Maggie Daniels was raped and killed in her apartment by Sharman Odom in June 2014. She was discovered in her apartment days after she was strangled. A pretty young woman and a popular school counselor, her death shocked and rattled her community to its core.
As the news broke today about the plea made by her killer, I started to say to a colleague "I can't imagine how her family must feel." Only I can. I do.
Less than three months after Daniels' body was found, my family came all too close to experiencing the same tragedy and senseless violence. We experienced our own, when on that September night I thought to myself "I will not be the next Maggie Daniels."
Working in the news, I knew that there would be another Maggie Daniels. Unfortunately, there's always another victim of violence, of senseless crime. There's always another grieving family, another rape victim, another murder victim.
I am fortunate to have survived my own ordeal. Fortunate to have walked away with my life and the emotional scars that are already fading by the grace of God. My parents never had to look into the eyes of my killer as he admitted to what he did. Instead, they stood beside me as we listened to a jury convict, and a judge sentence my attacker to what will be a life sentence. That was my justice.
Maggie's legacy has already been felt in the community in which she lived. There is a park in her honor. But her death fuels me as I let our shared experience propel me forward. It would dishonor her, and all others who were not as fortunate as I to have survived, to not live every day trying to make the world better.
This violence is too common. Already in 2017 there have been 4 homicides. Make no mistake, all are tragic and unecessary.
We're less than one week into the new year. As I think about the goals I'd like to accomplish and the resolutions there's one that feels more urgent than the rest.
I resolve to be kind. To smile, to give grace. To be a light.
The world is full of too much darkness already.