Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
This is a particularly poignant scripture, considering the events of the last few days, but it applies well—perhaps—to another story:
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Becky O’Connell left her South Dakota home on a simple errand: to go to the store for sugar so she could make lemonade.
When the 9-year-old didn’t return that day in 1990, panic gripped Sioux Falls. Parents kept their children indoors until the mystery could be solved.
And within hours, it was — with a gruesome outcome: Becky had been kidnapped, raped and stabbed to death.
Becky’s killer, 60-year-old Donald Moeller, is set to die Tuesday night by lethal injection in South Dakota.
Her mother, Tina Curl, has been steadfast in her wish to watch him die, raising money so she could make the 1,400-mile trip from her home in New York.
She says Moeller watched her daughter take her last breath, and she wants to watch him take his.
According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, this was far from Moeller’s first violent crime. Calling him “a thief and a thug who tried to play out his sexual perversions at the point of a knife,” the Argus Leader noted:
…he once chased down a man and punched him in the nose, convinced that the stranger had upset his dog as he walked past Moeller’s yard and caused the animal to bark.
In 1973, he kidnapped a 21-year-old woman in Sioux Falls, SD and threatened to kill her with a knife if she didn’t disrobe. She refused and he let her go. In 1979, in Wright, WY, he tried to sexually assault a 13-year-old neighbor boy, cutting him with a knife when the boy ran away. He did time in the Wyoming State Pen. for that.
Four months before he killed Becky O’Connell, Moeller again threatened a woman with a knife. She escaped, but not before being cut. The AL continued:
He was caught, charges were filed, and in time, Moeller would learn that prosecutors wanted to have him put away for life as a habitual offender. He was told that news on the day Becky O’Connell was murdered, Attorney General Marty Jackley testified to a state legislative committee considering the repeal of the death penalty in 2010.
Moeller’s actions after he left his lawyer’s office ‘clearly demonstrates why (the death penalty) is needed as a protection to the public,’ Jackley told committee members. ‘Donald Moeller … visited his defense lawyer and was told that, based upon a separate assault matter, that he would likely be serving life. He was told that on May 8 between 3 and 4 o’clock. At 5:30, 9-year-old Becky O’Connell went to go get candy and, shortly thereafter, was found raped, sodomized and stabbed to death.
Moeller fought the death penalty he received for Becky’s death until July, 2012 when, for the first time, he admitted in court that he killed her and said he deserved to die for her murder. CBS reported:
Tina Curl, the mother of Becky O’Connell, was eager to see her daughter’s killer executed Tuesday night. She traveled 1,400 miles from her New York home in order to see the execution in South Dakota State Penitentiary.
‘I was right up to the glass” she told The Associated Press after the execution. ‘I wanted to see it up close.’
Donald Moeller, 60, received a lethal injection as punishment for the 1990 kidnap, rape and killing of 8-year-old Becky.
Curl, who said Moeller’s death brought her relief but not closure, was steadfast in her wish to watch Moeller die. She raised funds to cover her expenses to make the trip from her home in New York to Sioux Falls for the execution.
She said late Tuesday that she will never return to South Dakota.
South Dakota’s Governor was—as required–involved:
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he hoped the execution would bring some peace to Becky’s family…
‘I take no pleasure in his death, but there are those who are so vile that executions are warranted,’ Daugaard said in a statement.
This story is close to home for me. I grew up in South Dakota and spent many days in Sioux Falls, and as an adult, I served as a police officer in Gillette, WY, only 30 miles from Wright, WY. In all of my years in law enforcement, I met many like Moeller, and many more who were on his path. The horrible truth is that there are many like Moeller, everywhere, even now.
I have never doubted the existence of evil. I have never doubted that unless evil is obliterated, it will prey on the innocent. If we, as individuals, and as a society, refuse to acknowledge the existence of evil, and if we refuse to do what is necessary to combat it, always and everywhere, we are lost.
If we truly have free will, if we are moral beings charged with securing our society and the lives of all who live in it, surely demons like Moeller must face death. Surely the world became a better place when Moeller breathed his last, just as it was unfathomably degraded when Becky McConnell died. The only consolation is in knowing, with certainty, where they both are now.
What, gentle readers, do you think?