TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It has been more than 37 years since an eight year old Tucson girl was kidnapped and killed. Now, all those years later, the man sent to death row for her murder is just a week away from his execution.
For most people it’s beyond imagining.
Your little girl kidnapped and killed.
The pain of a murder trial.
A killer sent to death row, then decades of court appeals as he tries to escape execution. Now for Debbie Carlson, the end of that road is in sight.
Debbie Carlson is near tears as she says, “I'm 67 years old. I've spent more than half of my life and our life fighting for justice for Vicki.”
Carlson has spent more than 37 years missing her little girl with the big smile and the loving spirit. Her daughter Vicki Lynne Hoskinson rode her pink bicycle to mail a birthday card to her aunt.
She never came back.
Prosecutors convinced a jury that Frank Atwood hit Vicki Lynne with his car, kidnapped and killed her. Earlier Atwood had served three years of a five year sentence for sexually assaulting a seven year old boy in California. He was sentenced to death for killing Vicki Lynne.
Debbie Carlson says, “I would say I was lying if I didn't think about it, who she would have become, what she would have done, who she would have married. She didn't have any of those options.”
For her, the years since Vicki Lynne disappeared have been fraught with uncertainty as Atwood fought to escape the death penalty.
She says she’s a Christian and knows Atwood claims to be a devout Christian, so why does he seem so desperate to hold off his fate?
“He's afraid to die. He hasn't repented. He hasn't apologized to us. He has not shown any remorse. So I asked people you know, God knows his heart. He can say whatever he wants. Bottom line is, he's not fooling anybody.”
KGUN Reporter Craig Smith said: “There's going to be a time where somebody is going to lean over him. Take some vital signs and go. He's dead. What's that going to be like?"
Debbie Carlson: “Praise God. Thank you, Lord, for answering prayers. Justice for Vicki. Justice for Vicki finally. It took too long. But we're thankful that it finally is happening.”
Debbie Carlson says despite being haunted by death, she and her family have worked to embrace life, stay positive and do good in this world.
She believes true closure is a myth but she can close a chapter in her life and start writing a better one.
“I told my kids I don't want to hear his name mentioned anymore. I don't want to hear about the case anymore. It is behind us. And we look forward. We embrace what comes our way every day and continue our love for one another. And we're looking forward to that.”
As part of her dedication to living life and doing good, Debbie Carlson has worked for crime victims rights. She says she’s grateful for all the community support she’s had all these years.
Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing email@example.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.