the execution. Months later she seemed to have the same hatred in her heart like before. I doubt that the execution of the murderer really brings the closure and peace the relatives of the victim's long for. Recently I saw on TV how a victim's family was prepared for their execution-witnessing by some officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: They were told to be careful and not to expect to much, not to expect this closure and peace. Obviously in many cases people were disappointed after this experience.

I am sad that there's nothing that can really take away the hurt and grief of the loss of the victim's families - not even Cliff's death. Because Cliff's death couldn't change anything, it wasn't able to bring the victims back. In my eyes his execution only created more hurt and grief. In the end nobody did win from Cliff's death, in the end we all lost a loved one.

Once I saw a report of a mother of a victim who had the courage to visit the murderer of her daughter. It was so moving to see them meet. In the end they both had tears running from their eyes. Sometimes I wished the granddaughter of the one of Cliff's victims would have had that courage to meet Cliff. I know, this would have been something very extraordinary. It probably took enough courage that she contacted Cliff once or twice by writing letters. But maybe she would have seen Cliff in another way if she did. Maybe she would have experienced his changing and his remorse. I am sad that she wasn't able to see Cliff the way he was years after his horrible crimes. Maybe this would have helped her in her grief and pain more than to see Cliff die. But on the other hand I understand: I don't know if I would have that courage to meet the murderer of one of my loved ones face to face.


February 9, 2001

Hi Gabi!

It's Karla Napoleon here, you helped me out with my article on the death penalty a couple of weeks ago. Thanks very much for all the information you gave me, it was great. If you're interested, here's the article.

Best wishes, Karla

February 16, 2001

Hi, I have been doing some research on state prisons, and I came across your homepage and your story about Cliff. I can't imagine the experience of watching someone die before me. I am sure, like any other human being you have mixed emotions about what you've seen. I myself, was touched by this story. I do have some mixed feelings about what he did, but he was young, he was only two years older than myself. I guess my main question is, how did you get involved with people on Death Row and why? I also live in Texas, and we have a prison about 30 miles from here, it's called the Telford Unit, in New Boston, Texas. I haven't ever thought about the criminals thoughts and feelings, and I have to admit, it's sad. I do feel for those that are innocent and in prison, but I do still think they should pay for the crime, but not with Lethal Injection. That is a cruel and horrible way to die. I want to say, your story about Cliff has made me think about the world today. I need to get back to work and finish my research, hope to hear from you.

Thanks, K.

February 22, 2001

Hi K., you asked how and why I did get involved with people on Death Row. Well, that was in fact much more accidental than planned. I have a friend who was writing with Cliff for about three years, when she wanted to visit him. I accompanied my friend on her first trip to Texas, because at that time she was only 18 years old. That was the way I got to know Cliff. After this first visit, where I only was the companion of my friend, I began to write Cliff myself. I never did "plan" this friendship with Cliff - it just happened.

Yes, I think I have mixed emotions thinking back to all the things that happened. Cliff did horrible things, but he did  pay for his crimes in a horrible way, too. And I doubt that his death made our world any better.

Greetings from Germany! Gabi

February 19, 2001

Dear Gabi. My name is Júlio. I am brazilian and History teacher in Brazil. Sorry, because my english is very poor, I will try to write correctly. I am against the death penalty. It's insane!!! I stay very sad when I read stories about the executions. The case of Karla Faye Tucker is very moving. She was executed in 1998, February. The picture of the little bird between the fences is very significant: The body can be arrested and executed, but the soul is free like that bird, like the wind. I confess that I don't understand anything, but for me one thing is very clear: The USA is the most powerful nation of this (poor) world, but the americans don't know the meanings of the words like "Mercy", "Compassion", or "Clemency". I pray for them, I pray for this Mankind so insane, so stupid! Sorry for my words, but they express my feelings about this matter.

Thank you very much. JC. PS: Your site is very interesting !!

February 22, 2001

Dear Júlio,

yes, I know the case of Karla Faye Tucker. Her execution was exactly during the short time I had my friendship with Cliff. I remember well, how I was sitting in front of my TV and watching all the TV news on all channels that day - hoping, but not believing, they would show mercy and grant her a stay. It was a moving time. In every report on TV about Karla they showed the Death Gurney, and I knew Cliff would most likely die on this Gurney too - although at that time I didn't know I would be there to see it with my own eyes.

Yeah, I like that picture with the little bird in the fence. For me it is an impression of hope. I truly believe that one day Texas and the USA will abolish the Death Penalty. The fact that they discuss a moratorium in Texas these days shows that things begin to change - slowly, but they do.

Greetings from Germany, Gabi

March 20, 2001

Dear Gabi, I am an Irish student of law and as a part of my course we were required to do a thesis. Even though mine has gone slightly off the point, I started to read about the death penalty and I found your story about Cliff Boggess very sad. I have an abhorrance to the notion of legalised executions and your story confirmed my fears. The people who go in are not the same people that are executed in such an appalling way. Nobody deserves the conditions that exist on Death Row. Thank you for the effort of posting your experiences on the internet. I was very sorry to hear of your friend's tragic story.

Yours Sincerely, Helen

March 28, 2001

Dear Helen,

thank you very much for your sympathetic words. I agree with you that this indeed is a problem of the Death Penalty: that often people change during these years on Death Row, but Capital Punishment doesn't give them any chance. In Germany our law says that every punishment should include the possibility of rehabilitation. Of course, society has to be protected against criminals and some never should get out of prison again. But even in prison it would be possible to live a life which isn't senseless, when the inmates would have the opportunity to work and to help other people. Death Penalty is a punishment which doesn't give a chance for rehabilitation in any form.

Greetings from Germany and best wishes! Gabi

April 2, 2001

Dear Gabi,

you say that in Germany punishment is always inclusive of the possibility of rehabilitation. That is quite a progressive way of thinking and one that should be considered in the USA. However, my fear is that with the election of George W. Bush as president of the USA the notion of the Death Penalty as an acceptable form of punishment will once again become more widespread. As he has proved from his time as Govenor of Texas he has absolutely no problem with sending people to be executed. He also conveniently forgets that these men and women are treated to sub human conditions while they are on death row. In Ireland the vast majority of people is against the death penalty. It is from this view point that I find it extremely disturbing that there is a man such as Bush in the White House. To have a person who advocates the Death Penalty openly and broadly as president of such a huge country is a worry.

Yours Sincerely, Helen

April 8, 2001

Dear Helen,

yes, in Germany punishment has the possibility of rehabilitation. On the other hand the society of course has to be protected against criminals, who are still a risk after they have completed their sentences. For those in Germany we have a preventive detention. So it is possible that someone has to stay in prison his whole life long, in case it's too dangerous to let him free. But someone who changes during his life in prison, in Germany he gets a new chance. Of course, it's a problem that sometimes the people who decide that someone gets his freedom back, make mistakes. And everytime when in Germany a former criminal again kills someone or rapes a child, a lot of people want to have the Death Penalty back and want to see this perpetrator executed. But I don't think, this is the solution of the problem. In those cases the mistake was the wrong prognosis that caused the criminal to receive his freedom back, NOT the fact that the criminal wasn't strapped onto a Gurney and wasn't killed.

Greetings to Ireland! Gabi

April 13, 2001

I find it such a shame that people actually think that just because he was a "nice guy" or a "quiet neighbor" that they didn't have another side and that they didn't deserve to die. Let someone kill a friend or family member you know and tell me how you feel. Believe me, they never rehabilitate. They need to die.

April 13, 2001

If someone for example would kill my best friend - I am sure I would feel an enormous rage and hate inside. Likely I would wish to see the offender being punished very hard. I never claimed anything else.

But I do not agree with you saying that they never rehabilitate, because I experienced the contrary. Yes, you are right when you say, a murder isn't only a nice guy, but has another side. But just as little he is only a murderer and has nothing but this bad side. It is my honest belief that everybody - you and me, too - do not have only one side in us. I'm convinced that almost everyone would be able to kill someone if the circumstances would be "appropriate". - And I'm convinced that people are able to change.

When you say that murderers deserve to die, this reveals that there is a readiness or at least a support for violence inside you, too. Why should violence and murder be the best way to show that violence and murder is wrong? And when you claim that a murderer needs to die - why? Would it make the world any better? Or is it rather another act of violence which unfortunately isn't able to bring the victims of the murderer back to their loved ones.

Many victims or relatives of victims hope the death of the perpetrator would give them peace and closure - but I have serious doubts it works this way. I've seen too many people who had the same hatred in their hearts after the death of the offender as they had before. Instead of healing anyone, the execution of the offender creates more victims, more hurt and grief - sorry, but that's my experience.

I guess you agree that I publish your mail in my feedback-page - without your name of course - as you didn't tell one.

Greetings from Germany, Gabi

April 14, 2001

Hello Gabi,

I understand your feelings but you also have to look at this. Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and many others. I have a friend whose daughter went to a skating rink and after a couple of hours decided she was going to walk one block to a fast food restaurant to eat. The police found her a week later. She was chopped into little pieces. She was nine years old. So they can be rehabilitated ya think?

April 16, 2001

Yes, you are absolutely right that I and all the other people who oppose the Death Penalty should look at this. I myself try to remind me often, not to think only about the offenders, but about the victims and the crimes too. I read for example the book "Forgiving the Dead Man Walking" by Debbie Morris who writes from the moving point of view of a victim, and I recommend this book to everyone who opposes the Death Penalty, because it is very important to at least try to understand not only one, but both sides.

What happened to the daughter of your friend is absolutely horrible, and I feel sincerely sorry for you and your friend. If I think, the perpetrator of this horrible crime can be rehabilitated? To be honest: I don't know. I said that I don't agree with you, when you say they can't be rehabilitated. But I don't think that everyone can be rehabilitated. It's not possible to say something in general in this point. I'm convinced, some offenders can be rehabilitated and others cannot.

Statistics say that less than 3 % of murderers kill again. And an expert in Germany recently said that one of three offenders of sexual crimes can be rehabilitated. When I said that I believe they can be rehabilitated, I didn't want to say "all of them". But I contradict a statement which says: "they never rehabilitate".

Nevertheless I don't think that it would be the best solution to execute at least those who can't be rehabilitated. It's without any doubt not easy to predict who belongs to which group of offenders. Someone who is executed hasn't any chance to change. I would prefer that they stay in prison (or a home for psychical ill people in those cases, when it's evident that they are ill) - and time will show.

Regards from Germany, Gabi

June 5, 2001

Gabi, seeing Cliff's face again after all this time has caused a wave of uncontrollable sadness to wash over me. I am truly sorry for your loss. Cliff was an example of rehabilitation... his loss is felt by us all. Gabi, I will go back to your site again, and again. It is too much for me to read at one time, I cannot stop the tears.

I honestly believe it will be with the help of the European Communities that the US will abolish the death penalty. You have shown the way justice can be more fair.


June 9, 2001

Dear Nancy, thank you very much for your mail - I was very moved when I read it, because I hadn't any idea you knew Cliff. Do you want to tell me more about that? ...

I appreciate that you visited my website and that you will do it again. Please don't be too sad - I'm sure Cliff doesn't want us to be sad about him. He was such a cheerful character - even in the end.

Regards and best wishes! Gabi

June 10, 2001

Hi Gabi, it always "feels" like I know someone because of the letters that I wrote to stop Cliff's murder. Once in a while I would send him a card, but that is about it. Cliff was so honest and sincere in the documentary he was in, that I was sure he would receive clemency. He had such a wonderful smile... that's what I will always remember.


July 21, 2001

Gabi, I know you don't know me, but I am Clifford Boggess' aunt. His biological mother was my sister. I heard about you & Conny from Clifford when we were corresponding before he was executed. I had travelled to Texas to see him and meet with his attorneys and Catherine Cox, the social worker, about 2 years before he died. My daughter and I spent countless hours doing research here in Alabama trying to help his case. Although the information we uncovered didn't help him, at least we tried. It also gave him some closure on some of the things about his mother that he had always wondered about. After my visit, we corresponded quite a bit. I came to know Clifford then as I wish I could have as a child. What my sister did in giving him up was reprehensible. None of the past can be undone. I tried to help him as I could.

I have had a restless night and couldn't sleep, so I got up and started playing around on the Internet. I decided to look up articles on Clifford. I discovered the website you have. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you for being Clifford's friend. He was a special person, and will always live in my memories. I hope you will email me back. I would like to talk to you in person, but I know that is probably impossible.

I noticed in your article that you stated none of his family was there. I don't know why no one from his adoptive family was there. I didn't go because Clifford specifically asked me not to. He told me that he didn't want me to remember him the way I would see him on that fateful day. I wish I could have done something more to save him from that horrible death.

Again, Gabi, Thank you for being his friend. He loved you and Conny very much, and I know he is watching us from Heaven. Please email me back if you can. I really would like to keep in touch with Clifford's friends.


July 25, 2001

Dear Jennifer,

I was very moved when I read your mail - I never thought my website would cause contact to Cliff's relatives. Thank you for writing me - I appreciate it!

You said that I don't know you - of course, that's right, but I saw you in the Frontline documentary and I remember well the scene when you were talking with Alan Austin there. Although I do not agree with everything Alan Austin said in that film, it was very important for me to see it, because I learned much about Cliff and his family which I didn't have known before.

I knew Cliff only half of a year, and it's sad that we didn't have more time to get to know each other better. But our friendship became very close in a very short time, and Cliff was able to understand me so well. The way my mother treated me as a child plus the consequences for my entire life, was something that Cliff was able to understand very well. ...

When I wrote in my website that none of the family members was there at Cliff's execution, I didn't mean it in a reproachful way, just as an information. But it's good to know that you tried to help Cliff as best as possible.

Of course, we can keep in touch. But I hope it doesn't hurt you too much. It must be hard for you to have lost your sister and your nephew.

My best wishes for you! Gabi

November 27, 2001

Dear Gabi, I have just had tears whilst reading your story of Cliff Boggess. I am very moved. I am in correspondence with a DR prisoner and I am dreading the inevitable. Congratulations on a wonderful site, and thank you. God bless you.


December 1, 2001

Dear Maggie,

thank you very much for visiting my website and for your e-mail. I am feeling with you - I know how hard it is to face the loss or at least the possibility of losing a dear friend. I sincerely hope you will have much strength to cope with it - if the day is to come one day. ...

My best wishes for you and your friend! Regards from Germany, Gabi

June 30, 2002

Cliff repeatly gave us examples that he could not live within the rules of society. He made those choices.Wether his poor upbringing made him unable to fit in the civil world is debatable.He was able to become a good person and find God in spite of his bad childhood, only after taking the lives of several people. I believe that the cost of his salvation was too high.What would you have us do with folks that leave a path of death and sorry behind them before they can find salvation? You say do not judge him? Ok. How would you handle it?


July 11, 2002

Hello Al,

I'm sorry if I caused a wrong impression: I do not say don't judge Cliff. He made terrible choices in his life and he is responsible for what he did. And Cliff himself never used his bad childhood as an excuse for his crimes. Although I can't help to question, if chances wouldn't have been good that he never did those crimes if he hadn't this bad childhood. If so - then society in some way is responsible too, although the main responsibility remains with Cliff.

I do not say don't judge him. What he did was horrible, and he deserved an appropriate punishment. But who gained anything from his death? Even the relatives of the victims seemed to have the same grief and hate in their hearts after Cliff was executed. Plus his death created more hurt and grief for his family and friends.

What are the tasks of punishment? The perpetrator should be prevented from doing a crime again. And he should learn that it was wrong what he did - he should have the chance to change to a person who deeply regrets his mistakes. He should have the chance to make good and to repair. Of course, in case of murder this isn't possible that way, because a killed person can't be brought back to life again. But a dead murderer is of no use for the society. A murderer who is alive and able to work could pay at least what's possible through his work - and that should be used to help victims and their relatives. That's the way I would handle it.

Kind regards from Germany, Gabi

July 11, 2002

As to the statement that a dead murderer does no one any good I can only say this. Many times here in the United States people that have committed murder, that have not been given the death penalty have later been released only to go out and do the same thing over again. The Death Penalty solves that problem. All of us are going to die some day, folks that live until their natural death, folks that are unfortunate enough to meet someone that takes their life, and the people that take other people's lives. In my mind only one of those types of people have lost there right to live in our society.


July 20, 2002

Hello Al,

you say that in the United States many murderers have been released and committed murder again. I see this problem - although I'd like to ask how much is "many". In Europe it is less than 3 % of all released murderers who committ murder again, and I've been told in the US it is about 6 % - means that the majority does NOT continue to take other people's lives.

But don't get me wrong, please! I don't want to condone crimes easily or to play down the problem. Of course, every victim is one too much and the society has the right to be protected. I see the problem that at least some released murderers committ murder again. Yes, maybe the Death Penalty could solve that problem. But it is not the only possibility and - in my humble opinion - not the best. Another possibility is: Just don't release them!

This would solve the problem too - and it wouldn't create new problems as the Death Penalty does, because in case of Capital Punishment one more family suffers from hurt and grief of loosing a loved one - plus the risk to execute an innocent person. An innocent prisoner can be released when there's evidence for his innocence, but an executed man can't be brought back to life in case he was innocent.

I don't want criminals to be released who are a risk for the safety of the society, but I don't want them to be killed either. They should spend their life in prison - and they should work to pay at least a bit of their debt.

Kind regards, Gabi

November 2, 2003

Hi! After reading your truly remarkable account of Cliff, I found myself near tears. I live in the state of Virginia, that has the highest execution rate in the US. If you think Texas is bad, Virginia is worse. It's unfortunate. I don't think people here who support the DP, understand the other side. One prison official (in another state) said it's one thing to support the death penalty. It's another thing to carry it out. Thanks for the great site.


November 4, 2003

Hi Dan,

thank you very much for visiting my website and for your message. I'm glad you liked my account of Cliff and found it so moving. It's good to know that not everyone in the US is in favor with the Death Penalty.

Why do you think Virginia is even worse than Texas? I know that Virginia has a high execution rate too, although as far as I remember it is the not as high as in Texas. Texas leads with 310 executions since 1976, Virginia is between 80 and 100, I think - but it's the second rank in the US!

I think you are right - most of the people who support the Death Penalty do not know much about it. It is the same here in Germany - most of the supporters aren't well informed about the facts around Capital Punishment. Although according to the polls we in Germany do not have as many people who are in favor with it as in the US.

Kind regards from Germany! Gabi

November 28, 2003

Hi Gabi,

although Virginia does not have as many executions as Texas, it has far less people. The following article may help explain why the execution rate in Virginia is so alarming.

The case referred to in the above article, is about the sniper spree that terrorized the Metro DC area where I live. The sniper killed 10 people and wounded 6 others. And people really were scared. Schools kept children indoors. Football games were moved to undisclosed locations out of the area. People were afraid to get gas. And when they did, they moved and ducked to avoid being hit.

It was the tough laws of Virginia that convinced US Attorney General John Ashcroft to have the case tried 1st in VA. Some of the statistics pointed out in the above article are particularly disturbing, including a State Supreme Court that will throw out appeals on technicalities, the toughest restrictions on presenting evidence of innocence in the country (after 21 days only DNA evidence can be presented), and an average of 5 yrs an inmate spends on death row before execution. That's half the national average!

Thanks again, Dan

December 22, 2003

Hello Dan,

thank you for explaining why Virginia is even worse than Texas concerning Capital Punishment. Of course you are right that the number of executions alone is not the point, but its relation to the number of people in the country. I don't know why I didn't think myself of that! :-) Because when I visit school classes and tell them that China does the most executions in the world, I always tell them too, that in relation to their population they aren't leading in the world, but little Singapore is.

Of course I know a bit of the Snipers - it was often in our news too, last year. And so it is now about their trials. Although I am against Death Penalty, I expected it for them, because the USA weren't consequent if they didn't sentence them to death. Too bad, because it doesn't any good for anyone...

All best and kind regards from Germany! Gabi

July 8, 2004

Gabi, I know it has been a while since I contacted you, but the following story made me think of you and how much you cared for Clifford and how much time you spent writing and visiting him. You took your precious time to make Clifford feel special and I just wanted you to know that I will never stop being appreciative of it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making his last few years special to him and to me. ...

Again, thank you. Jennifer (Clifford Boggess' aunt)


Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of  Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the Eastern shore, and there's no bus 'till morning."

He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face... I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments...." For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind."

I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 A.M. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

During the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our network neighbor made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!"

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness' would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!" My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden."

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body." All this happened long ago -- and now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

Friends are very special. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear and they share a word of praise. Show your friends how much you care.... Pass this on, and brighten someone's day. Nothing will happen if you do not decide to pass it along. The only thing that will happen if you DO pass it on, is that someone might smile (because of you). Make someone smile today! :-)

January 31, 2008

Dearest Gabi,

I first want to say thank you for your link to James Beathard's last letter. The reason I'm writing to you is because you knew him a bit and because you knew his best friend Cliff. I saw the picture "Collage" that Cliff had drawn for James. I did not know James personally and I find this extremely unfortunate for myself, you see I'm about to marry his son. Unfortunately his son never really ever got to know his dad, and this saddens me even worse. I would really like to find out as much about James and his family, as possible. And I would love to get a copy of the picture Cliff drew for James if at all somehow possible. Thank you again.

C. C., soon to be Beathard and I will carry the name with pride.

February 7, 2008

Dear C.,

I was very moved when I read your e-mail! I'm glad, I did publish James' letter on the internet and you were able to read it this way. I wasn't able to ask James for his permission, because he was already executed, when I built my website. But as he had said, that he had written the letter with his story in detail for the reason, we should have the opportunity to tell his story in case we would discuss the Death Penalty with people, I took this as a permission to publish his story.

I'm going to ask S. F. in England, if she is able to send you a copy of Cliff's drawing for James. I'm sure she will be very moved, too, when she will read about you and James' son.

Would you give me permission to publish your E-Mail in my website? Either on the site about James or in the Feedback-Part? I usually do not publish full name and e-mail-address, just the message. Of course, I do accept if you don't want it - no problem. I just think it would help to show people that those "monsters" on Death Row often aren't monsters at all and that they have family too.

Kind regards from Germany and my best wishes for you and James' son! Gabi

February 10, 2008

Dear Gabi,

thank you for writing me back. I don't mind you posting my letter at all. You see I used to be one of those terrible/naive people that was for Death Row, until it was introduced into my life, as me being affected personally by this tragic experience of having family that has been there done that syndrome. When it happens really close to home as within your own family you start to open those naive eyes a little wider, and see Death Row as a robber that creeps into your life and kills the ones you love. That is a horrible thing to watch your family be killed slowly as only years on Death Row can. I didn't see those years or truly live them as being close the way his daughter did, but just being engaged to his son and knowing what I do know of James and his family I hurt just as if I had been sitting there visiting with James daily. And once again I start to cry about a life that was killed so needlessly, and in turn all the lives hurt for that. Well, I better say bye for now as if I don't I will cry myself to death. Once again thank you so very much.

Your newest friend for life, C.