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An 8-year-old’s murder remembered

35 years later her killer is still on Death Row
Posted at 6:35 AM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 21:23:48-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - There is an anniversary today that is nothing to celebrate.

Today marks 35 years since an eight year old girl rode her bike to mail a letter----and was never seen alive again.

KGUN9 talked to the mother of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, about her life, her death and the execution closing in for her killer.

"I miss her voice. You know, It's one of the hardest things is remembering the voice."

Debbie Carlson remembers the eight year old girl with the bright smile, loving spirit, and deep love for sports.

She wonders where would Vicki Lynne Hoskinson be now?

"Would she you know, been a famous athlete, because she was very athletic? You know, but she was also so kind and caring. So you wonder what she had been a doctor, you know? Would she have gone into politics? Which I doubt because I don't know, I just don't see her not, I would see her more as a caring person wanting to help people and make a difference in her community. That's just who she was."

Who she was, because Vicki Lynne Hoskinson died at age 8, kidnapped and killed by Frank Jarvis Atwood.

So many years ago, Vicki's mom could feel safe letting her ride her precious pink bike to mail a letter.

Pink paint stuck to Atwood's car helped convict him of Vicki's kidnapping and murder. Atwood had been free from a child molestation conviction in California where he forced an eight year old boy off his bicycle and forced him into a sex act.

Now 35 years after Vicki Lynne died, Atwood has run out of appeals to hold off his death by execution.

"When I hear his name, and I think about him, I think about evil. I just I know I have a hard time understanding why it's taken us so long."

Debbie Carlson knows people who oppose the death penalty quote the Constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

“Nothing's more cruel than the way my daughter died. Nothing's more cruel than the last words she spoke. Nothing's more cruel than her trying to live after he did what he did to her. Nothing is more cruel than to be out laying in the desert for six months, three weeks and two days, Nothing's more cruel to only finding a third of your daughter's body."

Debbie Carlson knows Frank Atwood will probably be defiant to the end, but his end will come.

She takes comfort in the victim rights reforms she helped enact, in the glimpses of Vicki she sees in her other children and grandchildren, and in the feeling that Vicki will always be with her.

“We feel her presence when we were in federal court. We were standing there during lunch, waiting for court to resume. And all of a sudden, there was this big beautiful yellow butterfly trying to get into the, through the window. It was like we just felt like she was trying to tell us she was there. And we believe that, you know, so

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “When you feel like she's communicating. What do you think she's trying to say?"

"That everything's gonna be okay, I'm here. I love you. I'm with you. I'm never gonna leave you.”