Via Bill Pelke. An extraordinary tale I only found out about today.
Bill Pelke, a grandson of the slain Bible teacher, said he forgave Cooper, who said she had been abused as a child, and visited her in prison 14 times. They exchanged e-mails almost weekly the last two years of her incarceration.
In one of their last messages, Cooper told Pelke that her time in prison was about up and she was scared. She had spent most of her life incarcerated. She had never written a check or paid a bill.
She had so much she didn’t know how to do, she told him.
He offered to help. But the two talked only once after she was released.
Pelke said he was devastated to hear of Cooper’s death.
“We had wanted to do things together around restorative justice and the death penalty,” he said. She wanted to be an example for other young people who have been abused.
“She wanted to tell them, ‘Look, this is how I responded to the hate and anger, and look at all the trouble I got into,’ ” he said. “She wanted to give them alternatives so they didn’t end up like her.”
Cooper’s pursuit of an appeal made her world renowned. According to the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana Supreme Court received 2 million signatures in support of her appeal. Pope John Paul II sent an emissary to Crawford’s office and wrote an appeal to then-Gov. Robert Orr. The United Nations received a million signatures in support of overturning Cooper’s death penalty.